Throw a Fun and Frugal Gift Exchange

Everyone has a handful of people in their lives whom they see regularly but are unsure if holiday gift-swapping is protocol. Coworkers, friends from the gym, carpool friends, the parents of your kids’ friends… we’re all very grateful to have these people in our lives but selecting the perfect gift for these not-quite-as-close friends and aquaintences can be tough.

A fun and simple solution that takes pressure off of EVERYONE is a gift exchange! It can happen anywhere, you can stick to a small and silly price limit or parameter, and you’re buying for one person in a group as opposed to several.

Here are some ideas to get you going:

Secret Santa

You know this one. Everyone draws a name and buys for that one person. You can draw from a hat or use a website like to randomly generate the matches.

White Elephant

For this one, set a price limit and everyone buys and brings a wrapped gift, then draws a number. The first person selects a gift. The second person can either steal the first gift (meaning the first person can select a new gift to unwrap) or open a second gift. The third person can steal either of the first two (and then they, in turn, can steal or open a new gift) and so on. Gag gifts and silly stuff are often the winners during this type of gift exchange!


Pick a Theme

Try something low cost and useful. I’ve been to parties where everyone brings a gift of a book, a CD, or a gift card. This levels the playing field and you know what you’re giving and getting! Plus, this concept is super customizable to your particular group. If you’re all gardeners, for example, a plant swap could be fun.

Be Charitable

Rather than spend money on each other, why not gather together and make a donation at an area shelter or food bank? Then treat yourselves to lunch. During the holidays, spending time together and giving back can really boost the holiday spirit more than exchanging stuff.

Swap Ornaments or Cookies

An ornament is a special decoration that could last a lifetime, and who doesn’t love cookies? Some special thought and time goes into selecting and preparing these special holiday features and the gift recipient will really appreciate the effort.

Have a Wrapping Party Instead

Whether you decide to participate in these gift exchanges or not, wrapping has to be done for family gifts! Why not get together with your friends, send the kids out or get a babysitter, and wrap instead? You can share and trade paper so everything looks colorful under the tree after Santa gets to your house. It’s a fun way to get a necessary holiday chore done.

Any other ideas? Email us at!

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