How to spice up a gift exchange?
September 15, 2007 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Ideas for twist on traditional holiday gift exchange?

My family wants to do something different for our yearly holiday gift exchange. We normally draw names and set a dollar limit, but we want to shake it up a bit this year. There are 7 of us and we are spread out across the country (so we can't do a Yankee swap, for instance). Does anyone have any ideas of interesting things to do with a holiday gift exchange?
posted by FergieBelle to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This year for Christmas a friend of mine is having a catering chef prepare a meal for me and my wife. No, this isn't a "spend $200 and I'll come cook a meal in your kitchen" deal, although those exist too. It's a "we'll deliver a tasty meal to you and your wife to your doorstep" and all you have to do is eat it. I think it's costing him about $60.
posted by furtive at 9:02 AM on September 15, 2007

Get everybody to make a fantastic mix cd and make copies for everybody.
posted by theora55 at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2007

Best answer: Perhaps you could pick some kind of theme. For example, everyone has to buy a gift for the person that begins with the same letter as the receiver's first name. Or all the gifts have to be green. Or all the gifts have to be handmade. Or, since you live all across the country, the gifts have to relate somehow to the state in which the sender lives (i.e., a giver who lives in Texas sends a gift that has yellow roses on it). Or the gift has to be accompanied by a poem which mentions the article you've given them. These are just ideas - you can come up with your own based on what kind of interests and characteristics you have as a family, be they literary, artistic, musical, into practical jokes, or what have you.
posted by orange swan at 11:04 AM on September 15, 2007

The BF's family all buys the same type of presents for everyone - DVD's, gift cards etc. The gifts are all sent to the house at which the main family holiday dinner will take place (because his family is also spread out). Then they sit in a circle with the gift we brought, others sitting in for the people that can't be there with their gifts. Then someone reads this story, and we pass the gifts accordingly. Everyone ends up with whatever they're holding at the end of the story. Often, we also have the person that's missing on a speakerphone so they can hear what's going on.
posted by youngergirl44 at 11:55 AM on September 15, 2007

My wife's family does this thing where we pile all the gifts on a table, and everyone draws a number.

Then, when the first number is called, they go up to the table and pick a gift and open it.

The next person now has the option to open a new gift or take the first person's gift. If they take the first person's gift, the first person can now take a new gift off the table.

As this plays-out, you can get quite a lot of gift-swapping as more and more gifts become available.

Once everyone is happy with their gifts, the game is over.

Obviously, this can be a hell of a lot of fun with a larger crowd. It's doubly fun if some smart-asses bring gag gifts. It's also kind of funny if grandma brings a gift that she thinks is darling, but everyone else wouldn't be caught dead with.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:13 PM on September 15, 2007

Thorzdad, that's a Yankee Swap.
posted by jamaro at 12:42 PM on September 15, 2007

We southerners call Yankee Swap "Dirty Santa"
posted by peace_love_hope at 3:36 PM on September 15, 2007

In Canada, what you call the "Yankee Swap" is known as the "Snitch and Grab".
posted by orange swan at 5:04 PM on September 15, 2007

Best answer: As I have been organizing and decluttering this week, I realized that a lot of my stuff is nice stuff and perhaps someone else would like it! Why not find things you already own that you think someone else would like? You can still draw names - but the gifts they give have to be stuff they already own.

Or how about just a book exchange? Still pick names but you only give a gift of a book.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:48 PM on September 15, 2007

Best answer: Trade magazine subscriptions? Or have everyone give a gift that symbolizes something about you that has changed in the past year. So for instance, if you've gotten into hockey, you could give a jersey and a hockey puck.
posted by chickaboo at 1:51 PM on September 17, 2007

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