I don’t know about you guys but I’m a little bored of the same gift-giving routine year after year. Sitting in a circle handing out gifts to family members or friends is fine, just not as exciting now that everyone is older and out of the “Santa” phase. So, I decided to ask around the Campus Classics office and see if anyone had any fun gift-giving traditions that they were willing to share. Some of these I’m sure you’ve heard before, but some might spark a new tradition for you and your family! Take a look at what I’ve found:
This one is a classic but if you’re not already doing it, it can add a fun flair to your gift exchanges! Basically what happens is you get a group of people together, throw all their names in a hat, and then everybody blindly pulls a name from the hat. Once you pull a name, that is who you will be buying a gift for. The most important part: don’t tell anybody who you’re buying for! All of the fun comes from seeing them open their gift and knowing you were their Secret Santa (and rocked it!)
Establishing some ground rules is necessary to ensure a successful Secret Santa. The most important rule is to set a price limit. This typically ranges anywhere from $10 to $30 but make sure you’re being mindful of everyone participating when you set the price cap. And be sure to stick to that price limit, going way over can make the other gift-givers uncomfortable. *Cue that scene from The Office (season 2, episode 16) when Michael gives Ryan a $400 iPod for the gift exchange when they had a $20 limit*. Don’t be that guy, it’s not worth it.
Rule number 2: Put some effort into the gifts. Everybody has the same price limit so nobody is expecting the perfect gift, but you can still make it fun! Dig into a hobby they have and find a fun, quirky gift. If you don’t know a whole lot about your person, discreetly ask around. When in doubt, the safest bet is getting them something for their home. Blankets, a fun mug, and especially ornaments are great gifts if you’re uncertain about what to gift someone.
The final rule is to receive your gift graciously. You know how much time and effort you spent trying to find that best $15 gift for your person, so just keep that in mind when you receive your gift. Keep the evening light and fun for everyone!
This is another one you may have heard before but it’s way too fun not to mention. For a White Elephant, you aren’t shopping for a particular person like in Secret Santa. Instead, all the participants bring a wrapped, unmarked gift to the exchange. Numbers are drawn and whoever goes first picks a present at random and opens it. After that, the participants can either steal someone else’s gift or choose a new gift to unwrap on their turn. The fun here is in the gamble! Do you go for the socks that your buddy Steve already opened or do you go for the huge gift sitting on the table that may or may not be great? Like any good game, rules are required to keep it festive and fun. Here are the rules I’ve always played by:
- Establish a price cap. Again, it’s just better when everyone is on the same page.
- If someone steals your gift, you can choose to either open a wrapped one or steal someone else’s gift.
- A particular gift can only be stolen one time per turn (i.e. if someone takes your gift, you can’t take that gift back in the same turn. BUT you can take it back on a different turn.)
- Once a gift has had 3 owners, the gift can no longer be stolen anymore and stays with its third owner for the rest of the game.
- The game ends when the last wrapped gift has been opened.
The fun part about White Elephant is the range of gifts available. You can either get a “gag” gift like a can of Spam or a really great gift that everyone will love like a new ball cap. If you want to take White Elephant to another level, establish a theme. Maybe this exchange is with your fraternity brothers so everything you gift has to be Sigma-Chi-themed or maybe everything has to be culinary-themed or movie-themed, it’s completely up to you. You never know what you’re going to end up with in a game of White Elephant!
Now this is one I had never heard of before but I absolutely love the idea! It’s called a Chimney Drop because little gifts will randomly show up at your fireplace any time between November 1st and December 24th!
The way this works is: anytime you’re with your friends and family within that time frame, you have the ability to gift them (or be gifted with) Christmas gifts. Say for example, you’re sitting at the Thanksgiving table with your family and your mom says something like, “Do you hear that? I think it’s Santa on the roof, I wonder if he dropped anything off.” And then you all rush to the fireplace to see that he did in fact drop something off! Imagine everyone’s excitement when, out of the blue, they get a surprise gift. Little moments like this can happen for almost two months straight so you never know when someone (*ahem* Santa) will feel inclined to drop off a gift a little early. This fun game can also be incorporated into other Christmas traditions like Elf On The Shelf because maybe Santa needs some help delivering his presents early - who knows!
I know on the surface it may sound a little childish but I can definitely see college roommates or family members with college kids having a lot of fun with this one because everyone loves a surprise gift!
I hope these ideas help to spice up your gift-giving routine this year and make some great memories!