My Sibling Secret Santa Exchange

My brothers and I started a gift exchange with each other as we became adults, started getting married and having kids.  It started off as a way to buy fewer gifts and ease the holiday insanity with their being 8 of us (my brothers, their spouses, our cousin and her husband, and my husband and me) it was a great way to only buy one gift and still have everyone feel included. But, over the years, it became a great time to spend quality time with each other.

 Our gift is typically a simple “Secret Santa” model.  Everyone draws one name out of a bag on Thanksgiving and we buy one gift for that person.    Then, on a selected evening between Christmas and New Years, we all get together for dinner.  Some years it is held at a favorite restaurant and other years just a not-so-quiet dinner at one of our houses.  And the number one rule, no kids.  It is a time to enjoy each others company without distractions.  It is a time for us to act like kids again, not our daily lawyer, computer programmer, and chemist personas.

 The rules have varied over the years.  The price limit on gifts is always decided well in advance. There was one year in particular when 4 of us had been unemployed.  So, the gift giving limit was much lower.  That was one of my favorite Secret Santa years.  We had to be a little more, um, creative, with our choice of gifts.  We have also tried to include a “gag gift” in some years. This was also a very successful.

 Another favorite for a large group of people who are not so intimately associated is a “white elephant” gift exchange.  Some may know this as a “Yankee swap”.    I have seen white elephant gift exchange at company holiday parties and at a friend’s “tacky christmas sweater” party.  There are a few variations on this idea.

 Variation 1:

 Each guest brings one wrap gift within a specific price range.

One guest goes first and selects a gift, unwraps it.

The next guest can either steal the unwrapped gift or select a new wrapped present from the pile.

If another guest steals your gift, you get to repeat your turn and choose to steal another unwrapped gift or a wrapped one from the pile.

 Variation 2:

 This scenario is exactly the same but a gift can only be stolen no more than 3 times.  

 Variation 3:

 All gifts remain wrapped until the end.