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The #1 Graduation and Teen Gift - The Money Tree Step-by-Step

Updated on March 25, 2014

Why Give a Money Tree?

When my kids were growing up, I got this grand idea of making a tree full of cash for an upcoming graduation gift. Coming from a small town and being involved in many activities such as Girl Scouts, we have grown to have quite a large number of close friends that we call family. Each of these families have children and each year after my first Money Tree came to grow (no pun intended because it surely isn't going to grow!) As time went on I found that I was making more and more Money Tree's. When it came time for my children to graduate, holy cow was I in trouble. Not only did my son and daughter expect one, but their friends expected them too that were graduating with them. Not in a selfish expectation sort of way but more of a wishful thinking way. Cha-ching. Now, remember that I had been making these for years so many of these kids have seen them being given to others and so they were just sure that they were getting one too. How could I let them down? The beauty of the Money Tree is that you can set the price of the gift. If you want to give three one year for graduation then you can make them $30.00 each vs. sending each person $50.00. It is much easier and far better received than a check or a gift card.

Just ask them...

Ask your teen if they would rather have a gift or money

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Give a Gift that Creates Oooo's and Ahhhh's

We often struggle with gift ideas in general, spending a lot of extra time trying to come up with the most unique and creative gift. Value always seems to be another issue when it comes to gift giving because we don't want to just give a gift that cost a couple of dollars, reflecting that we just didn't want to put the time into it, yet we don't want to try to keep up with the Jones's by having the nicest, most expensive gift that they may not even want or need. The Money tree is a great solution to this problem and every time it is received, smiles are instantly created. I don't know of anyone who doesn't like money.

How to Make a Money Tree

Shopping List

  • 1 Foam Floral Block
  • 1 Gift Basket Box or Soft Drink Bottle Box
  • 1 Bag of Shred
  • 2 Bags of Candy
  • 1 Pack of Mini Clothespins
  • 2 Greenery Bunches
  • Box Decoration
  • Money

Bargain shopping is just one of my favorite things to do and I always suggest checking out your local thrift store and Dollar store first before shopping anywhere else. I have found the floral blocks for $.25 cents along with the greenery at thrift shops time and time again. Your packaging should cost you about $5 on top of the money expense to make the gift.

Easy as 1,2,3


  • Purchase a gift basket box that is open at the top or you can use a 6 pack soda bottle box and trim out the inside dividers.
  • Add one square of floral foam to the box so it is a tight fit. If you need to cut two blocks to fill in an area and make it tight, that is fine, you just don't want your floral arrangement to be loose when you are done with it.
  • Buy two clusters of greenery. Put them inside the foam block side by side.
  • Then add some shred to the top of the foam block.
  • Sprinkle two bags of candy on top of the shred. What you are doing here is giving the box weight as money doesn't weigh anything and you want to be able to keep this box steady.
  • Purchase your money and I usually buy a few 10's, a few 5's then about 20 one dollar bills. You can make the money tree any amount that you want to and use any denomination that you want to. I like to average $50 on a graduation gift and $20 to $25 on a birthday gift.
  • Fold your bills from one end to the other as you were making an accordion fan. Just keep folding every 1/8" or so.
  • Then hold the bill at one end and fan it out. Then attach to one of the branches with the clothespin.
  • That is it! There is no wrong way to do this, just spread out the money, more towards the front so that it is more visible when giving. You can decorate the box if you wish or you do not have to either. I have glued candy to the front with a glue gun and I have also taped a few more dollar bills to the front of the box, just to give it a little more life.

Fill the Box Tight

Other Money Tree Gift Giving Reasons

You can give a Money Tree for many different gifting occasions. Here are just a few.

  • Weddings
  • Birthdays
  • Retirement
  • Graduation
  • Holidays
  • Baby or Shower
  • Teacher
  • Appreciation
  • Travel
  • Employee's
  • Anniversary

It's a fun way to spread the love, or the money!

Yes! Love my Money Tree

High School Graduation Money Tree

Decorating the Box

When I am making a Money Tree for a graduation or wedding, I like to use either emblem's that resemble their school colors or photographs. Either is easy to do as you can print darned near anything on the internet these days or you can go to a local craft store and often find cute items to add to the front of the box. Our craft store carries our local high school banners for scrapbooking, so it is easy for me to decorate. I can also pick up the floral block and mini clothes pins at the same store if I am unable to get them for cheaper elsewhere. I often keep an extra set of everything needed to make a Money Tree on hand, so when the time comes, I am ready. If you are at a loss, you can always just print "A Money Tree for You" using Microsoft Word and then tape a one dollar bill alongside of it.


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    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 

      4 years ago from United States

      This is a fun idea--I've never made one but I have a high schooler graduating soon, so I may have to do this!


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