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4 Creative Ideas for a Holiday Gift Exchange

Dec 20th, 2013

The holidays have really snuck up on us this year.  In fact, your office may even be about to break for a few days without having held some sort of holiday party or company gift exchange because of how crazy things have gotten.  If this is the case, don’t forgo a celebration just because you think it is too late.  Receiving a gift or two a few weeks after the holiday season is over and it feels like the spirit of gift giving has ceased can be rather exciting, and may leave everyone in the office with a new-found sense of admiration for the employee who had the bright idea to plan a gift exchange.

If you have decided to plan or been charged with the task of planning a gift exchange for the office or a group of friends and you are looking for a theme to center the exchange around, a few entertaining ideas include:

Alphabet Fun

A great way to challenge shoppers and end up with a slew of interesting gifts at the exchange centers around forcing all participants to purchase a gift that starts with a specific letter.  Write each letter of the alphabet that you wish to include on a scrap of paper, mix them all together in a hat or jar, and then draw the lucky letter.  This theme is especially ideal for extended gift exchanges with several different rounds.  Draw a different letter for each round of the exchange, and marvel at the creativity of your friends and coworkers when you get together to exchange gifts at the end of each round.

Around the World

Another gift exchange theme that always yields some interesting, unique, and beautiful gifts is an around-the-world exchange.  Instead of letters of the alphabet, throw the names of thirty or forty countries into a hat.  Have each participant draw a different country.  The gift that a participant obtains for the exchange must have something to do with that country.  Alternatively, you can allow participants to pick a country of their choosing.  Or, add another fun and interactive twist to this gift exchange by instructing participants to spin a globe and purchase a gift that is relevant to the country their pointer fingers land on when the globe stops spinning.


If creativity is a prerequisite for working at your place of employment or you have a group of artsy friends, a do-it-yourself gift exchange is an excellent idea.  Establish a few basic guidelines, such as a maximum dollar amount that can be spent on supplies for making a gift, and leave everything else up to participants.

White Elephant (No-Purchase Variation)

A timeless classic as far as holiday games are concerned, a white elephant gift exchange is always fun when the group that is participating hasn’t given it a shot in several years.  There are several types of white elephant gift exchanges, but that which we are talking about is the classic form in which each participant must gift an object or objects that she owns but presumably does not want.  No purchases should be allowed.

Having a holiday gift exchange can be a great way to foster staff bonding and help your employees and coworkers get to know each other better.  A gift exchange, no matter the time of year, can also serve as a great excuse for getting your friends to showcase their creativity and share a good laugh.


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