These Gift Exchange Ideas Are Guaranteed to Be Fun for Everyone

·5 min read

Christmas time can be so magical, with all the gorgeous decorations and family traditions. And those warm fuzzies you get when you give or receive a gift from someone in your life―could it get any better? 😍 Part of that gift giving experience is how to distribute gifts. Sure, you can opt for putting them under the tree. But what can be even more fun is planning a holiday gift exchange.

Gift exchange ideas not only make the experience of swapping presents more memorable, but they can be practical, too. They can help you and your family, friends, or coworkers set expectations, budgets, and timeframes. Even the Pioneer Woman herself admits to last minute frenzies where nothing was planned. "I had a series of conniption fits and bought a bunch of junk that was of no use to anyone," Ree Drummond explains. "And so, planning ahead, careful consideration, and yes, moderation, is the key for me." What better way than with a gift exchange!

Photo credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc - Getty Images

Ahead, we've listed out some fun and easy ideas for you to choose. Ree's favorite is the slightly competitive but hilariously fun Dirty Santa, also known as White Elephant, but you can do a simple grab bag and opt for a cozy gift anyone would love. In some options like Secret Santa, you know your recipient and can better focus on gifts for men or gifts for coworkers. Otherwise, you can show your crafty side with DIY exchanges or by hosting a cookie swap.

There are so many options that it's best to pick an idea ahead of time so you can plan. Then get ready for the fun and festivities with your gift exchange! Just don't forget to wrap your gift first.

Secret Santa

This tried-and-true classic is great for coworkers. But Secret Santa gift exchanges also work for large families who want to take the pressure off having to buy so many gifts for so many people. The concept is simple. Set a price limit, say gifts under $25, then place everyone's name in a hat. Each participant draws a name but doesn't reveal who they have until the gift exchange. The gifter can reveal their identity as they give the present or, for even more interactive fun, the recipient must guess who is the gifter!

White Elephant

If you want to have a little friendly competition, opt for Ree's favorite and go with a White Elephant gift exchange instead. Each participant brings a wrapped gift, usually around the same value like gifts under $50, and they are all placed in designated location. Everyone draws a number to determine the order to go in to select a gift. The person can unwrap the gift or choose to steal the previous person’s gift instead!

Grab Bag

If other games seem a little too complicated or competitive, keep it simple with a grab bag. Set a theme like kitchen gifts or a monetary value, place the wrapped gifts in a bag, and let gifters choose numbers in a hat to determine their order. You can make it funny with gag gifts or splurge a little more to gifts under $100 to make it more enticing. This is such a flexible option!

Cookie Swap

No list of ideas for The Pioneer Woman would be complete without some delicious treats! A cookie swap is old fashioned fun, where participants make a big batch of their favorite cookie recipe and exchange one or a few of each. Everyone leaves the party with a tray of delectable goodies, and they only had to bake once! It’s a great way to save cash and time, while also being inspired to bake up new ideas. (Or if you know someone going to swap, opt for a gift for bakers to help them out!)

Craft Exchange

DIY gift ideas don't just have to be food related. If you're in a crafting community, show off your skills by swapping projects instead! You can designate an idea like DIY Christmas ornaments or set a monetary value. Then play Secret Santa, White Elephant, or Grab Bag to distribute.

Regift Exchange

Let's be honest, we've all received a gift that isn't quite what we would want. Take the stigma out of regifting and make it the theme! It's not only great to avoid clutter and waste, but it's friendlier on the wallet as well. Make it funny with exchanging the worst or strangest gift or focus on gifting to someone you know would enjoy it more. Coffee drinkers, you'll be able to find a home for that amazing tea gift in no time with this idea.

Buy One, Give One

If you want to support those in need this holiday season, try an exchange where you give a gift to someone in a Secret Santa-style swap but also bring a gift of equal value to donate. You can pick a charity like Toys for Tots and make a big impact with everyone participating. It will feel good to give back.

Musical Gifts

Think of this as a mashup between Grab Bag and the kid's game of musical chairs. Everyone sits in a circle and passes a wrapped gift around. When the music stops, the person holding the gift gets to keep it and exits the game. It continues until all the participants have a gift. Then open together to reveal what everyone got!

Treasure Hunt

A fun way to distribute small stocking stuffers is to hide them all over house, and let the kids hunt for them like Easter eggs. It gives them an activity to do, while you have time to rest a little while you watch. (Even pouty teenagers might get a kick out of this if the gifts are good. 😉)

Trivia

Go with general Christmas trivia or get creative with themes like Yellowstone questions while you pass around cowboy gifts. Either way, the gifts go in the center and whoever answers the question correctly gets to pick a gift and exit the game. You can add an end-of-game stealing moment for the last person remaining to keep it interesting!

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