Over this Christmas season, your family may have dedicated a portion of dinnertime talk to “that Bitcoin thing” your uncle brought up. “What’s this cryptocurrency business?” your cousin chimed in over a plateful of cranberry salad and honey-roasted ham. You and your immediate family may have even swapped a few crypto-related gifts. If not, you may be asking yourself: what’s the best way to give crypto as a gift?
An Alternative to Gift Cards and Cash
Christmas may be over, but there will be plenty of opportunities yet to give the gift of crypto to your friends and loved ones. Maybe your best buddy’s birthday is coming up and he’s been talking about wanting to invest, or maybe come Valentine’s Day, you want to tack on a few bucks’ worth of crypto to the smorgasbord of chocolate and flowers you’re getting your girlfriend. Whether you’re looking for a gift for the crypto-enthusiast in your life or looking to share your obsession with the world, crypto could be a present worth buying (and if you play your cards right, worth even more in the future).
So if you’re looking at how to go about gifting crypto, here are a few ideas:
Paper wallets are a simple, easy way to give cryptocurrency in physical form, and if the recipient is planning on “hodling” for the long term, cold storage is generally a safer option than hot storage.
With a paper wallet, your wallet address and private keys are printed onto a physical slip of paper, NFC tag, or both. Paper wallets can also be stored as PDFs, but hard copies are recommended for enhanced security.
To create a paper wallet, you have a number of options. For Bitcoin, you can use bitaddress.org. For Ethereum, MyEtherWallet has a paper wallet function for Ethereum and all ERC20 tokens. Electrum wallets also have a built-in option to print a paper wallet with your stored funds.
When making a paper wallet, it’s best to disable WiFi on your PC, because hackers could see your private keys if your PC has been compromised. Another friendly tip: make sure you create a backup of the wallet address and private key (either on a USB drive or a piece of paper), and be sure to tell the recipient to store it in a safe place.
Physical coins are similar to paper wallets, but with more flair, and with a greater price tag, too.
A man with the pseudonym Casascius began minting physical Bitcoins back in 2013, and since he ceased operations, other enthusiasts have taken up the minting mantle.
Typically, physical coins bear the logo of the virtual token they hold, and a hologram protects the digital asset’s private key. Once the hologram is destroyed, the key is revealed and the holder can cash in on his or her crypto.
Physical coins are great, especially for enthusiasts, because they double as a currency and a collector’s item. After you’ve accessed the code, you still have the physical coin to hold on to. That’s pretty neat, so if you’ve got the funds to buy one, it makes for an awesome gift.
Just make sure it still has its private key intact!
This is another expensive present option, but perhaps the safest we can think of.
If you’re willing to cough up the money for a Ledger Nano S or a Trezor, you can rest assured that your gift is in good hands. Both of these wallets store your private keys offline, and they can sync up to browser wallets, web wallets, and exchanges (e.g. EtherDelta for the Nano S) to allow you to manage your funds.
These wallets are fabulous choices for long-term investments, and if you’re loading them up with substantial sums of college funds, retirement funds, etc., they’re a great bet for offline security and management. Just make sure you write down the wallet’s seed phrase in case it gets lost or damaged, and make sure that you teach the gift’s recipient how to use it if they plan on investing or trading further.
There are no ends to the avenues you can take to present cryptocurrency in a physical form.
As CryptoArt has shown us, you can incorporate paper wallets and private keys into literal works of art. This is one of the more ornate options for gifting crypto, but if you’re already dropping fat stacks for someone, it might be worth the extra mile. Hey, if they’re an art lover and a crypto nerd, it’s a double whammy.
Still, you can opt for a homemade approach, too, if you’re not looking to drop hundreds or thousands of dollars. So long as you’re handy, you can paint your own masterpiece, crochet or stitch your way to a physical crypto gift, or carve a wooden coin for someone. All you need to do is include the crypto’s private key and wallet address.
But make sure you keep the private key hidden from others, because if they get their hands on it, your gift could end up only being worth the medium it’s shared on.