lottery ticket gifts ideas

300 million reasons why lottery tickets make a terrible gift

Ronnie Foster had a big win in the North Carolina lottery. Video Elephant

Florida, like many states, has a commercial that pushes buying lottery tickets as holiday gifts. The ad actually calls scratch-off tickets “the must-get gifts of the season,” saying, “Pretty much everyone is going to want them.”

That may be true – people probably do want them – but that doesn’t stop them from being a terrible gift. Giving someone a lottery ticket is similar to buying them a carton of cigarettes: It may be what they want, but your present supports a bad habit.

Lottery tickets – whether they’re “scratchers” or multistate games such as Mega Millions or Powerball – sell a pipe dream. You spend a dollar, or maybe up to $20, for an instant ticket, and you might win millions.

The problem is the odds are overwhelmingly stacked against you, so playing really amounts to throwing your money away. You’d be better off gifting your loved ones a sure thing, such as a gift card with real value or actual cash they can use how they like.

But somebody has to win.

There’s no exact formula, but lotteries generally pay back 50% to 60% of the total money bet as prizes. That may sound like a lot, but it’s well below the 86% minimum payback that Nevada mandates for slot machines and video poker. Most Las Vegas casinos set their machines for closer to 90% payback, and some forms of video poker pay out close to 99%, according to

Slot machine payback works a bit like the lottery in one way: The big payouts account for much of the money paid back. Yes, someone will win that prize, but the odds of it being you are tiny. Yes, you might hit a smaller jackpot on a slot machine (the kind that keeps you playing), or you may win a few bucks on a lottery ticket or scratch-off card (which you might spend on more tickets or cards), but you’re astoundingly unlikely to take home the big prize.

A website for the Iowa lottery spelled out how bad the odds are of winning the big prize in Powerball or Mega Millions:

The odds of winning the jackpot in Mega Millions are about 1 in 302.6 million. The odds of winning the jackpot in Powerball are about 1 in 292.2 million. (The odds are based upon the total number of combinations available to play in each game.)

Games with lower top prizes come with better odds, but a one in 10 million chance to win $1 million is still an irresponsible way to spend your money.

So many better ways to spend your money

The average American spent $219.54 on lottery tickets in 2017, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. That’s money that could have been invested. It may seem like a small amount, but if you invest that money, over time, you’ll have a massive return.

If you take $200 each year for 30 years and invest it in the stock market, assuming an annual return of 9% (the low end of the historical average), you’ll have nearly $30,000. To put that another way, you invested $6,000 and will end up with five times that amount.

Investing is the opposite of the lottery. If you invest in the stock market – and buying low-cost index funds is a smart way to start – history says that over the long term, you’ll win. If you start early and invest $2,000 a year instead of $200, you will have nearly $300,000 saved. If you start at age 20 and save for 45 years to retire at 65, that same $2,000 per year earns you around $1.1 million.

People may think that they need the lottery to become millionaires. The reality is that all they need is time . and to make better choices about how they spend their money.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Offer from the Motley Fool: The $16,728 Social Security bonus most retirees overlook

If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. A handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. One easy trick could pay you as much as $16,728 more . each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

It may seem like an innocent gesture, but it reinforces bad behavior.

New Jersey Lottery Holiday Scratch Offs – Easy, Quick, & Cheap Teacher Gift Ideas

This is a paid article on behalf of the New Jersey Lottery for New Jersey Lottery Instant Games. You must be 18 or older to buy a lottery ticket. The New Jersey Lottery reminds players that it’s only a game…remember to play responsibly. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1800-GAMBLER®. For more information visit New Jersey Lottery

10 Teachers… 22 if you count the related arts ‘specials’ teachers!

In the past when the holidays approached, I found myself overwhelmed with the idea of teachers’ gifts. There are between 20-30 teachers I could potentially be shopping for. Does every teacher get a gift? Do related arts teachers get left off the list? What about the school secretaries? School nurses? If I was going to be able to send in teachers’ gifts for every teacher, I needed easy, cheap teacher gift ideas.

