SkyMall Monday: Money Maze & Bilz Pinball Game

Bilz Pinball Money Maze Game SkyMall MondayThe holiday season is in full swing and everyone is looking for the best gifts for friends and family. The SkyMall Monday headquarters is filling up with presents for our favorite people. Sometimes, though, you simply have no idea what to get for someone. No matter how much you rack your brain, you just can’t come up with the perfect gift for someone in your life. Whether it’s your coworker, mailman or mistress, you may realize that they’re better off picking out their own gifts. That’s when you need to suck it up and give them a gift card or, if you want to limit them only by their imagination, cash. However, gift cards and cash can seem cold, easy and, possibly, lazy. Not on your part, that is. You were generous. Cash and gift cards are easy for the recipients. Make those people earn their gifts by forcing them to solve a puzzle to get to that sweet consumer gold. Thanks to SkyMall, now your friends and loved ones will be able to cherish the greatest gift of all: humility. Because, after a few glasses of eggnog and with everyone staring at them, they’re going to have a hard time freeing those gift cards from the Bilz Pinball Game and Money Maze.

While there may be no greater holiday thrill than opening a giant wrapped box to find exactly the gift that you were hoping for (oh yes, I remember getting my original Nintendo very well), as an adult there is a simple joy in receiving cash. I mean, it’s money. It sure as heck beats underpants, a hideous sweater or a Two and a Half Men box set. The down side of receiving cash is that it lacks the oohs and ahhs elicited by flashier gifts. If you want the recipient of your monetary gift to be the center of attention, there’s no better way to do so than by forcing them to solve a puzzle to get their hands on their holiday booty.

Think it’s perverse to require someone to solve a puzzle to receive their holiday gift? Believe that it’s not in the Christmas spirit to make someone earn their presents? Well, seems to me that complaining about your gift might just put you on Santa’s naughty list.

Money Maze Bilz Pinball SkyMall MondayThe Bilz Pinball Game and Money Maze also serve another wonderful function: They allow the gift-giver to avoid shopping for holiday cards. Normally, you would put cash in a greeting card. Have you gone to a stationery store to shop for cards during the holidays? Christmas songs are blaring, the shelves are in complete disarray thanks ravenous customers and the employees are counting down the days until their seasonal position is eliminated by slashing marks into their wrists. In other words, it’s not the most pleasant retail environment. By putting the cash in one of these puzzles, you save yourself the time and depression of having to shop for cards. It’s a win-win.

This year, stop trying to figure out what everyone on your list wants for Christmas and Chanukah. Just get them all cash and lock it in either the Bilz Pinball Game or Money Maze. They’ll be sure to thank you when they’re done muttering obscenities under their breath while trying to solve the puzzle that is holding their gifts captive. Frankly, if you have to endure their company at yet another holiday party, the least you can do is make them get carpal tunnel while navigating their gift.

Happy Holidays!

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

Keep tabs on your tabs – International travel tip

Carry an envelope to keep every charge slip you accrue — but before filing them away, write the date, location, and reason for the charge on them.

Your monthly statement will likely list the charge detail in the language of the country where you traveled. Having your own notes on the receipts will give you a way to reconcile to your statement and provide extra assurance that all charges were legitimate.

[Photo: Flickr | Tim Morgan]

Honest people still exist – NYC Cabbie returns handbag with $21,000 in cash

When Bangladeshi cabbie Mukul Asadujjaman found a handbag containing $21,000 in cash, passports and jewelry in the back of his cab, he could have shrugged and handed it in to lost and found. Some cabbies may even have decided it was their lucky day, and pocketed the cash.

Mr. Asadujjaman did the best possible thing – he drove 50 miles to the original pickup address, left his phone number, and reunited the owners with their property. He wouldn’t even accept a reward, turning it down saying that as a Muslim he could not accept it.

Of course, this should serve as a reminder to anyone with that much cash, that carrying it in a handbag in a New York cab is a really bad idea.

The money belonged to an Italian family, visiting the United States, and the loss of all their money and passports would have severely screwed up their plans. Kudos to Mr. Asadujjaman, it really is refreshing to see that honest people still exist.%Gallery-67351%

%Gallery-64352%

Seven things to do with your unused foreign currency

Despite only taking out as much as money from the ATM as you thought you’d need each day, you somehow managed to come in under budget. Now what do you do with this extra foreign currency you’ve got burning a hole through your picket? You could convert it back to your home currency, getting hit with exchange fees again, or you could try one of these seven options.

Save it for next time.

If the currency in question is Euros, it may make more sense to just save the bills for your next trip to Europe. By the time you convert the money back into dollars (or whatever your home currency is), the amount you lose to fees may not make it financially worthwhile, even if the exchange rate eventually changes in your favor. Obviously, with more exotic currencies, this isn’t a good option. Who knows when you’ll be able to return to Uruguay.

Sell it to another traveler.
If you know of another traveler heading to the destination soon, you can offer to sell them your leftover currency. Offer then a rate that is lower than what they pay at the bank or once they arrive in country, but higher than what you would make selling the currency back for dollars. In this way, you both win.Donate it.
You were going to spend it anyways right? Why not give it to a worthy cause? At a few airports, I have seen donation boxes out near the security line. Throw your spare change in here and you may help improve life for someone in that country. You could also convert it and donate the changed bills to a charity at home.

Display it.
I’m fascinated by foreign currency. I always keep one or two of the most interesting or colorful bills and coins from every country I visit. I keep them in a glass jar on my mantel, as both a unique decoration and a subtle reminder of the places I have been.

Spend it on airport souvenirs. …
After arriving at the airport and realizing that (after we took out the money we wanted to keep and take home to display) we still had close to 100 South African Rand (a little more than $10) my husband and I decided to blow it on souvenirs. Since we had some time to kill, we each took 50 Rand and set out to spend as much of the money as we could on last-minute airport souvenir tchotchkes. We had a fun time and came away with a few silly mementos of our trip that we otherwise would not have bought.

Or be a big spender at the airport
I hate spending money at the airport. After spending money throughout my trip, I hate the idea of dumping more money right before I head home. But, when I have some leftover currency to get rid of, it doesn’t seem as annoying. Use the opportunity to get rid of the cash in style. Treat yourself to a a few glasses of quality wine at the airport bar, opt for the more expensive entree, or spring for one of the massages offered in your terminal. It doesn’t make sense to be wasteful of course, but sometimes it is fun to enjoy the little extras that you normally wouldn’t.

Add it to your travel fund.
If you do plan on changing the money back into your home currency, don’t just use the money for groceries or bus fare. Put into a special fund earmarked for travel and contribute to it every time you come home from a trip. After a few trips, you may not have enough to cover a plane ticket, but you might have amassed enough cash to cover a few splurges on your next trip.