Jim Duffy comment: Does giving cash no longer present a dilemma?

Many of us opt for cash as a 'present' instead of the joy of bursting open wrapping paper, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.
Many of us opt for cash as a 'present' instead of the joy of bursting open wrapping paper, says Duffy. Picture: Ian Howarth.
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Receiving a birthday or ­Christmas present should make us feel special.

The ­giver has spent time thinking about what present to buy. This in itself is not an easy task. The sender has to think about what is appropriate, the context and what they feel we would like. Then they go through the process of purchasing the present, wrapping it and writing up a card personal to us. It takes time, thought and energy to shape up the perfect present. But more and more we are seeing this ritual disappear as many of us opt for cash instead of the joy of bursting open wrapping paper.

When I ask my daughters, who are both Generation Y, what they would like for their birthdays, or Christmas for that ­matter, the inevitable reply is “money”. There is no doubt they need it as they have so much nonsense to spend it on. You know, the important things in life like nose piercings, tattoos, lip fillers, expensive cocktails and fake tans. It is not easy being a 20-something in today’s Instagram world where the young ones have to look good all the time to portray the “fake me” image. So events like birthdays always present the potential for a cash injection from daddy. But is this a lazy way of giving a gift?

It seems not, as “adult” teenagers and the young ones believe that cash is not just an acceptable present, but now ethically and socially acceptable. Indeed, if when asked by their peers how they “did” on their birthdays, if the cash element is not substantial then it is deemed a fail. It also comes as consumer organisation Which? flagged that the widespread closure of banks and free ATMs is leaving some ­communities in Scotland struggling to access their cash.

When I was younger, getting a tenner alongside my “proper” birthday present was a bonus. Nowadays it is the other way around. No more the sight of young people out on their new bike. No, it’s photographs of them out with their “besties”, sipping cocktails, looking like they’ve just spent a week with the cast of Love Island. But the trend is spreading from the Generation Ys back the way to the Generation Xs as well.

There was a time when if two people decided to get married, they would receive wedding gifts from the invited guests. The gifting process became more sophisticated as they set up online wedding gift ­portals. Here, wedding guests could peruse the desired items and buy the gifts for the soon-to-be newlyweds. But for many of us oldies, this seemed impersonal and a bit imprudent, a bit forward and a bit presumptuous. However, it is a now ­commonplace practice. But it seems even this practice has now been usurped.

The latest source of cash for newlyweds is the honeymoon trip. Rather than buy a kettle and toaster set, wedding guests are asked to “crowdfund” the honeymoon. The bride and groom already have a kettle and toaster. So, rather than wedding gifts, they ask their guests to make a donation or buy a part of the honeymoon. This may involve paying for the flights, the hotel, excursions, meals or treatments at the spa. So, you can have that contented satisfaction knowing that Bob and Karen are enjoying the premium economy upgrade thanks to your £150 gift. But the best thing about it is when they then write to you thanking you for the extra leg room, the small bottle of champagne and the priority boarding. This way you know what your cash was spent on and how it made them feel. Now, that is pretty cool…

Cash is not just acceptable to give these days, but is becoming more commonplace in a whole raft of contexts. But even with this acceptability, it still feels “cheap” and easy just to hand over money as a gift, does it not? It depends on how you personally feel about it. Giving cash for a honeymoon excursion may go against the grain for some. But, for ­others it may be a special way of featuring in the newlyweds’ happiness. Oh, by the way, did I tell you I was getting married later this year? GoFundMe page details to follow…

Jim Duffy, MBE, Create Special.