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Great Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas

Updated on February 6, 2017

Some Creative Ideas for Gift Exchanges

Christmas is a time of giving and many families choose to draw names, especially as the family grows larger. My family (my parents, and 5 siblings, spouses and children) decided several years ago that each of us would give each sibling family one gift that their entire family would enjoy.

We also decided to have a "theme" each year. Four years ago, we chose "travel" as our theme. I made luggage tags for all of my siblings, and my older brother gave us carry on bags with his company's logo. Three years ago, we chose a Goodwill or Salvation Army theme, looking for the perfect gift for our siblings, nephews and nieces at the local thrift stores. It was great fun that went on all year! Two years ago the theme was health and fitness. I gave my siblings stretch bands, and my younger brother gave us the Pilates inflatable ball.

Another gift exchange idea is to make a donation to a charity, in the name of a family member. Another twist on this idea is for the entire family to donate to the same charity, or to choose a less fortunate family, find out their needs, and all work together to help the family. Buying gifts for the family's children, paying their electric bill, filling their car's gas tank, or buying a turkey dinner for them is a great way for one family to join together to help another family.

A Christmas ornament exchange is common in some families, and a fun way to do this is to do it "white elephant" style. Everyone who brings an ornament (wrapped) gets a number, and number 1 picks a gift and unwraps it. Number 2 can pick another gift, or take Number 1's gift. In this case, number 1 gets to pick a new gift. Number 3 can take a new gift, or take number 2 or 3's gift, and so on. Some ornaments are usually silly, such as the "leg lamp" ornament my sister got, like the lamp in the movie "Christmas Story". This makes the exchange a lot of fun!

Homemade gifts can be a lot of fun and bring out the creative juices. Everyone in the family thinks about what they can make that will be appreciated. It might be a craft, homemade treat along with the recipe, a piece of artwork or photography, a poem, or any number of things.

A real White Elephant exchange is fun when the point is to give something that you already own but don't ever use. One family member gave a little shelf that was old and rustic, but the recipient loved it and thought it was a great treasure!

A magazine subscription, a family game, a favorite App, movie or theater tickets make great ideas for gift exchanges.

Intangible favors can make great gifts for exchanges. Intangible gifts might include: "I'll wash your car once a month for the entire year", or "I will not complain about your...for 6 months". I love intangible gifts because they are more meaningful than buying more "stuff". An uncle might promise to take his nephews fishing once the spring arrives or an aunt might promise to make strawberry shortcake with her nieces and sisters (make sure promises are kept!) I would much prefer that someone pull the weeds in my garden, rather than buy me a new sweater!

The is no limit to the ideas that can be thought of for gift exchanges in large families or for office parties, and they can be a lot of fun!


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    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      That sounds like a great way to do it Gypsy! Just enjoying each other's company and some good hot chocolate is as good as it gets!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Wonderful idea and much more economical. Since my hubby and I are usually by ourselves at Christmas with our cat Sid we don't exchange gifts just enjoy the holiday.

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Shiningirisheyes, White Elephant gift exchanges can be so much fun, especially when everyone knows its "silly" gifts. One year we did White Elephant with other missionaries in Venezuela, but some of us thought it was silly gifts, others thought it was real gifts. One lady received my silly gift which was a very outdated, expired, first aid kit. She was furious!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Back when we celebrated the holidays we did the White Elephant! My brother and I used to come up with some hilarious gag gifts.

      Very useful ideas.

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 5 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Nyamache, the inspirational book is a great idea! Thank you for sharing.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      GH Price 5 years ago from North Florida

      These ideas are fantastic! I live the white elephant thing, and I'll try to remember it for next year. Thank you for sharing and Merry Christmas!

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 5 years ago from Kenya

      Christmas is around the corner and giving gifts to ours siblings, parents and friends is how we express our love for them. An inspiration book or spiritual book is another gift that we can give to those who we love.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great ideas Debbie! We do the white elephant gift exchange in our family, and then Bev and I buy each other one gift. That's it!

      Merry Christmas to you and yours my friend.