Christmas gift exchanges don’t have to be boring! Whether they be at the office or workplace, or amongst a group of friends or family, a gift exchange is a great way to celebrate Christmas without having to buy a gift for everyone in the group.
With a little bit of organisation, a Christmas gift exchange could be the highlight of your next Christmas party or event.
There are quite a few different ways to do a gift exchange, such as Secret Santa, Dirty Santa, White Elephant, or Yankee Swap. Some people use dice games and there’s even games you can buy to help the way your gift exchange plays out.
They’re all pretty similar, the basic premise being everyone brings a present to the party or event and everyone leaves with a different present – the differences lie in how the gifts get distributed amongst the guests and whether there is stealing allowed!
Stealing and gift swapping shenanigans can be fun for all ages, as long as the gifts chosen are suitable for all ages. But today I thought we could explore some fun ways to do a gift exchange specifically for kids.
Maybe it’s for a church or youth group, a school (or other activity) class or maybe just for a group of kids that you know.
How To Organise A Gift Exchange For Kids
There are 2 main options when planning your gift exchange event. You can either allocate a person to each person to buy a gift for (like Secret Santa), or you can just get everyone to bring along a gift that would potentially suit everybody at the party.
If you’re allocating names you’ll really just follow along the guidelines for a traditional game of Secret Santa. There’s no point trying any swapping/stealing or elements of luck in your gift exchange as then it would no doubt turn out that people would receive gifts that were specifically intended for somebody else.
If, instead of allocating names, you’ve just instructed all attendees to bring along a gift that could be suitable for anyone (stick with a price limit too), then you’ve got lots of fun options to make your gift exchange fun, exciting and memorable for everyone.
Depending on the ages of the kids involved you could simply follow the rules/guidelines of Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa. But, if you don’t think your crowd would appreciate/cope with having their presents stolen from them, you might like to use one of these other fun ideas to exchange gifts for kids.
Creative Ways For Kids To Exchange Gifts For Christmas
Pass The Parcel
Just like the classic children’s birthday party game, in this version of a Christmas gift exchange, all of the kids sit in a circle holding either the gift that they brought along or any random gift.
Play some music (Christmas music of course!) and get the kids to pass the parcels around the circle in one direction. When the music stops they all get the gift that landed with them. You could then take it in turns to unwrap each gift or just all unwrap together.
Take it one step further – after the gifts are unwrapped the kids get to decide whether to leave the circle and keep the gift they got or to stay in the circle for another round and potentially get a new gift. This could keep going until everybody has left the circle and is (hopefully) happy with their gift.
Attach a “hook” onto each present – just a loop of sticky tape or a piece of ribbon attached with sticky tape.
Put all of the gifts into a “pond” (just a hoop on the floor or a children’s paddling pool with no water in it).
Use fishing poles from a children’s fishing set or make your own with sticks and hooks.
Give each child a turn to hook a gift from the pond, the one they manage to hook becomes their gift in the gift exchange.
BeanBag or Hoop Toss
Spread the gifts out in a large area. Mark a line on the floor. Children stand behind the line and take it in turns to toss a small beanbag and try and get it to land on a gift. If the bag stays on the gift, they get to keep that gift.
Or, if using a hoop, they have to throw the hoop and try and get it to land around the present that they want.
Put all of the gifts into a large Santa sack ( a pillowcase or similar will do if you don’t have a sack). Each child gets a turn to blindly pull a gift out of the sack.
You could also use a large box to put the gifts in.
Make it extra fun by covering the gifts with shredded paper or foam packing peanuts so the kids have to dig around a bit to find a gift.
Hide each gift somewhere around the room or yard. Just like an Easter egg hunt, the kids just need to search until they find a gift. If they find the gift that they brought along to the exchange, they should leave it in its hiding spot and go looking for another gift.
Make up a quiz – it could be relevant to your group specifically, maybe remembering activities you’ve done throughout the year, or it could just be some Christmas trivia.
Line up all of the gifts at the front of the room so everyone can see them. When a child answers a question correctly they get to choose the gift they want.
Once they’ve answered (and received a gift) they can’t answer again, but they might be allowed to help others in the group – you’ll need to establish your own rules before you begin.
Just like any type of gift exchange, it’s important to spell out the rules early on no matter how you’re playing, so that everybody knows what to expect from the event.
Make sure everybody knows to bring a gift, how much should be spent on the gift ($10-$20 is usually a good limit to set), and whether they are buying for a particular person or not.
Once everybody is at the party make sure they know how the gifts are being exchanged so that nobody gets upset if things don’t go their way. But, most of all, have fun and enjoy your Christmas gift exchange!