Cash under the tree: the best alternatives to cash gifts

If the bills in the card are too unimaginative, you could also reach for gold or shares.

Popular, but not very creative: money in a gift card

In a few days is Christmas – and still missing the right gift? Last minute offers a cash gift. In any case, cash is very popular: almost 60 percent of Germans want to give money to relatives or friends this year. Conversely, however, two-thirds say they would prefer a personal gift, after all, money is somewhat unimaginative and loveless. There are alternatives to a few bills in a white envelope.


Money can also be given as a gift in its high-gloss form: as gold. This does not mean jewelry, but mini bars or coins. The lowest manufacturing premium (i.e. the most for the money) is obtained with bars. The smallest bar – one gram of gold – currently costs about 46.50 to 48.50 euros. The higher the denomination, the lower the total price. A ten-gram bar has an equivalent value of about 369 euros.

If you decide to use coins, the extra cost of manufacturing increases slightly depending on the coin: The most common smallest denomination is coins weighing one-twentieth of a troy ounce, which is a good one and a half grams. Currently, for example, the Maple Leaf (twentieth of an ounce), a Canadian collector coin, costs a good 70 euros. However, banks and coin dealers often only have larger denominations from a tenth of an ounce in stock. Three well-known collector coins – the Krugerrand, the Philharmonic and the American Eagle – currently cost 124 euros in this size.

The recipient can easily and quickly turn gold into real money again, but has to accept that there is a "spread", i.e. gold traders pay a little less for coins than they charge when selling them. For the one-tenth of an ounce, they offer about 110 to 112 euros. Unlike bills, which permanently lose purchasing power due to inflation, bars and coins made of the yellow precious metal at least have the chance to increase in value.

If gold gifts are too expensive for you, you can also choose the cheaper brother, silver. A small ounce bar costs about 17 euros, a pound of silver can be bought for 165 euros. Silver coins with a wide variety of motifs – from the Australian kookaburra to the Chinese panda – are available in one ounce denominations at the current silver price from 16 euros. One can buy coins like bars with specialized precious metal dealers or with banks.

Shares and funds

Relatively problem-free money can be given away also in the form of shares or funds. Even at the last minute, you can still transfer one or more securities – but only if a few conditions are met: The giftee must own a securities account himself and buy the shares he wants to pass on anew. Alternatively, they can pass on shares they have held for some time without incurring any costs. Secondly: The recipient of the gift must also have a deposit. A share transfer is tax-neutral as a gift between relatives, so there is no final withholding tax. The limit for this is far above a normal Christmas gift, namely at 20 000 euros. However, the donor must inform the broker in advance that it is a gift, otherwise the transfer is treated as a normal sale and withholding tax is deducted from the profit. It is no different with funds.

If the presentee does not have his own securities account, the gift can also be disguised as a voucher and put into practice after the holidays. It is not possible to open a securities account for a third party unless it is one’s own underage child. Conceivable as a gift is also a stock and fund savings plan. Savings plans of this kind can be set up with some direct banks for as little as 25 euros per month. Once again, the recipient must have his or her own securities account.

It also makes sense to transfer a low-risk fund or a basket of shares in the form of an ETF (Exchange Traded Fund, an index security) instead of a single share. Stocks can fluctuate greatly, so that the donated money can lose value in the short term. As with gold, however, there is also the possibility that the gift of money will increase – and at a much more dynamic rate than would currently be possible after depositing a few bills in a savings account.


Grandparents in particular like to give money to their grandchildren or set up a savings account for them. There are two options here. In this way, you can give away a savings book or a call money account, but legally it remains invested in the name of the donor. In this way, it can be filled up over the years and the total sum can then be transferred to the recipient, for example, on the 18th birthday of the child. Pay out money for a birthday. It is also possible to open a savings book yourself and designate a third party as beneficiary. Some banks also offer savings schemes in which the money is automatically transferred to the recipient at a specific time specified by the donor.

Alternatively, the savings book gift can also be invested directly in the name of the recipient. However, this requires the signature of the donor or, in the case of children who are not of age, that of their legal guardians. After that, the money is simply transferred. It must also be taken into account that the legal owner is the one who must pay tax on the interest income, i.e. who must also submit an exemption order.


It is also becoming increasingly popular to give money and a good conscience at the same time. The recipient does not receive the money himself, but dedicates it to a good cause, which the giver has chosen for him. In return for your donation, the organization usually sends you a PDF document by e-mail, which you can then print out and give to the recipient.

The range of possibilities is immense: Doctors without Borders, for example, advertises not only the donation gift, but also vice versa the donation wish. According to the organization, a gift of 50 euros is enough to vaccinate 40 children in underdeveloped countries against measles. Plan International, an organization for child sponsorships, also has a wide variety of donation gifts in its portfolio: For 42 euros, you can buy a family in Sudan a sheep. For 65 euros, a health worker in Uganda receives a bicycle with which he can visit remote medical stations and transport medicines. And 63 euros is enough to enable a young person in Zimbabwe to take a literacy and math course.

Alternatively, donations can also be used to symbolically buy square meters of rainforest, enabling orangutan orphans to be raised or the desert to be greened. Gift donations are offered by SOS Children’s Villages, Welthungerhilfe, Nabu, the World Wildlife Fund and Misereor. Animal lovers may choose the German Animal Welfare Association and help finance the animal welfare center in Odessa or the emergency fund, which needs reserves if, for example, another case of illegal puppy trade is uncovered.

Sending money

If you would prefer to receive pure money, but cannot hand it over personally, you have to choose between postal service and bank transfer. To ensure that the money is not lost en route, it is advisable to use the "Wert National" mailing option, which currently costs 4.30 euros in addition to postage. The post office is liable for amounts up to 100 euros. The recipient must acknowledge receipt, and the sender can track the value of the gift. The most impersonal, but also the safest, is the transfer – either to a checking account or a savings book.

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