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Yankee Swap Gift Ideas

Updated on December 2, 2014

Funny, Off-the-Wall and Swapable Gifts in All Price Ranges

A Yankee swap might mean something totally different during the baseball season, but during the Christmas season, it means a party where people maneuver for the best gifts from a large communal pile. Oh, and along with all that maneuvering, there's usually a good deal of laughter as well. It's intended to be a lighthearted, fun game for friends or coworkers to play during the annual holiday party - not a cutthroat competition (though that can be funny, too).

The key to a great Yankee swap is great Yankee swap gifts. When shopping for a present to bring to the party, the challenge is to find something appropriate that falls within the game's specified price range - usually between $10 and $25. Gag gifts are pretty common, but so are mundane and even useful presents (go figure). A mixture of different gift types often results in the best game.

Don't Call it a White Elephant Gift Exchange - Know Your Yankee Swap Rules

Many people use the terms Yankee swap and white elephant gift exchange interchangeably. However, most Yankee swaps have slightly different rules, with less trading during the game (though you're free to swap as much as you want afterward). Here are the basics.

  1. Participants bring wrapped, unmarked presents to the party and put them in a common pile.
  2. Order is determined by drawing numbers from a hat (or whatever method you choose). The first person selects a gift from the pile and opens it.
  3. Each person after the first gets to decide whether to "steal" one of the opened presents or select a wrapped one from the pile. If they choose to steal a present, the person they steal from gets to open a present from the pile.
  4. At the end, the person who went first gets to decide whether to keep his or her present, or trade it for another one.
  5. After the game is officially over, people can choose to continue trading with one another.

Yodeling Pickle
Yodeling Pickle

Cheap Idea: Gag Gift

Good Laughs at an Affordable Price

When the price limit is low, gag gifts reign supreme. Most novelty items cost less than $10 (because frankly, no one wants to pay a lot of money for something that's only good for a few chuckles). Plus, with a lower price range, no one has to feel ripped off if they end up with something stupid.

Speaking of stupid, check out this Yodeling Pickle. It's just the sort of present I'm talking about - weird, funny, and completely useless. With the press of a button, this pickle yodels like a champ. Yeah. What do you expect for $10?

Even if you don't plan to buy this bad boy, you might want to check out the funny customer reviews on its product page (click the image to visit it on Amazon).

Pot Holder
Pot Holder

Know Your Crowd

Some Gifts Aren't For Mixed Company

Needless to say, not all gag gifts are appropriate for all groups - particularly if we're talking about work groups. In most cases, the boss will cut you some slack during a holiday party, when people are supposed to be loose and have fun. Still, this "Pot" Holder - clever as it is - probably isn't the best idea for an office party (especially if your workplace includes drug testing).

On the other hand, in the right group of friends this novelty item could be a perfectly hilarious gift. Obviously use your best judgement - and when in doubt, err on the side of caution.

Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds
Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds

$15 Gift Idea: Food

Fatten up Your Friends for Winter

In the $10-20 price range, you can find lots of cool novelty food. I know some people complain that there's too much food available around the holidays. Don't be one of those people. People love to eat, and Christmastime gives them an excuse to get as much as they want.

If you're going to give a food gift, just make sure it's interesting - like these Chocolate Covered Sunflower Seeds, for instance. Unlike a lot of weird food, these actually taste good and are nutritious. With the candy coating, they're reminiscent of M&Ms, but different enough to make a unique gift. At any gift swap, these are bound to change hands more than once if opened early on.

Santa and Reindeer Butts
Santa and Reindeer Butts

Funny Christmas Ornaments

Ugly, Tacky, and Hilarious Ornaments

Hey, you can get a gag gift that's still in the spirit of Christmas (technically). There are lots of wacky tacky ornaments available like these Santa and Reindeer "Butt" Ornaments. Of course, these ornaments wouldn't be truly tacky if they didn't play a fart sound when you pressed them.

Stay classy, Santa.

Someecards Desk Calendar
Someecards Desk Calendar

$25 Idea: Desk Calendar

All Purpose and Not All That Crappy

Nothing says "I'm buying Christmas presents in bulk" like a crappy calendar. However, even if they're not the most thoughtful gift for, say, your spouse, they're excellent as anonymous gifts where you don't know who the recipient will be. This is especially true if you've got a mixed group of people - there's bound to be someone who wants it.

Besides, calendars aren't as lame as they used to be. Sure, you can still pick them up with cute kitten pictures and similarly cheesy themes. But there are also funny and sought after ones like this 2013 Someecards Desk Calendar, which figures to be a real hot seller (click the image to check it out on Amazon). If you're looking for something cheaper, you could always opt for the wall version.

George Washington Chia Pet
George Washington Chia Pet


Chia Pets Make Awesomely Strange Gifts

Have you checked out Chia Pets lately? They don't just come in the usual animal forms advertised in those corny commercials from the 80s. Now you can get Chia Pets featuring Spongebob Squarepants, Homer Simpson, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and more.

If you didn't even know they made Chia Pets anymore, you're not alone. Most other people probably don't realize it either, which is why one of these weird modern Chias is sure to get a funny reaction at a gift exchange.

What's the weirdest gift you've ever gotten?

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      MintySea 5 years ago

      I have done the white elephant but not this

    • MostInteresting profile image

      MostInteresting 5 years ago

      @gottaloveit2: Thanks, gottaloveit! The pickle is pretty hilarious.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      I LOVE the pickle! I have one on my Chanukah bush - cracks me up. Love your ideas for Yankee swaps.