Plan a Christmas Gift Exchange

Whether for laughs or heartfelt, gift exchanges are a nice party of the holidays. If you are looking to do something creative, here are suggestions. Don't hesitate to put your own spin on things, too.

Gift Exchange Invitations
Start your party off on the right foot by sending a fun personalized Christmas party invitation. On your invitation you want to let your guests know what your theme is for your gift exchange. You can go a traditional route by doing an anonymous swap or picking names out of a hat. You can always do the Secret Santa thing where a group of people each draw names of others in the group and must purchase something for that person in secret (set a spending limit either way) .

White Elephant Gift Exchange
A White Elephant gift exchange is where everyone brings something tacky from their attics or basements. (I once received a deer hoof lamp that was very festively decorated!). This exchange is played in many ways, one is while the gifts are still wrapped, have your guests pick a present.  Once everyone has one gift, have everyone open their presents.  After this, grab a pair of dice and have your guests roll them.  Anyone who gets doubles gets to keep their gift or swap a gift with whoever they choose.  You can choose to go around the circle one, twice or three times; or only allow two swaps (or keeps) before that person is out of the game and you continue until everyone is finished. You can even hold a contest for the "weirdest", "ugliest", and "most creative use of glitter/rubber bands/dry pasta".

Charitable Gift Exchange
Throwing a charitable gift exchange starts by having people in your group write down the name of their favorite charities. Then draw names and have a donation made to that charity in the name of the honoree. A nice way to make a difference this holiday season.

Right-Left Present Swap
A great gift exchange idea is to have each person buy a small gift/gag gift that can go to a man or a woman and play the Right-Left Present Swap. For this game everyone needs to buy and wrap a present. Everyone sits in a circle with a present in his or her hands. One person reads a story. Every time the storyteller says, "left", you pass the present to the left. Each time the storyteller says, "right", you pass your present to the right. At the end of the story, the present you have in your hands is the one you keep. Here is an example of a story:
Mr. WRIGHT was to take Mrs. WRIGHT RIGHT to the store to do some of her holiday shopping. As he LEFT in the car, he turned RIGHT out of the driveway. He had to go RIGHT back as he LEFT without Mrs. WRIGHT. They both got in the car on the LEFT side as the RIGHT side door would not open. Mr. and Mrs. WRIGHT again LEFT for the store, turning RIGHT out of the driveway. An argument occurred about the RIGHT turn as Mrs. WRIGHT said that Mr. WRIGHT should have turned LEFT. Mr. WRIGHT kept insisting that he was RIGHT, but Mrs. WRIGHT kept insisting that the nicer department store was on the LEFT. Two blocks away after another LEFT turn they discovered they had LEFT the credit cards at home. So, they made a LEFT turn, then a RIGHT to go back home to where they had LEFT the credit cards. As they turned RIGHT on to their street and LEFT into the driveway, Mrs. WRIGHT said "Let's just stay RIGHT here and shop for the RIGHT gifts over the internet". They went LEFT into the kitchen to make the RIGHT cup of eggnog. Then they went RIGHT into the living room where Mrs. WRIGHT turned to her LEFT and said to Mr. WRIGHT, "I hope they have some good stuff LEFT."
You can make your own creative invitation by folding up your paper invitations and putting them in small boxes. Add some cotton and paper shreadz in with it. Wrap the boxes up like Christmas presents and mail them in bubble envelopes. What better way to invite everyone to a gift exchange than with a gift?

Holiday Gift Exchange Decorations and Party Supplies
If you are anything like me, you probably have boxes of Christmas decorations that you pull out every year to do up the house. This may be all the decoration you need. If you are having the gift exchange at the office, or you want some new and unique ways to make your party area stand out, putting up a few fun and whimsical decorations will really take your gift exchange over the top!

Hang a personalized holiday banner on the house so everyone knows where the party is!

The fun starts at the front door with life-sized cutouts of the hosts as Santa and an elf! Set up a table near the cutouts for your guests to place their gifts on. You can even include a speech bubble on the life-sized elf cutout that lets the guests know to drop the gifts off there. If you don't have room to set up a table, place Santa's bag on the ground, and everyone can fill it with the presents as they come in!

You certainly want to set the scene so think about hanging up a cozy Christmas room setter. This works really well if you are having your exchange in a room with lots of blank walls, like a conference room or a basement party room. My favorite decoration this year are these Christmas tree whirls; they are so fun and colorful, and they will look great hanging from the ceiling! You can even mix them with Christmas snowflake danglers if you have the room.

You can't go wrong with Christmas tree balloons, they are perfect if you need to decorate a large area, and small bunches of them can even dress up a smaller space. Consider balloon bouquets if you want to decorate your entrance, buffet, or gift table. It's easy-peasy and makes a huge impact for a low cost.

Another fun touch is a holiday lit mantle icicle, which is a unique and fun way to dress up the mantle. Music plays a big part in setting the mood so have Christmas music in the background throughout the party.

Holiday Gift Exchange Table Decorations
Your guests will be hungry from all the giving and receiving, so make sure to serve some scrumptious food. You can go with a full meal of comfort foods, tasty appetizers, or even just an array of scrumptious desserts, but make sure you mention it on your invitation so guests know what to expect.

Make sure that as your guests prepare to eat, that your tables look as inviting as your food. Since a gift exchange is a casual and light hearted affair, fun christmas paper goods are perfect. And not having to do dishes after the party is a nice gift to yourself!

You can make silverware bundles (great if you are having a buffet) by wrapping silverware in napkins and then tying them off with red beads. Speaking of buffets, if you are having one make sure to decorate that as well. A holiday tablecloth and a balloon bouquet or two will do the trick!

Use more of the Christmas tree balloons as centerpieces, or go with these cute candy cane spray centerpieces. You could even combine them by tying the balloon bouquets to the centerpieces!

Gift Exchange Party Favors
Although guests will be leaving with their presents from the exchange, you should also send them home with a small favor to say thanks for coming. Party411.com can print your special holiday message on a Christmas candy wrapper, which is a sweet way to end the party. Leave them in a basket on the gift table, so people can grab them on the way out. You can even set out small single serving sized bottles of milk or bottled water to go with the chocolate (how thoughtful you are!) and even they can have personalized bottle labels to match the chocolate.

Personalized mint tins are another unique party favor. We have lots of Christmas and winter styles, and you can personalize it with your own wording and candy choice!

With Party411.com, your gift exchange party will be a memorable event for you and your guests. Happy Holidays!