How to Host a Gift Exchange Party

Gift exchange parties are a fun way to enjoy one aspect of the holidays (gift giving) without the pressure of buying gifts for everyone at the party. If you want to plan a gift exchange party, there are three popular, but different options. Here are tips for each one, as well as some of the pluses and minuses.

Secret Santa — Everyone draws one name and does NOT REVEAL IT. This is an extremely crucial step. Once everyone has picked, the name they chose is the person they will buy a gift for. It is also good idea to set a price cap to make gift buying easier and fair for everyone participating. On the day of your gift exchange party, have everyone put the gifts into a pile with the designated names on each of the gifts. Then, let each person open their gifts and find out who their secret Santa is!

Things to consider:
- The gift giver knows who they're buying for. This can either be good or bad, depending on the people involved.
- This type of gift exchange requires some coordination in advance of the event to notify guests about the person they need to shop for.

Yankee Swap — With a Yankee Swap, guests bring wrapped, unmarked presents to your party. Again, it's helpful to set a price cap. During the party, each guest chooses a number. When it's time to open the gifts, the person with #1 chooses the first gift from the pile, opens it, and shows everyone else. Then, #2 selects a gift from the pile, opens it, and has the option to either keep it or trade with gift #1. This continues until everyone has opened presents. The person opening the present has the option to either keep the gift they selected OR trade with anyone who has already opened a present. At the end, the person with #1 has the option to choose from any of the gifts. This is what makes the Yankee Swap fun and entertaining. 

Things to consider:
- Anyone can potentially end up with anything so gifts need to be gender neutral and relevant to any guests in attendance.
- Depending on how many people are participating, a Yankee Swap can take longer than a Secret Santa where everyone can open presents at once.

White Elephant — A White Elephant gift exchange is similar to a Yankee Swap in how it works, however the gifts are typically "gag" gifts or items of little to no value to the gift giver. They are often items that the gift giver has around their home that they no longer use or items that they have received as gifts and don't want. On the day of the exchange, have everyone draw a number. Beginning with 1, everyone will choose and open a gift. The person to go will make a choice of whether to open a gift or to "steal" an already opened gift. If they steal a gift, the person with the stolen gift has an option of stealing from someone else, or opening a new gift. This continues until somebody decides to stick with their gift. NOTE: You cannot steal the gift that was just stolen from you. This process repeats until all the gifts have been opened and claimed.

Things to consider:
- The gifts are not typically items that people would actually want or need, however this type of gift exchange is often the funniest.
- Guests don't need to buy items to participate in a White Elephant–they can bring something from home.

Start planning your holiday gift exchange party!

Happy Holidays!

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