November 27, 2019 3 min read

The holiday season and gifts go hand-in-hand, but sometimes your shopping list can get a little long. Gift exchanges are a great way to take part in gift-giving while keeping the number of gifts you need to purchase to a reasonable number. 

The first step is to decide who you are inviting to participate, pick a date and set a price limit (a lot of people aim for $20, to keep it affordable). Next, it’s time to decide on the type of gift exchange you’d like to host!


Two friends exchanging an all natural, made in Canada Rocky Mountain Soap Company gift as part of their holiday gift exchange.

White Elephant

A white elephant gift exchange is a chance to show off your top-notch gift wrapping skills. The wrapped gifts are put in a pile, anonymously, so you don't know who brought what. Everyone draws a number and #1 picks a gift from the pile and unwraps it. Now, whoever is #2 can either steal an unwrapped gift from someone else, or choose a wrapped gift from the pile to open. The game continues with mad swapping and stealing of gifts.

You can personalise the experience by making a theme for your white elephant gift exchange or by adding a rule, like that the gift has to be something silly. 

Draw Names

Drawing names for gifts with your family or a friend group is a great way to stick to your holiday budget. It also means that everyone is more likely to get one substantial gift rather than lots of little ones. Drawing names is simple. Throw everyone’s name in a hat then pick, one by one. You can choose to keep names secret, but sometimes it helps to share who has who so you can find out what’s on their wish-list.

All-natural, made in Canada gift sets from Rocky Mountain Soap Company placed on a table as part of a holiday gift exchange like Secret Santa, White Elephant, or Draw Names.

Secret Santa

Similar to drawing names, a Secret Santa is a great idea for large groups. Once again set a price limit. Then everyone puts their name in a hat and everyone picks a name. Now unlike drawing names, a Secret Santa is...well...secret. If you have lots of people that might not know one another well, have them add two or three of their interests to the piece of paper with their name so everyone has a place to start. 

Themed Gifts

No matter the type of gift exchange you choose, a theme is a nice way to make it extra fun. If you are hosting with a bunch of friends that love to DIY, make that a theme. Does everyone love to cook? Kitchen gadgets are a great gift. A theme is just another way to put a fresh spin on gift exchange.

Give The Gift Of An Experience

Marie Kondo has inspired so many of us to live a simpler life. So in the spirit of less, host a potluck or pick an activity to do together. Maybe it’s a spa day, or a paint night or group dinner at a fancy restaurant you’ve all been dying to try. You can still gather with friends but instead of going home with something you might not need, all you’ll take is new memories.

Need help organizing your gift exchange? There are lots of apps and websites to help.

  • Draw Names saves group information, so you can draw from the same group of people again and again. There is also an option to input your wish list and view the wish list of the person you've selected.
  • Giftster is an easy-to-use site (it also has an iOS and Android app) that helps you create a wish list of gifts from any store on the internet.
  • Perfect Potluck allows everyone to sign up for a dish so you don’t end up with all desserts (not that that’s a bad thing)

Happy gift-giving everyone! We hope you get just what you wished for.

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