How to Make a Gift of Appreciated Stock Feel Personal

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I recently stumbled upon the article “What Should I Write on an eGift Card? Nearly 100 different things to write on an egift card, making it more personal.” It is unsurprisingly published at, but nevertheless their article has some very helpful messages to help make a monetary gift feel more personal.

My favorites are:

  • “Hoping your day is filled with all your favorite things–and you can buy anything that’s missing.”
  • “Wish I could take you out to dinner in person. Allow me to pick up the check instead!”
  • “Two hearts, one baby, a million diapers. This pack is on me!”
  • “May the dreams of your birthday blossom into reality.”
  • “I can never thank you enough, but I’ll start with this gift.”

It got me thinking about how to make gift of stock or retirement savings feel more personal. Here are a few stock-specific ones I thought of:

  • “I’d invest in your future any day.”
  • “May this be the seed of your financial dreams.”
  • “I wanted to get you the world. Here is a piece of it.”

Many family members give money to their children. For children with lower incomes, there is an opportunity to give them appreciated stock to shift the capital gains to a lower tax bracket. If they have an income, there is also an opportunity to help them fund their Roth IRA. With a bit of planning, you can make the practical gift very personal.

What to Give

When giving a gift to really young children, many people choose to buy a few shares of a recognizable company like Disney, Mattel, or Lego. This compromises the investment strategy a bit for the fun of the purchase. However, I think you can inspire kids while buying an ETF.

Although a target-date retirement fund might be many people’s first thoughts, I’d actually recommend buying a volatile sector on the efficient frontier like Technology or Healthcare in the U.S. Stock, Emerging Markets or Chile in Foreign Stock, or Energy in Resource Stock. These sectors tend to bounce around a lot in value while trending upward significantly. These sectors will help them build wealth while teaching them that although the markets are inherently volatile, they are inherently profitable and give them a chance to practice Bogle’s best advice: don’t peek.

If you want a bit of fun, you could buy a Total World ETF, which owns a share of each publicly traded company, like Vanguard’s Total World Stock ETF (VT) which has an expense ratio of just 0.10%.

Commemorative Certificate

For younger kids, the obvious answer for making stock more personal that you’ll find all over the Internet is to make or buy a commemorative framed stock certificate. Although you can get a real certificate generated, you don’t want to. A real certificate is like taking your shares of stock to cash; if anyone steals that certificate, they now own your stock. Much better to hold your shares with a qualified custodian, like Vanguard or Schwab, and then use one of the hundreds of certificate templates available in Microsoft Word to create a commemorative one.

Another way to make the certificate special is look up the fund online to find out the top 10 holdings and then personalize your commemorative certificate with a few of their recognizable products or promotional materials.

Gift them a Financial Planning Meeting

For older kids and especially teens, they probably don’t want a commemorative certificate, but a lesson in finances might be much appreciated. As a part of our Intergenerational Planning services, we are happy to provide investment advice for client family members who otherwise may not meet our client minimums. If you are a client, feel free to coordinate with us to gift your family recipient a meeting with our team. We can even help you open the accounts and make the stock transfer, if you’d like.

Photo by Audrey Fretz on Unsplash

Follow Megan Russell:

Chief Operating Officer, CFP®, APMA®

Megan Russell has worked with Marotta Wealth Management most of her life. She loves to find ways to make the complexities of financial planning accessible to everyone. She is the author of over 800 financial articles and is known for her expertise on tax planning.