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Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas

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Christmas gift exchanges are a fun activity enjoyed in many workplaces as well as school. Coming up with ideas that suit a variety of people can be difficult. This page contains Christmas gift exchange ideas.


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By 23 found this helpful
November 29, 2010

The soon-to-be here Christmas holiday often has people wondering how to do a gift exchange. Here's a fun way that's good for parties, group gatherings, teens and adults: Have everyone bring a gift ($10 or less) and sit in a big circle holding their gift. Then, read this story out loud and every time they hear "left" they pass the gift they are holding left. Every time they hear "right" they pass the gift they are holding right. At the end of the story whatever gift they have in their hands is theirs to keep. Here's the story:


Christmas was almost here, and Mother (RIGHT) was finishing the Christmas baking.

Father (RIGHT), Sue (RIGHT), and Billy (RIGHT) returned from their last-minute Christmas errands.

"There's not much (LEFT) to be done," said Father (RIGHT) as he came into the kitchen.

"Did you leave the basket of food at church?" asked Mother (RIGHT).

"I (LEFT) it (RIGHT) where you told me to," said Father (RIGHT).

"I'm glad my shopping is done," said Billy (RIGHT). "I don't have any money (LEFT)."

The hall telephone rang, and Susan (RIGHT) (LEFT) to answer it.

She rushed back and told the family "Aunt Tillie (RIGHT) (LEFT) a package for us (RIGHT) on Grandma (RIGHT)'s porch.

I'll go over there (RIGHT) now and get it." she said as she (LEFT) in a rush.

Father (RIGHT) (LEFT) the kitchen and brought in the Christmas tree.

By the time Susan (RIGHT) returned, Mother (RIGHT), Father (RIGHT), and Billy (RIGHT) had begun trimming the tree.

The entire (RIGHT) family sang carols as they finished the decorating.

Then they (LEFT) all the presents arranged under the tree and went to bed, hoping they had selected the (RIGHT) gifts for their family.

Now I hope you have the (RIGHT) present for yourself, because that's all that's (LEFT) of our story.

Except to wish you a Merry Christmas. Isn't that (RIGHT)?

By iluv2craft from Rochester, NY

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December 7, 20100 found this helpful

About 20+ years ago, my late mother and I were with a large family gathering at Christmastime, and we did this game. Toward the end, I ended up with something I really liked (a red plastic Christmas bathroom set, with cup, soapdish and toothbrush holder, with a Peanuts-Snoopy design), so I left the circle and said "I'm not passing this on, I want it!" I still have it and put it out every year! As it turned out, the game was over, but a couple of minutes later, a cousin said she forgot to tell us to make one more pass to the left. So she messed up, and if she hadn't and I had stayed, I would have lost my nice bathroom set. All's well that ends well!

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November 5, 20160 found this helpful

A origami paper tree with tiny paper packages underneath.

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This is a guide about paper themed Christmas gift swap ideas. Some families and groups like to give gifts based on a chosen theme.


By 1 found this helpful
December 13, 2010

Our family usually draws names and we have a limit to spend on each person. Next year we decided to do something out of the ordinary and have a 'thrift store gift Christmas'. It will be fun to see how many more gifts you can buy for a person on your list. Anything on their list that you couldn't find at a thrift store, can be bought new for their birthday.


By CDC from FL

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December 13, 20100 found this helpful

I don't shop at thrift stores and it is not because I am too good. I was always taught that if you can afford to shop at other stores, then shop there because the Goodwill store and thrift stores were for people who could not afford the other stores. When someone who can afford the other stores goes and buys at the thrift stores, then they are buying up things that were meant for people who were having a rough time right now.

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June 24, 20160 found this helpful

Four adults in santa hats laughing and exchanging brightly colored gifts

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This is a guide about "What is a white elephant gift exchange?". This fun, popular gift exchange is somewhat of a party game.


June 16, 20160 found this helpful

Two men and two women laughing and shaking presents by a Christmas tree.

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This guide contains white elephant gift ideas. Christmas party fun can include buying a gag gift that you don't know who will end up with it until the end of the exchange.


October 8, 20081 found this helpful

If you get together with extended family over the holidays, gift giving can get really expensive (especially if you get everyone an individual gift). To cut down on costs we have instituted a "Dirty Santa" or "Yankee Swap" gift exchange for the adults.

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November 8, 2006

Family Gift Exchanges. My brother, sister and I (and families) exchange at Christmas. We set a dollar amount per family. Every year, we know which sibling's family we will have (I have my brother one year, my sister the next and then back to my brother).

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By 0 found this helpful
December 17, 2005

Gather neighbors and friends and exchange gift certificates for jobs and tasks that others can do to help each other for no charge. For example: haircuts, babysitting, baking, raking, etc...

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December 19, 20040 found this helpful

When I was young, we each had our Christmas at our own home Christmas morning and then rushed to Nanny's house where Great Aunts and Uncles and everyone showed up for a gathering.

