PLanning 101

wedding pros


real weddings

Ridiculously detail-oriented and passionate about beautiful + functional design.

Meet margaux

Just Engaged?

Get our FREE 'First Steps' Checklist - all the things you should be doing BEFORE you start planning!


December 5, 2012


Super 7 – Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

‘Tis the season……so many people to buy gifts for! But, that’s what gift exchanges are for, right? Here are some ideas for your Office Party, Book Club, Networking Group, Super large family or any other gift exchanges you may be having this year!

Book Swap
I know we’re living in an age where you can just download books on to whatever device you’re carrying around all day – but I can’t help it, I love the feeling of actually turning pages and the smell of new print. However, just because I liked a book doesn’t necessarily mean I’m ever going to read it again. A few years ago my husband and I hosted a ‘Holiday Book Exchange’ where all of our guests brought a book they had read and enjoyed to swap with friends.

I purchased little photo bookmarks and placed #’s in the photo frame, and guests picked one at the door to determine what order they would choose their book. The bookmarks then served as favors, and everyone left with a new (to them) book and a little gift. We left the books unwrapped so people could make their selections. You could have people tell a little bit about why they brought their book and why they liked it, or have fun guessing which person actually brought the book after it is selected.

White Elephant Party
I know it goes by many different names (Dirty Santa, Yankee Swap), but this is the mother of all gift exchange parties, sure to bring some laughs. Everyone brings a funny gift (set a monetarily limit beforehand – usually less than $5 or $10), wrapped to impress and disguise what it actually is. Your guests draw numbers to pick the order they will pick a gift, and get a certain # of ‘steals’ (we usually set this at 2 or it gets out of hand!).

Here’s how it goes:
Guest #1 picks a gift from the pile and unwraps it for all to see.
Guest #2 can then pick another gift, or ‘steal’ the one already unwrapped if they want it. {If Guest #1’s gift is ‘stolen’, they get to pick another wrapped gift from the pile.}
Guest #3 can pick any wrapped gift from the pile, or ‘steal’ any gift that has already been opened. {If Guest #1 or #2’s gift is stolen, they can pick another wrapped gift or ‘steal’ any of the other unwrapped gifts, with the exception of the one just stolen from them.}

Continue like this through the numbers until everyone has had a chance, then start with Guest #1 again if they have any more ‘steals’ left. During the second round they can either ‘steal’ another gift, or keep the one they have. If they decided to keep the gift this time around, that particular gift is out of play and no one else can ‘steal’ it. At any time, if your gift is stolen and you have no more ‘steals’ left, you must pick from the pile. The game is over when no one has any ‘steals’ left, or when all the gifts are out of play.

Invariably, there will be one or two random gifts that people decide are the ‘good’ ones, that keep getting stolen, and a few ‘whammie’ gifts that no one wants to steal. A few years ago my roommates and I held a White Elephant gift party where the ‘hot’ gift was a $10 Jack-in-the-Box gift card, and the one no one wanted was a DVD of the Dax Shepard Classic, Let’s all go to Prison. Hilarity ensued.

Cookie Exchange
A holiday classic, there are several ways to go about this:

Martha Stewart
Martha says to bake a dozen cookies for each person in attendance plus a dozen for sampling at the party.
Robin of ‘’ has some pretty strict rules, including ‘No plain chocolate chip cookies, cookie mixes, no-bakes, meringues or bars.’ Sounds serious.

Betty Crocker
Betty has the right idea: A Cookies & Cocktails party with ‘boozy cookies and cookie cocktails’.

Pottery Barn
The entertaining section over at the Barn has everything you’re looking for: Invites, beautiful display photos and an iTunes playlist.

Mix CD Exchange
Got music you think your friends would like? Have everyone make a ‘best-of’ Mix CD with their favorite music of the last year.

Drunken Christmas
Everyone brings their favorite micro-brew, cocktail recipe fixins’, a family ‘Irish Coffee’ tradition or other special alcoholic concoction, and everyone gets to share. Make sure you spell out on the invitation that just any old beer or wine from the grocery store won’t cut it, and enjoy some new drinks that may become a new holiday tradition!

Game Exchange
Are you and your friends a ‘Game Night’ crew? Hold a party where the gifts are also the night’s activities, and go nuts with new games where you get to roll around on the ground or shame your friends lack of verbal prowess.

Craft Swap
Either gift your crafting circle with gifts you made yourself, or crafting essentials you know anyone could use (Great scissors, glitter, baker’s twine, etc.). You could even incorporate a craft activity at the party – perfect for the Etsy lover in all of us!

Happy Gifting and a big HELLO!! to our new Facebook and Twitter friends from across the globe!