Creative & Fun Valentine to Give – It’s Better than a Box of Chocolates

For Christmas my aunt sent me one of the best, one of the most clever, one of the most practical gifts I’ve ever received.

I shared it with you back in December. Upon reflection, I realized that it would make an ideal Valentine for those special people in your life. And then readers kept asking how to make one.

So, here’s a up close review of what The Great Aunt Cass gave us for Christmas and how you can make one yourself.

You will need:

  • a candy box (reuse one or buy one at a craft store)
  • paper candy liners
  • money
  • glue or double sided tape
  • foam stickies

When I first unwrapped the box, it looked like a regular candy box from a sweet shop in a little town in Wisconsin. My mom is from Winona, Minnesota and that is where most of our Pellowski relatives still live. {Waving to all the relatives.}

There was a note attached that said that it was “better than See’s Candy.” This was hard to believe as my dad has been sending all the relatives boxes of See’s Candy for about 30 years. No one ever told me that La Crosse had See’s beat. So, I was a little skeptical when I opened the box.

So far, we’re still thinking that this is for real. If you don’t have a real candy shop to impersonate, you could create a really fun, mock insert for Valentine’s Day. (If you do, please write me and tell me about it!)

Under the paper insert and parchment liner, was of course, the real treat:

Cass had included a number of different currency, disguised as candy. You can so easily do this yourself!

Nestle within candy papers varied denominations: pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, dollar coins and dollar bills, two dollar bills and as high up as you can afford. Inquire at the bank to see what fun selection you can come up with.

One of the great things about this gift is that since you are varying the denominations, you don’t have to spend a lot of money, though you certainly could.

Glue or tape the liner papers to the box. Roll, fold, or stack the currency to vary its appearance. Then use foam stickies to adhere the currency to the candy liner.

Like this:

I see so much potential for a gift like this. It’s creative and practical all at the same time!

Other Ideas for a Box of Money Gift:

  • College students will think it’s a hoot. Most don’t want to ask for money, but often that is what is most appreciated and needed. This is a little more creative than a gift card.
  • Someone heading off on a trip overseas would love to receive some foreign currency, making this a great gift for missionaries, exchange students, parents going to adopt their international children, and other world travelers.
  • Kids can learn about denominations they’ve never seen before. My mom and Aunt Cass have given me two dollar bills every year for my entire life. And, yes, they are real US currency.

Got another idea to make this gift even greater?

See ya in the comments.

DIY on a Dime

This is part of the DIY on a Dime: Great Gifts series. For more easy and frugal gift ideas, check out the list.

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  1. Wow! I know I’d love to receive that box of chocolates. And oh so much better for the hips :)

  2. I can totally see for college students putting in a roll of quarters for the washing machine!

    • When I went off to college, my mom filled a laundry basket with little baggies of laundry detergent (1 scoop measures) and tied them up with colorful ribbon and attached another little bag with 4 quarters ( the cost to wash and dry a load way back when) It was enough to last me for 3 months! What a great gift it was and I never had to worry that the cash machine worked.

  3. I have been looking for a different Valentine gift for my kiddos and this will work perfectly! Before my granddad passed away, he would periodically give my kids a $2 bill. DD is the only one that can remember him and his tradition and she has kept every bill. She pulls them out every so often and reminisces about Paw-Paw. ;)

  4. I think it would be a great multi-cultural lesson if you included money from different countries. My inlaws travel a lot and always bring my son back some currency from their trips. What a fun way to present it! Another idea is to turn it into a counting lesson. For example, put in a 1 dollar bill, and put in 2 fifty cent pieces, 4 quarters, etc. Then have your child match the amounts.

  5. This is an awesome idea- and I can’t think of a single age who wouldn’t appreciate it! (On another note, my twin, I have family in La Crosse. It’s uncanny, really…)

  6. I hate giving money or gift cards because I don’t want people to think it was a last resort…but who can’t use some extra cash? This is the best of both worlds, because it actually takes some effort and thought, while being practical.

  7. I can imagine using this idea for our office gift exchange. We have a $20 limit and it’s hard to buy a present for someone you don’t really know. But it always feels way too tacky to just give someone a $20. But dressing it up in a fun way like this would totally work!

  8. I think this would be perfect to use the little 4 piece candy boxes-especially the heart shaped ones. I have a five year old daughter who would love to get a $1 bill, a couple of quarters, 50 cent piece and maybe even a $1 coin. It would cost less than $5 that way and come right in at our usual Valentine budget.

  9. That is so cool! Great idea for older kids who have birthdays on Valentine’s Day too!

    We used to live in Winona, MN!! Two of our 3 kids were born in Lacrosse! Small world! :)

  10. You could also use money origami to fold some of the bills into heart shapes. The tooth fairy just left a heart shaped $5 bill for my daughter. It sounds like it would be tricky but I just googled the instructions and it was suprisingly simple. Love the smaller 4 piece box idea too!! My step-daughter who lives out of state will be so excited to see this since she has braces and can’t eat the boxed candy!

