Should you come up with a theme for your Christmas gift exchange? If the very idea makes you go “bah humbug,” that’s perfectly understandable. After all, it’s one more detail to tend to in your long list of to-do’s.
Still, it’s worth considering for a couple of reasons. One, a gift exchange theme adds a unique twist that can make your event more exciting and memorable. And two, having a theme is often more convenient for the participants, because they have some guidelines on what to shop for.
So, what theme should you pick? Here are some ideas that could work for a White Elephant, Secret Santa, or just about any other type of gift exchange. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive list of Christmas gift exchange themes, but it covers enough ground to (hopefully) nudge you toward the right choice for your group.
1. Hand-Me-Downs. The rule is simple: Bring something you received as a gift in the past. This one’s a classic, because it doesn’t cost participants anything and it’s often hilarious.
2. Homemade Gifts Only. Another low-cost option. For ideas on how this might work, check out this article.
3. Keep It Local. Participants bring an item or gift card from a local business. This works particularly well for office holiday parties.
4. Raise Your Glass. Everyone brings a wine glass, tumbler, coffee mug, or other type of drinkware. This might seem limiting until you take a look at the number of funny coffee mugs available online.
5. Recipe Kits. Each person puts together a package containing a recipe and all the ingredients needed to make it. This one gives people something to talk about even after the exchange (“how did the butterscotch blondies turn out?”).
6. Ornaments. This idea is not only Christmasy, but also highly entertaining given all the funny and/or tacky ornaments to choose from. You could also swap snow globes, or any other type of Christmas decoration.
7. Dollar Store. All gifts must come from the dollar store. If you’re concerned about the awkward question of price range, this one is a great choice.
8. For the Kitchen. Examples of appropriate gifts include food, cookbooks, cookware, gadgets, refrigerator magnets, and anything else associated with the kitchen. You could also focus your theme on a different part of the home, but the kitchen seems to offer the most options for gift-buyers.
9. Scrapbooking. This is just one example of a gift exchange you can do when the group is brought together by a particular hobby or interest.
10. Junk Food. Imagine a gift exchange where people are swapping things like Cheetos and King-Size Snickers. Of course, you could do this with any type of food, but junk food is an example of something that’s cheap and widely enjoyed.
11. Alcohol. Insert the usual disclaimer about this not being a good choice for all groups. In the right group – all adults, all drinkers – a swap of alcoholic gifts can be a lot of fun. You could also narrow it down to wine, bourbon, or whatever type of alcohol seems appropriate.
12. This Gift Exchange is Going to the Dogs. This is a fun idea for groups where everyone owns a dog. Gifts could be treats, toys, bowls – any type of dog product. And the best part is, the dogs are invited to the party!
13. The 80s. Gifts have to have some connection to the 80s (insert a different decade if it suits your group better).
14. What’s That Smell? There are plenty of gift options here, including scented candles, lotions, and food. And that’s not even mentioning the potential gag gifts.
15. Board Games. Most people enjoy board games, and there are plenty of them to choose from. Be sure to budget enough time to play some of them after the gifts have been opened.
Again, having a theme for your gift swap is by no means necessary. If you’re just looking for a way to spice up your gift exchange, there are plenty of other options. That said, choosing a theme – whether it’s one of the above or your own brilliant idea – is one of the best ways to go.