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November 30, 20040 found this helpful

Got some $10 gift exchanges to do? Hit the dollar store for ingredients for a theme basket, like same scent toiletries, hair accessories and a hairbrush for a girl, art supplies for a young artist, flavored coffees, teas, cocoa for someone who likes them. Put them all in a 50 cent gift bag and finish with a bow of your choice. By Linda

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

November 3, 2006

My place of employment is having a Christmas party where you buy or make a gift for about $20. We all pick numbers. We get to pick a present as our number comes up. The person next can take your gift or anyone else's, etc. Any good ideas on a general gift? Last year I did a movie package with Blockbuster rental with popcorn and candy for a movie night. Any ideas of any kind are welcome. We have some pretty crazy people there.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 14, 20060 found this helpful

We have done this at our employee party. Buy the current TV Guide, some microwave popcorn, hot chocolate mix, etc. for one basket. Another popular one was Pamper Yourself: A basket of bath oil, bubble bath, a good CD, some candles, bath sponges, etc. Or dinner for two: Some canned dinners (or frozen or microwavable), deli bread, salad mix, candles, etc. An exercise video with some deluxe sugar free drinks, snacks, etc. Breakfast in bed included pop tarts, juice, granola bars, fancy coffee mix, scone mix, etc. We had fun with all of it!!

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By guest (Guest Post)
December 10, 20080 found this helpful

Last year I picked up a DVD set of all the Ghostbusters movies. It was under $20 at Wal-Mart and a HUGE hit at the party.

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By guest (Guest Post)
December 24, 20080 found this helpful

The gift I brought was stolen until frozen (that's how this game was played) it was so popular. 20$ of lotto scratch off tickets. I stole the four $ certs to kfc, jamba, starbucks & in & out till frozen. Another good gift is a money jar that counts your change or $20 gift cert to target or walmart.

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December 13, 20100 found this helpful

Talk with people that you exchange gifts with this year to see if they would like to change the theme for next year's gift giving, like shopping at thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, only, for gifts. You might be surprised!

Or set a dollar amount and see who can get the best value for the set amount of money!

Make up rules and make a game of it! There are a lot of really nice things that you find throughout the year. It's fun and will save on the hectic Christmas shopping rush next year.

By Syd


Prepare for Next Christmas - Used Gifts Theme

Oh, I like this, I think my sister in laws might be game to try it! (03/28/2007)

By fairy74

Prepare for Next Christmas - Used Gifts Theme

Our family came up with a "White Elephant" exchange. Each adult wraps something they don't need or want anymore and brings it. There are just 2 rules: no gift can be broken and no gift can be entered into the White Elephant exchange 2 years in a row. The gift can be ugly, though!

It's a good way to clean out your house, or you can shop yard sales for funny things to bring. It doesn't have to be just 1 thing - some folks have brought boxes full of things like VHS movies their kids outgrew, books they've read, etc. Sometimes you simply don't want the item anymore. No one labels the gift they bring - in fact, some care is taken to just casually place the gifts on a pile for the game to start.

After dinner, the adults sit in a large circle around the room with the gifts in the center. We play our exchange game with 2 decks of cards. One deck is dealt out until everyone in the circle has a few cards and that deck is gone. The other deck is held by the announcer - generally 1 of the teens. The announcer draws 1 card from his deck and calls it. The adult holding the card to match gives it to the announcer and then chooses 1 gift from the pile. The announcer draws a 2nd card from his deck, calls it, and again the person holding the match gives the card to the announcer and then picks a gift from the pile.

BUT HERE THE GAME CHANGES A LITTLE! That 2nd adult may go to the 1st adult and swap the gifts! If 1 of the cards you are holding is called, and you already have a gift, you decide whether to keep it or exchange it with someone else who has 1 - or you can put it back on the pile and choose a different 1. The game continues that way until the pile of gifts is gone (every adult will have 1 gift). From then on, when a card is called the adult holding the match card decides if they want to keep the gift they are holding or swap it for 1 someone else has. Lots of thought goes into those decisions, and lots of good-natured advice is given! Quite often 1 or 2 gifts will become favorites and folks will "fight" for them - swapping back and forth till the cards are gone. Sometimes a gift becomes desired because of being elegantly wrapped, sometimes because of it's size, sometimes because it makes funny noises when it is moved. Folks have been known to put loose marbles in a box with the gift, or putting a very small gift in a very large box. One year my husband brought his gift in a wrinkled old brown paper bag. People "fought" NOT to get that gift! LOL! Imagine my brother's surprise when he opened the gift he "got stuck with" to find an electric drill! My husband had received a new drill and put his old one into the White Elephant exchange. LOL!

Then, 1 by 1, each adult opens the gift they have, and the giver admits who they are while all of us oooo and ahhhh or laugh some more. In our family, we then spend some time swapping the unwrapped gifts if we choose. LOL! We all look forward to our White Elephant gift exchange every year! (10/23/2008)

By Clown

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