Gifts for grandchildren: Best ways for Grandma and Grandpa to give

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It used to be that a crisp $20 bill from grandma and grandpa was the holiday gold standard, but times have changed. Today, cash is good, but gift cards and gift certificates are better.

Bankrate’s gift card survey can help you sort out the wheat from the chaff.

“You can’t buy things online with cash, and the younger generation doesn’t know what to do with a check,” says Drew Gold, associate professor of management at Saint Leo University and executive director of the Saint Leo Polling Institute.

The Polling Institute studied the best way to give and receive gifts and concluded that although young people like cash, many prefer a gift certificate or gift card because 48% of shoppers younger than 40 do their shopping online.

“The kids will feel much happier if you give them something they can spend online. Cash doesn’t do them any good there,” Gold says.

Read on for ideas about other financial gifts for grandchildren, from investments to straightened teeth and even a comfortable retirement nest egg.