The first time I ever gave my niece and nephew cash for their birthdays, I confess I felt a little guilty. Doesn't that basically say "I didn't really have time or the inclination to find the right gift for you, so here---" But then again, I always loved receiving cash as a kid. Especially from distant relatives who frankly didn't know that I was really jonesin' for a rock tumbler at the age of 9 and I'd end up with some strange doo-dad to put in my room that I'd never actually set out anywhere.

Cash. Who doesn't want a bit more of that? Especially when we live in a society that seems to take more and more and MORE of it to basically function as each day passes. But, when it comes to gift-giving, there's dissension among the ranks as to whether or not this is an acceptable gift offering. it "okay" or not? Your thoughts?

According to Diane Gottsman, an associate of the Protocol School of Texas (didn't know there was such a thing), sometimes yes, sometimes no. Here's how it breaks down, apparently:

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Cash can be seen as a somewhat impersonal gift. So, you want to be careful if you know someone would be expecting a more personal gift from you. Consider your relationship with the person.

If you DO decide to give cash, consider pairing with something else. Don't just open your wallet and hand it to them if it's a special day. Pair with a lovely card or handwritten note. Add some candy, or a plant. Something to "warm" up the cold, hard cash.

When it comes to little kids, they're probably not going to be able to fully understand what you're giving them. (Just wait, kid---this'll all make sense later.) In the meantime if you want to give a kid cash, give it to their parents and then pick up a fun little whirligig or something fun they can tinker with.

Cash is usually quite welcome, though, for those in genuine NEED of it. For example: college kids or newlyweds. Perhaps you know someone is trying to raise money for a particular something. GREAT. Just make sure you mention in that aforementioned heartfelt note that this is your intention.

Then, add chocolate. That's always helps in every situation.

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