One of the best parts of Christmas is opening up an unexpectedly awesome gift from a thoughtful giver.
Even better is watching someone else open up the perfect gift you found for them.
Unfortunately, the gift-giving part of the holidays often contributes a big part of the stress most people feel during the season. It’s not easy trying to find something nice for everyone on the list while fighting the bustling, crazy crowds and keeping the budget from ballooning like Santa on post-Christmas cookie eating binge.
A lot of families save money by doing gift exchanges in which every person buys a gift for just one person, rather than everyone in the whole family. Names are drawn, a budget is set, and gifts are purchased.
It’s budget friendly, but can become a bit stale.
Alphabet Gift Exchange.
Draw names as usual, then have everyone select a letter of the alphabet and get a gift for their person that starts with that letter.
Around the World.
Get everyone to pick a different country (preferably not the one in which you live) and buy a gift that fits the country. Participants can choose their own country or draw one at random.
The Gift That Keeps Giving.
What about having everyone purchase a magazine subscription based on the interests of the recipient? Grandpa gets Field & Stream, Grandma gets Quilt Magazine, Aunt Jenny gets Epicurious, and your nephew Nicholas gets Sports Illustrated for Kids. Amazon.com has tons and tons of options.
Choose Your Own Theme.
In a similar vein, your family or officemates can decide on your own theme for the year. Then everyone’s gift needs to fit the theme. For instance, if you choose “red,” all the gifts need to be predominantly red (or feature the comedian Red Skelton, perhaps.) How about these ideas to get you started: Books. Soft. Shiny. Food. Wood. Old. Childlike.
Left or Right.
Designate someone to write a fun story that contains many instances of the words “left” and “right” (but not an equal number of times). Then have everyone buy a gift and have someone wrap each one in the same paper with no names on them. Every one grabs a gift, and as the story is read aloud, the packages are exchanged accordingly each time “left” or “right” is said. At the end of the story, the gift you end up with is yours.
Make a rule that everything has to be handmade. Of course, you could make it (or bake it) yourself, or you can choose to purchase something from a local artisan. Etsy.com is also a great place to find neat handmade treasures from talented folks.
Good or Gag.
For exchanges in which the gifts aren’t tied to a specific recipient, mix in some gag gifts with real good ones. Each person then picks their present based on packaging alone. Of course, you can modify and adapt any of the standard rules in the popular White Elephant/Yankee Swap tradition.
So there you go; a few ideas for sprucing up your family’s next Christmas gift exchange. Do you have any to add? Share yours in the comments!