A lot of people have felt the pinch this year, which means that cold hard cash may well be the most welcome gift under the Christmas tree. But many of us shy away from giving people money as a present because it can seem less thoughtful than a carefully chosen present.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are plenty of ways to get creative and make financial gift giving seem more exciting.

Use a decoy gift

Giving somebody money as their main present doesn’t mean you can’t get them a little something extra to unwrap – and so much the better if that secondary gift is used to disguise some cash or a cheque. A brand new purse or wallet can be stuffed full of notes, or money can be slipped between the pages of a thoughtful paperback.

Write the perfect message

Money can be a really heartfelt gift, and if you want to show the recipient just how much they mean to you then you might want to write a personal, heartfelt message to go alongside it – or even a poem. If you’re feeling crafty, you could also put together a handmade card that they’ll treasure long after the money has been spent.

Even cash that’s sent digitally can be accompanied by a thoughtful message and card. Paypal, for instance, offer the option of creating a virtual greetings card when you transfer cash to another account, making the moment a little more special.

Invest in long term wealth

Cash is king if you want to give somebody a short-term financial boost, but long-term investment also makes for a fantastic gift – and one which your loved one will benefit from for many years. You can buy stocks and shares as a gift, although typically you would need to purchase them in your own name first and then transfer ownership. You can also contribute to a savings account in someone else’s name. If your gift recipient is a child then you could also open an account on their behalf (speak to their parent or guardian first!).

If you’re feeling like making a more extravagant gesture, it’s also possible to buy a material investment, such as a painting or even gold. The royal mint sell gold bars and coins at a range of different values. They certainly won’t be expecting to unwrap that on Christmas day!

Take them shopping

Spending quality time together can be a fantastic gift – especially when you’re the one footing the bill! Plan a day out or let your loved one know that you’re taking them on a shopping spree. The key to success is to set a budget beforehand. This stops things from getting awkward, as your companion will know how much they’re expected to spend. You could also reserve space at their favourite restaurant or take them to see a show. It’s a great way to treat someone while also celebrating their special occasion.