In February, my cousin David turned 14. For the first time in many years, Michael and I were here in Ohio to attend the party. I asked my aunt if David had anything in particular on his birthday list. When I was 14, I am sure I had a list and I'm also sure I got plenty of bizarre items that were not ON the list ! I did not want to perpetuate that cycle :)
What a cutie!
Nene suggested gift cards to a few retail establishments because evidently the items on his list were pretty pricey, so he was trying to save up. Excellent! I am all about gift cards because they allow the recipient to choose whatever he wants, and negates any possible customer service/return counter situations. But we have a huge family, and I got to thinking how boring it might be to open a bunch of birthday cards with gift cards inside. I'm not saying he would not want the gift or appreciate it. Simply that it might become monotonous after awhile.
Luckily, we were able to throw a bit of creativity in the mix. I decided I would bring a large box resembling a mystery present, but it would actually be full of cash. Clever, huh?
First, I determined how much money to give. This is a largely personal decision and often varies depending on your budget and how much you like the person [just kidding!] It just so happened that the amount we decided on was divisible into 14 bills of varying amounts. (I did not give him 14 $1 bills, in case you are wondering!) But you can do whatever you want - if someone is turning 14 but you want to give $30 and would like them to pop 30 balloons, speak to the bank accordingly!
I obtained balloons as well as the 14 bills, in appropriate denominations, and started to fold them up teeny tiny. This is key because you're going to put a bill inside each balloon, and then inflate. If you have a spouse or a significant other, or a gullible younger sibling, now is an excellent time to ask for help. I mean, who wants to blow up that many balloons? So poor Michael inflated all 14 balloons for me. (He then rinsed his mouth with Listerine because he was afraid germs from the money might have gotten on the balloons.)
You can see my attempt at a close-up below. That's money, folded into a tiny square, inside a balloon. Riveting!
I inadvertently purchased a bag of balloons that was assorted sizes and shapes, which meant some balloons were really too small to put anything in but water. [Check back in a few months to see how I use those babies!] But on the plus side, the presentation in the box was that much more fun.
Since my father is known to hoard boxes, and we were still in the Homestead, the basement was basically my oyster. I found a ginormous box into which 14 balloons would fit, and tossed them in. Aside from Michael inflating the balloons, he longest part of the process was probably finding wrapping paper big enough to cover such a huge box.
Now, you could obviously leave it at that and let the birthday boy figure out what the box was all about. But as luck would have it, Michael and I were not able to stay at the party very long, so I added a nerdy sign on top of the balloons, hinting at what was inside.
It was, coincidentally, the ONLY box David had to open. I'm so glad I did something different, since it was unique and gave the birthday boy an alternative gift presentation, but with the same result as cash in an envelope.
And if you're miles away from the party but still want to be generous, balloons are lightweight and easy to mail. Even Oliver approves.