Instructions for Gift Exchanges
Secret Santa - Determine who gets whom. Have someone draw everyone's name from a hat, then make the master list. Encourage family members not to discuss whom they have. As people open their gifts, they'll guess who their Secret Santa is. Set a monetary limit on gifts. A suggested amount for companies is $10 to $20; among families it can range from $10 to any amount that's chosen. It’s fun to play Secret Santa over a week period. You can mail or deliver small gifts throughout the week - you just have to get sneaky!
White Elephant (Yankee Gift Exchange) - Set up the party as you would a Secret Santa event. Go through your closets and dig out unloved treasures, retail disasters and plastic monstrosities. Bob the Big-Mouthed Bass singing "Take Me to the River," dancing Santa’s and kung fu rodents are perennial white elephant favorites.
Wrap your elephant beautifully to encourage all those suckers to take your bait. The uglier the gift, the better you need to wrap it. Hand out slips of paper with numbers on them to assign the order in which gifts are chosen. Explain that each person can either choose a wrapped present, or take something another person has already opened. If that happens,that poor soul has to brave the gift pile again.
Enjoy all of the pleasure of giving and receiving with absolutely none of the stress. Unwrap the gift you got stuck with and put it away for next year. You can also play with real, meaningful gifts. Set a monetary limit and encourage the gift to be unisex. See flow chart below.
See a chart on how the "White Elephant Exchange" works Right Here!
Cookie Exchange - Hosting a cookie exchange is a great way to enjoy everyone's favorite holiday cookies as well as go home with a bountiful supply of them. It is also a lovely way to spend time with friends and family - either at home or at work.
Invite about 6 - 10 people to your home or place of work for a cookie exchange and make sure they RSVP. At work, consider a lunch-hour exchange. Ask guests to bake a dozen cookies for each guest attending, plus an extra dozen to taste. Have guests bring their cookies in containers that they can take their cookie assortment home in - plastic freezer containers work well.
Have guests think about choosing a favorite family recipe or one traditional to their background. Ensure there is no duplication to guarantee the best variety. Bring baked cookies that hold their shape well and have no soft icings that would get messy in transit. Make sure each guest brings copies of their recipe to pass around. Have platters ready for the cookies brought for sampling. Bake your cookies a day or two in advance. Make sure that cookies can be frozen so that they can be enjoyed throughout the holiday season. When you get home repack so you don't store soft cookies with crisp ones.
Provide sparkling water, coffee or tea and a supply of small plates and napkins for the tasting.
Gifts Under $10
Pretty glass jar filled with candy
Pancake or waffle mix and a bottle of real maple syrup
Gardening gloves with a plant or flower seeds
Decorative napkins and napkin rings
A few specialty magazines stacked and tied with raffia
Deck of cards and book of card game rules
Stamps and a set of notecards
For more gift ideas, click here.
For more holiday resources, go to Simple Holidays 101, Simple Holidays 103 or The Big O: Holidays.