Thinking hard about your office gift exchange? You should be. Planning a gift exchange is never simple, but when it’s for a work party, things can get especially tricky.
A gift swap among coworkers is worthwhile for many reasons, but there’s no doubt that it comes with its own special challenges. Here are some office gift exchange ideas that minimize the potential pitfalls while maximizing the fun for everyone involved.
1. Simplified White Elephant
Let’s deal with the white elephant in the room first, shall we? White Elephant is one of the most popular types of gift exchange, but the vanilla version of the rules might not be ideal for an office party. That’s because office parties typically feature larger groups and tighter schedules, making it hard to fit in all those gift-stealing shenanigans.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to speed up a White Elephant gift exchange. The most obvious is to set rules on the amount of stealing per turn. A more extreme option is to have participants swap unopened gifts, which takes some of the fun out of stealing, but saves all that time-consuming unwrapping for the end.
2. Secret Santa
Most people are familiar with Secret Santa, and those who aren’t can learn pretty quickly. Participants simply draw the name of another participant and secretly buy one or more presents for that person. As a grand finale, everyone attempts to guess who their Secret Santa was.
This works especially well for a tight-knit group of coworkers, and might still be appropriate for gatherings where everyone knows each other at least somewhat well. However, in groups that aren’t as close, it might be an awkward fit. Some employees might be turned off by the idea of buying a gift for someone they don’t know (or worse, someone they don’t like!).
If you do go with Secret Santa, keep things simple by having participants buy one gift rather than multiples. If time is an issue, you can have everyone open their gifts at the same time and guess their Secret Santa by writing a name down on a card. Then everyone can mingle and find out if they guessed right.
3. Grab Bag
If you want your office gift exchange to be as simple as possible, you probably can’t do better than a grab bag. Everyone brings a gift. They go in a bag. Everyone picks a gift from the bag. Boom, you’re done.
Of course, using an actual bag could be unwieldy, especially if you have bigger gifts and/or a lot of participants. In this case, you may want to assign a number to each gift as it’s dropped off, then have people draw a number from a hat. Whether people open their gifts one at a time or all at once is up to you (and your schedule).
4. Gift Theme
Frankly, coming up with gift ideas for a coworker can be tough. As the organizer, you can help out by specifying a gift theme, regardless of which method you choose for the actual swapping. There are many gift exchange themes to choose from, but here are a few that would be appropriate for an office party:
- Desk Decor
- Coffee! (mugs, beans, etc.)
- Company Colors
- Office Munchies
Hopefully these work gift exchange ideas have at least given you something to chew on. As a guiding principle, think about keeping things simple and casual for the participants. After all, a holiday party should be less about following the rules and more about having fun.