New Jersey Lottery Holiday Scratch-Offs – Easy, Quick, & Cheap Teacher Gift Ideas

Then, I had a lightbulb moment. I would use New Jersey Lottery Instant Games as teacher gifts. I remember how fun it was when I taught and someone had gifted me lottery tickets. It was a gift that showed thought but could also pay off big. I headed over to my local Wawa and used the New Jersey Lottery Instant Games machine and bought lottery tickets for each teacher. They loved it! Some even got lucky before the school break started.

That’s why this year when the New Jersey Lottery offered me the opportunity to work with them, again, on a marketing campaign to promote New Jersey Lottery tickets as gifts, I jumped at the chance.

This is our third year working with the NJ Lottery. I know lottery tickets as teacher gifts are a fabulous solution for anyone like me looking for inexpensive teacher gift ideas. I love having new ways each year to present lottery scratch-off tickets as gifts for teachers.

What makes New Jersey Lottery Holiday Scratch-Off Tickets a great teacher gift idea?

New Jersey Lottery Holiday Scratch-Offs are a quick teacher gift idea that don’t require standing in line or trying to find the right size. You don’t have to travel far or overplan for it. Wawas are everywhere and they are open 24 hours.

No matter whether you are buying teacher gifts well in advance or the last morning before school winter break, you can still do New Jersey lottery tickets as teacher gifts. Here’s the best part. New Jersey Lottery Holiday Scratch-Offs are a cheap teacher gift idea. They’re available in denominations of $1, $2, $5, and $10. Pick the amount that’s right for you.

How do you wrap New Jersey Lottery Holiday Scratch-Offs?

Here’s the fun part. You can get as simple as tucking the lottery tickets into a card and writing a witty saying like below or you can get more elaborate by creating a craft that incorporates the NJ Lottery instant game tickets into the craft. Over the years I have tried a little bit of everything. With a few items from the local dollar store, anyone can add some embellishments to make lottery tickets extra special. Take a look.

11 Ways to Gift New Jersey Holiday Scratch-Off Tickets

Send them with the elves

Send them with an elf! Three years ago, I was able to get these personalized elves. These elves went to our school secretaries because we are so ‘lucky’ to have them.

A snowman with a NJ lottery ticket is a ‘cool’ gift

Last year, my friend, a stuffed snowman, accompanied some of my New Jersey lottery tickets gifts.

Wrap them with a wreath

I’ve also added them to a wreath. I was able to find small wreaths like this at my local dollar store. I added a few New Jersey Lottery instant game tickets to the wreath with a dot of glue under each ticket to hold it into place.

Create a lucky money tree

Last year I wasn’t able to find small wreaths. Instead I created what I hoped would be each teacher’s personal money tree. Using the 2019 NJ Lottery tickets I created two versions of Christmas trees.

Stuff NJ Lottery tickets in a stocking

Stuff them in a stocking. Mini stockings are a perfect way to gift lottery tickets. Just place them inside with an edge sticking out so teachers can see the gift that is to come.

I love that at this size, you can still easily mail them with a card in a standard-size card envelope. Or you can add a little more pizzazz with a stocking like the one I found last year. These stockings are available this year too.

Hang them by garland

Hang them by the garland. This might be my favorite idea. I found garland with Christmas trees and snowflake mini-clothespins. The garlands came with 12 clothespins for $1.

I was able to cut the garland down to 4 segments. I attached each clothespin to a New Jersey Lottery Instant Games Scratch-Off ticket. Then, I gave some of the teachers a string of lottery tickets. I couldn’t find that same garland this year but you could create the same look with any garland or even pipe cleaners.

Slip them in Santa’s sleigh

Be open to ideas! As I closely examined the Christmas decorations at the dollar store, I kept my mind open to the possibilities of what could work. I’d pick up an item and examine if it would work; if it could work. Some items were too big. Others were too small. In addition to stockings, snowmen, elves, trees, and garland, I came across these sleighs. I thought these could be perfect for gifting a teacher one or more New Jersey Lottery Scratch-Offs.

Hang NJ Lottery tickets from a giving tree

I love these little pouches I found for this year’s NJ Lottery tickets. They were meant for gift cards, but they are the perfect size for NJ Lottery Scratch-Off tickets.

