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For love or money? Banknote bouquet gets mixed reactions

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, February 13, 2019  /  04:51 pm
For love or money? Banknote bouquet gets mixed reactions

Roses are red, money is blue: Prices for money bouquets start at Rp 250,000 (US$17) excluding the banknotes used. (Instagram/@bloombyvia/-)

Are you looking for a lavish Valentine's gift beyond the usual box of chocolates, roses and giant teddy bears? Banknote bouquet, also known as money bouquet, could be the perfect choice for you.

A money bouquet is comprised of banknotes arranged in a way similar to flower bouquets. Instead of the lovely scent of roses, the bouquet offers the smell of freshly printed bills that one can spend on a night out on the town.

The ostentatious gift has made its mark in many countries, including in Thailand where 20-year-old student Pilaslak Puenchoke last year surprised her boyfriend with a money bouquet of banknotes totaling 100,000 baths (US$3,183) to mark his birthday and Valentine’s day.

The trend is now making the rounds in Indonesia, with many florists adding money bouquets to their product lines. Among them is Silvia, the owner of Instagram-based florist @bloombyvia.

Silvia noticed a spike in Instagram followers and overall orders after introducing the money bouquet in late 2018.

Her products range from a bouquet comprising small bills to a millions-of-rupiah bouquet made of dozens of Rp. 50,000 ($3.56) or Rp. 100,000 bills.

“The customer supplies their own money along with our service charge, which covers the entire process from exchanging the money at the bank up until the bouquet is ready to be delivered,” Silvia said at her workshop in Rawa Belong, West Jakarta.

A man who prefers to be called Randy presented a money bouquet to his girlfriend to avoid the faux pas-prone side of gift giving.

“I had a budget set aside for her gift, but I didn’t know what to get her. I knew what kind of clothes she likes, but she’d know that I’m going to get her a gift if I go around asking her size,” Randy said.  

Randy’s girlfriend accepted the bouquet and laughed about it.

The gift that keeps on giving: Silvia, owner of Instagram based florist @bloombyvia, said that money bouquets were more popular as birthday or graduation gifts than as Valentine's Day gifts. The gift that keeps on giving: Silvia, owner of Instagram based florist @bloombyvia, said that money bouquets were more popular as birthday or graduation gifts than as Valentine's Day gifts. (Instagram/@bloombyvia/-)

While a money bouquet can be a win-win solution for some couples, some women may be offended by such a gift.

“If a man just gifts me money straight up, it’s as if he is buying me,” blogger and musician Mevlied Nahla said.

“I actually love public displays of affection, but gifting money whether in public or in private is still a no from me.”

Meanwhile, university student Naomi Sutono said that it all depended on the marital status of the couple.  

“It’s a bit awkward in dating because you’re spending a lot of your own money on someone else, whereas when you’re married, it can be considered as sharing your wealth with your spouse.”

Another university student Alief Lerry said that he didn’t see anything wrong with gifting a money bouquet among couples, noting that many Indonesians used money for marriage dowry as well.

“I personally wouldn’t give one because I don’t see the point of paying for someone to turn my money into a floral arrangement.”

While handing out money as a gift may seem excessive given the blatant display of wealth, some women believe that money bouquets are acceptable if it’s done in good fun.

“It’s a gift, and you should appreciate it. It’s kind of cute and unique because it’s different from regular flowers, and you can even spend the money on whatever it is that you want,” Agatha Aprilia, 23, said.

Everlasting gift: Money bouquets use crisp banknotes in lieu of fresh flowers, which will eventually wilt. Everlasting gift: Money bouquets use crisp banknotes in lieu of fresh flowers, which will eventually wilt. (Instagram/@bloombyvia/-)

Silvia of @bloombyvianoticed the reluctance of people to make romantic gestures involving money, saying that most of the orders were for graduation or birthday gifts from parents to their children and vice versa.

“Maybe it’s a bit awkward as a gift for your significant other, but we have received such orders although they involve the more traditional roses in them.”

As awkward as it is though, Silvia said that money bouquets could be an interesting alternative to fresh flowers, which can double or triple in price as Valentine’s Day draws closer. Meanwhile, the value of a banknote, well, remains as it is.