Can I Ask for Cash As a Gift?

Rue's resident etiquette expert weighs in on your most pressing questions

You can always ask – whether or not you will actually receive it often depends on how you ask.

Here are some suggestions for (tactfully) requesting what you really want.

Dear Rue: Cash Gifts

Ye Olde Standby: The Gift Card
A popular alternative to cash is of course the gift card. Just make sure to specify an exact gift card – and explain why you want it. Doing so will make the present feel more personal and specific to your interests.

Here’s an example using, say, the Rue Gift Card (yep, that’s right, totally shameless plug):

If you’re looking for gift ideas, I would love to get a gift card to Rue La La. I really need some décor for my new apartment, and the site usually has great options.

Although it’s hard to imagine wanting a gift card to anywhere but Rue – I know, I know, it’s crazy to even say it – keep in mind that you don’t have to limit your request to the usual shopping options. Gas stations, grocery stores, college bookstores, movie theaters, restaurants, and other “nontraditional” retailers typically offer some form of gift certificate as well.

Just Go for It
Most gifters shy away from simply sticking bills in an envelope. But there are exceptions – like immediate family and very close friends. You can often be honest and straightforward with them in a way that you might not be able to with others.

As with gift cards, if you’re proposing cash as a gift idea, be specific as to why and explain the goal if you can. Perhaps you’d like to start a college fund, were hoping to achieve your dream of traveling to Asia, or would like a donation to a special charity. And so on.

Accept the Inevitable
Let’s be honest: There’s no real obligation for anyone to get you a holiday gift at all. If you receive a present this season that you don’t want or need, and the gifter didn’t take your suggestions into account or ask for them to begin with – well, just be gracious and thank them sincerely.

And perhaps quietly return the gift for cash if you can.

Check out CNN and wikiHow for more thoughts and tips.

By Shaina Malkin, Copyeditor

Have an etiquette emergency? Tweet us your question at @ruelala, and we might cover it in our next Dear Rue column.

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December 5, 2013