Help me creatively give paper money to a teenage prankster
June 11, 2024 10:45 AM   Subscribe

This Friday, a 16-year-old family friend is finishing his GCSE exams. He is a known prankster and loves magic tricks, weird notes, and any chance for silliness. (For example, he was dared to find a way to make a calculator disappear, so he broke it down into its component pieces and glued them under a desk. Maths teacher was secretly impressed, but Goofy Kid still got in trouble.)

Among the pizza and Haribo and whatever else Goofy Kid will be getting, I want to give him a £5 note or two, presented in some sort of creative way. I want to amuse him while also giving him some cold hard cash to buy what he likes.

I can't think of a cool way to do this, so I'm turning to MeFi for help.

I won't be able to go shopping anywhere much before Friday, and deliveries would be tricky to arrange in time. I can get to small supermarkets, the corner shop, and a Post Office during the day, though.

I would like to focus on using paper money rather than something like £5 worth of pennies, but am open to suggestions too.

Note for non-UK MeFites: Bank of England notes are made of polymer, so you can't fold them in artistic ways.

Goofy Kid is largely unembarrassable, but this needs to be a teen-suitable prank!
posted by Orkney Vole to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: mold it inside of a jello (uk mefites: mould it inside of a jelly)
posted by phunniemee at 10:49 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Put it in a block of ice!

Or, since you can get to the Post Office, put it in a box inside a bigger box inside a bigger box (etc). If you're feeling really creative, buy some cardboard tubes and construct a shape (bicycle? Dog?) and wrap it up as the "gift", with the fiver rolled up and hidden inside. Call it an enrichment activity!
posted by fight or flight at 10:55 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Tear the bills into quarters and mail the pieces separately.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:18 AM on June 11

3 d mirascope This is just an example, but this toy has a hologram effect. If you put a coin in the dish it looks like you can grab the center image, but it's just a hologram style illusion.
posted by effluvia at 11:22 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

I've seen someone take a box of dry rigatoni, roll up bills and insert them into the pasta, then reseal the box and give it. That might not work with the amount of money here, but maybe something along those lines will give ideas?
posted by eruonna at 11:32 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Steve Wozniak of Apple ][ fame famously had stacks of $2 bills glued up as a note pad, and would tear a few off with a flourish to pay for things. So maybe take a half dozen or so of the smallest bills you can get to the local copy shop, and see if they can pad them for you?
posted by ReferenceDesk at 11:52 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]

Wrap the notes inside a toilet roll. As he unwinds it, notes appear.
posted by Enid Lareg at 11:57 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]

Best answer: take a half dozen or so of the smallest bills you can get to the local copy shop, and see if they can pad them for you?
Cute, and you can do it yourself. (

Unless you give him a huge sum, it will likely be a mighty slim pad and perhaps underwhelming, so maybe supplement with some non-pound-note fillers that are in themselves interesting? Papers cut to exactly the size you need with a large variety of fun things on them like corny jokes, magic trick instructions, aphorisms, hand-written coupons he can present to you and redeem for silly stuff? Tiny little ridiculously bad "forgeries" of famous paintings, done by you? A few valentines he can give to Very Special Someones in February? Maybe a couple of monopoly money bills mixed in with the real?
posted by Don Pepino at 1:03 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]

Put the money in a bottle, bury it and give him a pirate hat, the GPS coords and a trowel. Safety: mark the spot with a nail with the head painted in his shipteam's colours.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:25 PM on June 11 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My mom is famous in our family for taping money to the outside of canned goods and wrapping them with wrapping paper. When you open the present you get some money plus a can of corn! Win!

On Christmas morning we'd pass out presents and each of the older kids would have six or seven wrapped cans and we already knew what they were, so we tried to do the best fake "suprised" faces we could as we opened each one.
posted by tacodave at 4:54 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]

Related to BobTheScientists answer, send him on a treasure hunt, culminating in the finding of the hidden money.

I did this with my (then) late-teen/early 20s sons one Christmas. I placed hidden clues all over the house. If I'd given myself more time I would have made more of them riddles or limericks or such. They both had a ton of fun anyway.
posted by lhauser at 6:22 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]

When I was a kid, my grandfather made a comparatively simple magic trick for me.

It was a small wooden stand, with two thick rollers covered in brown paper (like a mini clothes wringer).

Then with it were about 5 note sized pieces of plan paper, with intructions to feed them into one side of the machine and turn the handle. The plain paper was pulled through, and out the other side appeared a real bank note.

Spoiler: it was a long piece of brown paper, wrapped around both rollers, in a kind of looped S shape. So the real notes were pre-loded in the top roll. And the blank notes were pulled into the bottom roll.

Cool trick for me as a kid. DM me if you'd like me to draw the schematics if my words are clear :)
posted by many-things at 12:23 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]

Tried and true, break it down to the smallest notes and (washi) tape to the pages of a book. Or hollow out an old book (instructions online) and stash the money inside. Two gifts in one.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:58 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are all awesome suggestions! I am saving them all for future gift-giving opportunities. The treasure hunt will be something to work on with his mum for sure.

I love the idea of putting the money in ice, but there isn't a freezer at my office and I will be seeing Goofy Kid straight after work (no opportunity to pass off to his mum beforehand, sadly).

I am going to test the jelly tonight to see if it will work! I suppose if you can do it with a stapler (The Office -- poor Gareth) you can do it with money too.

Sadly, JohnnyGunn, UK banknotes can't be torn, but I thought about cutting one up into smaller pieces so the Kid has to stick them back together -- it seems they are still legal tender, but he might have to go to the bank to exchange it. Maybe I'll do the £5 note in two halves in separate jellies!

We have a history of hiding silly notes in each other's coats and bags, so it would be spectacular to give him a wrapped tin of baked beans that has the money behind the label. I love Don Pepino's idea of making fake certificates, pictures, etc. and will get creative if I have time.

many-things, please do share your grandfather's trick in the thread -- I am sure other MeFites would love it!
posted by Orkney Vole at 7:48 AM on June 12

The 'magic money press' trick my grandfather made, is pretty much shared already how it works (with the S rolls of brown paper, loading from one reel onto the bottom reel as you wind the handle, within the layers is the hidden real bank notes).

I meant that I can draw the schematics via DM if you'd like to try and make it, and my word description wasn't clear enough by text alone.

A quick video search however brings up this: as an example of one in use.. mine was just made from wood (and a bit bigger) many years earlier :)
posted by many-things at 1:54 PM on June 12

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