Holiday party planners are always trying to jazz up their gift exchanges with new rules and creative themes. However, there’s only one type of gift swap to consider if you really want to knock everyone’s socks off. I’m talking, of course, about the fun and fashionable Christmas sock exchange.
The idea behind a sock exchange is simple: Each person brings a new pair of socks filled with goodies, and receives a pair from someone else. Exactly how the socks are exchanged is flexible. Participants can simply pull a pair of socks out of a grab bag, but more commonly, a sock exchange works as a slight variation of White Elephant.
Christmas Sock Exchange Rules
Here are some standard rules for a White Elephant-style sock exchange. As always, feel free to modify these guidelines for your own holiday get-together.
1. Each person brings a new pair of socks containing one or more small gifts. The maximum cost of the sock/gift combos should be set and communicated in advance.
2. The socks all go into a centrally located pile.
3. Draw names or have people draw numbers to determine order. Tip: Name drawing is often better for small groups, as it creates more drama about who gets the advantage of going last.
4. Each person chooses a sock from the pile and shows everyone the contents*, or steals a previously chosen sock from someone else. If someone has their sock stolen, they may select a new pair of socks from the pile. For more details on swapping mechanics, see the White Elephant rules page.
* Alternatively, you may want to have everyone open their socks at the very end. This ensures that the socks and their contents don’t get separated, which would make swapping messy.
5. When everyone has had a turn and all the socks have been picked, the game is over and people get to keep the socks they have.
Although perhaps not a rule, people should be encouraged to change into their new socks for the remainder of the party. That’s assuming, of course, that the gift exchange is being held in someone’s home or another sock-friendly environment.
Sock Exchange Gift Ideas
The unique thing about a sock exchange is that each gift has at least two components: the socks themselves, and the presents inside. One idea is to pair cute socks with a funny gag gift inside. Of course, you can also do the reverse, putting useful little items inside tacky socks.
Picking out the socks is usually fun, but finding stocking stuffers to put inside can be a challenge. Not only do you have limited space, but you may not have a lot of money to work with depending on the price limit. Here are a few ideas:
- Gift card to a coffee shop
- Candy or other goodies
- Lotions, soap, etc.
- Socks (socks inside socks – how’s that for a twist?)
Some items on this list of White Elephant gift ideas might also do the trick. As with any gift swap, the best gifts are often the ones that are cute, festive, funny, and/or unusual. If you can find something that fits that description and fits inside a sock, you’re in luck.