If there’s a Christmas tree in the teachers’ lounge fill it with enough lottery tickets, one for each teacher. Then, as teachers stop in for their prep period or lunch, they can pick one for them. It’s a great socially distant way to still show teachers you are thinking of them this year.

Send them in a giftable mailbox

Check out the little mailboxes below. Aren’t they an adorable way to deliver some luck for the teachers on your shopping list. They are available in a variety of sizes, so they can perfectly fit any size lottery ticket you purchase. Then, I added in the colored shredded paper, leftover from other packages we’ve received, to give it a little holiday pizzazz.

Pack scratch off tickets in holiday tins & jars

Sweeten your lottery ticket gift by tucking them into a candy jar or small container. Shredded color paper, NJ Lottery tickets, and some hard candy make for a sweet, inexpensive gift for teachers.

Tuck them into small gift bags

Last but not least, this year the dollar store had wider gift bags than in the past. The wider size allows the gift bags to hold a few NJ Lottery scratch-off tickets without needing to fold them. Previous bags were much narrower.

Watch this fun video from the New Jersey Lottery

Win even more with the Million Dollar Replay

Million Dollar Replay allows VIP Club members to enter eligible, non-winning Scratch-Offs into quarterly second chance drawings for a chance to be selected as one (1) of four-hundred (400) Quarterfinalists who win a $250 prize and entry into the yearly Grand Prize Drawing for a chance to win one (1) of fifteen (15) prizes ranging from $10,000 up to $1,000,000.

Lucky quotes for gifting teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

To finish off gifting teachers lottery tickets, include one of these witty quotes I came up with, on the card with the lottery ticket.

Lucky quotes for gifting any teacher or school secretaries lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • We’re so lucky to have you as a teacher.
  • Our family hit the jackpot with you as a teacher.
  • Our school lucked out to have you there on the support team.

Lucky quotes for gifting math teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • I hope this adds up to a lucky holiday for you.
  • No matter how many times we do the math, it all adds up to our family being lucky to have a teacher like you.

Lucky quotes for gifting reading teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • I hope this card leads to a great story.
  • I conclude I’ve been lucky to have you as my reading teacher.
  • If you can read my mind you know I’m wishing good luck for you.

Lucky quotes for gifting social studies teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • History shows people get lucky scratching lottery tickets. May history repeat itself for you.
  • Historically speaking, we don’t think we’ve ever been so lucky to have a teacher like you.

Lucky quotes for gifting science teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • Hoping this experiment in luck will lead to great results.
  • My hypothesis is that you will have a lucky holiday.
  • Your great teaching and our good luck have resulted in a fun science class this year.

Lucky quotes for gifting gym and physical education teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • We hope your holiday ‘shapes’ up to be a lucky one.
  • One two scratch. One two scratch. One two scratch.. Here’s hoping this scratching exercise will lead to good luck for you.

Lucky quotes for gifting art teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • With a little luck and some scratching, may this be a beautiful holiday for you and your family.
  • This is one piece of scratch art I hope brings you good fortune this year.

Lucky quotes for gifting music teachers lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • The sound of you winning would be music to my ears.
  • Let’s scratch a tune for some good luck for you.

Lucky quotes for gifting school librarians lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • I hope this ‘checks out’ to be a lucky day for you.
  • For someone who is always helping others find what they need. I hope you find good luck with this card.

Lucky quotes for gifting school nurses lottery tickets from the NJ Lottery

  • I won’t be hurt if you win. I’ll be happy!
  • Scratches and shapes you want to see. Good luck!

The New Jersey Lottery ( is introducing 4 new Holiday Scratch-Offs ($1, $2, $5 Happy Holidays, and $10 $1,00,000 Spectacular). Visit the New Jersey Lottery’s website to learn more.

Which New Jersey Lottery instant games will you gift to teachers?

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enjoy our ideas for gifting New Jersey Lottery Holiday Scratch Offs tickets as easy, quick and cheap teacher gift ideas for every teacher on your list. ]]>