How to Ask for Cash (or Gift Certificates) for Christmas

We’ve all been there. December 26: The carpet beneath the unlit tree is bare (except for those fallen, dried-out pine needles), the last of the holiday feast is confined to tinfoil in the fridge, and you’re stuck with an over-sized sweater, tube socks, and a pre-packaged Christmas cookie gift box. You’re wondering if you should have just asked for cash.

If you’re saving up for something special, have a store you’d love to shop from, or just know that your friends and family don’t really get your taste, the answer is yes. It’s okay to ask for cash, or gift certificates, as long as you do it with class and follow a few etiquette guidelines.

According to the Emily Post Etipedia, it’s fine to tell your family members and close friends that you want cash for your wedding. We figure the same goes for holiday gifts. If your mom asks what you want, and you really want cash or a gift certificate, tell her how you feel. This also helps word-of-mouth bloom. If your mom knows you want cash, and your grandma asks your mom what you want, then your grandma knows you want cash.

However, there are gift-givers who might not feel comfortable with this idea, or think that they aren’t giving a “real” gift unless it’s wrapped in shiny paper. You know your friends and family best, so it’s your call whether to outright ask for money. For those folks who usually give traditional gifts, you may need to drop extra hints to let them know that you’d actually prefer the dough.

Gift etiquette expert Sherri Athay suggests spreading the word subtly in her advice to CNN Living. For example, if your old-fashioned aunt asks what you want for Christmas, you could say, “Oh, I’ve been saving up for…” or “I love anything from [your favorite store].” This will help her feel better about giving you cash or a certificate to the store in question.

While asking outright is fine when it comes to your parents, best friend, or another close relation, and dropping hints isn’t an etiquette no-no in most other situations, remember that no one is required to give you what you want and it really is the thought that counts. If you do end up with another “Happy Holidays” mug or a DVD of a movie you just watched on Netflix last week, you can always save it for a re-gift next year.

Written by Cassie

Cassie spends most of her time at work writing things. She loves books (including comics), sketch comedy, and sci-fi. She's inspired by art and science. As a former Minnesotan, she longs for an afternoon on a lake, Grain Belt in hand. The New Yorker in her is happy spending that afternoon at the American Museum of Natural History instead.

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