  11. That is a great idea for gifts. I just might do that for the kids this year, using smaller boxes though.

    I’m from a small (pop.750 on a good day) town just south of La Crosse. We always got our Christmas candy from The Sweet Shop. In my opinion, they are just as good as See’s for their own reasons. Thanks for the memory cue. – Dawn

  12. LOL! This is great, though I can’t help but think that my kids actually might be disappointed that it’s not actually chocolate or candy! This is also great for giving my Mom her gift this year! She is the worst person to shop for, has been horribly hard to do so for quite a while. She’s so bad, that she just goes out and buy’s herself what she wants, brings it home, wraps it and then write “from Dad” on the tag! I don’t think she kept a single item he has ever given her (well, maybe 1 – in 30 yrs of marriage!) So a couple of years ago she started asking for gift cards! Sucks to just buy her “gift cards” for her birthday/holiday season! 1 yr, because it drives me nuts that she knows what she is getting – I wrapped up 8 boxes in descending order (littlest to bigges) nesting inside of each other (so the littlest was the very last box to open!) She opened up all 8 boxes (I also made her open them up with oven mitts tomake it that much harder!) So she opened up the last gift – and there was nothing inside! I had tapped the gift card to the bottom of the largest box she had opened! I told her, if she knew what she was getting – she had to work for it!

    This year, she wants “cash, or a check” to put into her vacation fund (harder to do with a gift card to a specific location!) So this is what I will do! Makes it much more fun and interesting to give her that gift! Thanks for the info!

  13. Janie Osborne says:

    What a creative idea…I just thought it would be cute and also help to keep the coins from going everywhere if you could use a little cellofane and wrap them in long rounded “pieces” ( think about a section of a roll of coins… perhaps 5 coins at a time) and twist tie the ends like starlight mints. I always wrap gifts to look like candy. Here is what I Love to use ~red pipe cleaners to secure the ends and then I twist the excess around my pinky finger to curl them for a whimsical look! I love the look of red and white so I use white tissue paper and cut a pipe cleaner in half and use one on each end. I have also used the really thin red with white polka dots ribbon!! I think the bills rolled from side to side would work well like this! The $10 dollar bill in the red liners reminded me of this idea because it looked like a long piece of tootsy roll candy shape. So if you do not have the candy papers this idea will work in the heart shaped boxes.
    Thanks for sharing your fun and wonderful ideas.

  14. Super Cute idea!!! Must do for my kids! I’m originally from LaCrosse, WI – now live in a suburb of St. Paul, MN – and SO miss the Sweet Shop! Yummy Yummy Yummy! My husband is from Winona and has lots of Pellowski relatives there. What a small world!

  15. That is so cute! My Sunday School teacher from when I was 2 years old (so I guess that was probably actually the nursery) sent me a $2 bill in my birthday card every year too!

  16. What a cute idea!!

  17. This is a great idea! My hubby loves Esther Price Candies (we live near Dayton, OH). But we are both trying to lose some lbs this year so candy is def out for us. Well, when I saw this I thought of a great way to modify it. Instead of money, I think I may get an EP box and fill the candy spots with small love notes and verses. His birthday is the day before VDay. He is having a rough time at work these days and a few encouraging notes in a sweets box might just make his day! (: Thanks for the idea!

  18. I absolutely love this idea. I have a list of recipients in my mind already.

  19. That is a really fun idea. A couple of years ago, some of our friends decided to go to Costa Rica for their honeymoon.

    For their wedding gift, we exchanged some money and have them some Costa Rican cash to have at the ready when they arrived. They loved the gesture, but this packaging would have made it even better! Thanks for the idea.

  20. I just came across this again and was reminded of a wedding gift we received from some friends. They got a small wooden chest from a craft store and converted their bills to coin so it was partially full of treasure! It was a hoot, and we still keep the chest for our spare change.

  21. Love this idea! Getting ready to send Christmas gifts to nieces and nephews we don’t see during the holidays. This is perfect! Thanks so much for the very clever idea.

  22. What a great, unique idea!

  23. What a cute idea! My niece is graduating from high school in may.
    I’ll be packaging her $100 this way!

  24. I think I need to go buy myself some chocolates to eat so that I can use the box for this idea.

  25. Just got done making this for my husband who has everything. I know he will love it. I used tissue paper cut with decorative siccors instead of the baking cups. Thanks for the great idea

  26. Such a great idea! Just shared on our Fun Finds Friday…

  27. This will make a perfect Mother’s Day gift too! My MIL, age 82, will love this!!!!

  28. This is great! I’m not a mom, but my little sister is away at college so I’m always trying to find things that make her smile, this is wonderful, she will love it!

  29. A big hit my wife & I have done at Christmas, was to give a money gift to my newly-married children. We got a nice-looking multi-photo frame, like 10 cutouts for photos, and put a currency bill from $100 on down (100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 & 1 in each of the cutouts, and one coin of each denomination (including a dollar coin) in the rest of the cutouts. The money came up to around $190. They loved it, got a kick out of it, got some useful funds, and a nice picture frame as well.

  30. dorothea aros says:

    At Michael’s craft store I bought a chest and painted it..filled it with chocolate coins and 100.00 dollars worth of sacachawea neices were graduating from high school and we gave each $100.00 dollars.They thought that was a great idea.chocolate coins and real coins make for a fun gift at anytime..NO ONE REFUSES MONEY NO MATTER WHAT FORM IT’S IN. love the idea.

  31. This is AWESOME!!! I just found the perfect Christmas gift for my hard to buy for teenagers! I think I will put a little twist on this however and put gift cards from different places around town like Subway, McDonalds and perhaps a gas card. Thanks for the idea!

  32. Thanks for the idea! I am making my brother this at this very moment. I pinned your idea a long time ago and just now has the time to read through it. I was shocked to see you mention La Crosse because I attended UW-La Crosse for four years and have been to this sweet shop. Small world! Thanks again!


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