11 Ways To Give Gifts Other Than The Standard
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11 Ways To Give Gifts Other Than The Standard 'Under-The-Tree' Deal

You've heard of Secret Santa, now get ready for…


We've all been there. We have a group of friends or a classroom, or a work event, where there are too many people to warrant getting every single person a gift (or you're just broke college students like me, and only can't AFFORD to get everyone you know a gift, however nice that would be).

Now you all could just each pair up with a buddy and get something for that predesignated person, but where's the fun in that? The holidays are a time for fun and festive activities, so your gift exchange shouldn't be any different. Whether you've got your own Christmas party coming up or looking to change the holidays up around the workplace, here are some fun exchanges you should consider.

1. The classic Secret Santa

Maybe it's not as creative, but this game deserves the mention. We all know the drill — everyone puts their names on a piece of paper, puts it in a hat, and the group precedes to each pull out a piece of paper with somebody's name on it (if it's their name, back into the bucket it goes!). Nobody says who they got until the final gift exchange happens. It's a tried but true method.

2. White Elephant

Also known as the Chinese Gift Exchange, or Dirty Santa, or Yankee Swap, or Thieves Christmas, this exchange begins when every person in attendance brings a wrapped present and places it under the tree (or wherever space may be). People are set in a designated order, and the first person unwraps whatever gift they wish from the pile.

Then the next person can either do the same or steal the unwrapped present. The game continues in this way until all gifts are unwrapped. More often than not, limits are put on how many times a gift can be stolen, depending on the size of the group.

Want to spice up White Elephant even more? Try this nifty version that incorporates Rock, Paper, Scissors with a twist!

3. Switch, steal and unwrap dice game

This game begins like White Elephant from above, but instead, once all gifts have been placed on the table, everyone grabs one (or two, or three) at random. Then the first person rolls a die (or two, or three, depending on how many presents they have in front of them), and the number that appears face up tells the participant what to do with the presents (either unwrap, switch gifts with someone on either side, or steal from another). For the list of what each number corresponds to, look here.

4. Hot Potato

Not much different from the popular children's game, this exchange has the group in a circle, where a present is handed out and passed as fast as possible between all members (preferably to the timed stylings of Christmas music). When the music stops, whoever is holding the gift gets to unwrap it, and is then out of the circle for the next round/present.

5. Easter egg hunt! But ya know, with presents

So the Bunny may be one for hiding eggs, but not this time of the year. This holiday season, have everyone bring their present early, then hide them in various spots around the house/office/classroom for some mysterious Christmas cheer. Once everyone finds a present, they go back to the starting point and unwrap them together. Afterward, trading can occur, but that depends on the group.

6. The numbers game

This one is pretty fun, especially with a larger group that's just getting to know one another. Each person brings a gift, and when they come in, the party host marks a number on the present, then signals the same number on a piece of paper. On that piece of paper, the guest writes an unusual fact about themselves, then puts it back in the hat. Once everyone has arrived, the host pulls a piece of paper out of the hat and proceeds to read the fact, but not the number. The first person to guess whose gift it is (basically, who the person is behind the unusual fact) gets to keep that present and is out for the rest of the game. Play continues until all players have received a beautiful new gift.

7. 12 days of Gift-mas

This one does come with a rather lengthy list of instructions but is relatively simple once you get the hang of it. This carol-inspired exchange uses "12 Days of Christmas" themed instructions to get everyone exchanging and unwrapping presents left and right. With nifty exchange activities such as "Three hens went to France for a week. Trade your gift with someone who another language does speak," (See, they even rhyme!) this game is sure to satisfy children and adults alike. For full instructions, free printable playing cards, click here.

8. Spin the candy cane

So we have all heard of Spin the Bottle, but have you heard of this festive (and kid-friendly) twist? In this version of the classic party game, players sit in a circle around a giant candy cane, hopefully to the tune of wonderful Christmas music. The candy cane is spun in the middle, and whoever it lands on gets to pick the gift they want from the pile. If someone turns and it lands on another person who already has a there are, the person who spun can either steal that gift from that person or take another from the pile. Play continues until everyone has a gift, and can even go on for longer if you want to keep spinning to see who will steal from who.

9. Oven mitts?

My friend explained to me that her family has considered this tradition in the past: Basically, a person puts on oven mitts and attempts to open a present that way within a specific time frame (1 min, 2 min, 30 sec, doesn't matter) and if they can't successfully unwrap the present, it's the next person's chance to try and unwrap it using oven mitts. Whoever down the line successfully unwraps it, gets to keep the present and is now out of the lineup for the next round/present. It may sound strange, but it also sounds HILARIOUS.

10. Gag gifts

Worrying about the perfect gift around Christmas time can be very stressful, so why not push that stress to the side and do gag gifts instead? In this popular gift exchange, participants usually place a price limit, like $5-$10, on the gifts and everyone has to buy the strangest or stupidest gift they can find under that limit, either for a predesignated person or a name drawn from the hat, Secret Santa style. Or for everyone in the group, depending on how many people there are. When it comes time for gift-giving, hilarity ensues! My friend's family does this every Christmas Eve before the serious presents the next morning, and she says it's one of her favorite family traditions. She also has a tip for future players: Always check out the Walmart clearance section, it'll never steer you wrong.

11. Set crazy restrictions or limits

This one is rather simple but has room for LOTS of creativity. It can be combined with any of the above games or used to spice up a regular gift exchange. It involves the group putting whatever crazy element or dollar limit they want on the gifts to be purchased. This makes for a fun time when buying the present, and when receiving it! Some of my favorite ones I've done or my there are so far included only being allowed to purchase gifts from a truck stop, buying the weirdest thing you can find for a dollar, and more.

I hope these suggestions help mix up your next Christmas gathering! Let me know if there are any more traditions your family has, and I may make a second list. Happy Holidays everybody, and may this be your best holiday season yet!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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