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Creative Ways to Give Cash

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Cash is always a popular gift for students, a demographic not exactly known for its deep pockets. You can always stuff a few $20s in an envelope, but here are a few creative ways to bestow those crinkly bills.

1. Paint Your Own Piggy Bank

Marc Garrido i Puig/Stock.Xchng Photos

I always worry about overly clever cash gifts - you're just asking for trouble when you wad up greens and tuck them in a salad bowl full of shredded green paper. Unless you're there at gift time, hovering over the recipient, you stand a good chance of at least a portion of that hard-earned gift getting accidentally thrown away. But a classic piggy bank evokes happy childhood memories and gives an obvious clue to its contents. Get your piggy bank at a paint-your-own-pottery place or buy a DIY version, and you can embellish it with personal notes or designs. All you need is a paintbrush and this artsy how-to to turn that porker into a Wall Street-bound pig, surgical intern or legal eagle-to-be.

2. Prescription for Cash for a Med Student

Photo by Jackie Burrell

A prescription bottle full of "Graduationprophen" or "Congratsicillin," with instructions to take as needed for major milestones, is a fun way to give a nursing, pharm or med student a check or large denomination bill.

3. A Monopoly-Themed Box for Housewarmings

Photo by Jackie Burrell

Sure, you could hand that new apartment dweller or homeowner an envelope with cash or a gift card to Sur La Table, Williams Sonoma or a local supermarket. But why not riff on the real estate theme with a Monopoly-themed box?

4. Business Card Case

iStock Photo

Everyone's got a wallet, but a business card case is a great thing for a new professional to have. These days there are so many different types of business card cases, in styles ranging from vivid yellow leather or bright red envelope, to sleek black or engraved silver.  Tuck a check or some crisp bills inside, and have fun styling a note of congratulations, perhaps a business card from one Magna Cum Laude, Esq, from Festive, Congratulations & Co. Of course, any cool handbag or wallet will work too.

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5. Make Your Own Opoly

Courtesy TDC Games

This DIY Monopoly game has several charming aspects. First, you can customize the game board and playing cards to reflect your shared history, so Boardwalk and Park Place become your family's favorite vacation destinations, while other property gets renamed after hangouts, friends, sandwich shops or campus landmarks. Swap out some of that play money for the real thing, and this gift becomes a clear winner.

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6. Legal Pad or Bookmark

Courtesy of Glenn Pebley, Stock.Xchng

Use that check or those 20s as a bookmark in a favorite book, or tuck them between the pages of a legal pad for your new law student.

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