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Host a Christmas Ornament Exchange

By Edited May 31, 2014 4 9

Make Homemade Christmas Ornaments

or Exchange Stocking Stuffers

During the Christmas holidays, many of my friends have holiday parties that include White Elephant gift exchanges.  While these gift exchanges can be a bit silly, sometimes bawdy, and usually a lot of fun, I never know what to do with most of the weird gifts I have received over the years ... giant size underwear, pink flamingo yard decorations, glasses engraved with someone initials that are not my own, singing stuffed animals and similar gag gifts.  Frequently, I just save them and re-gift them at a different White Elephant exchange the next year.

Christmas Ornaments

However, on a few occasions, my friends have hosted parties that were equally fun, but I went home with gifts I have cherished for years.  When this has happened, it is because the group decided that, instead of gag gifts, we would bring pretty Christmas ornaments to share, instead.  Every year, as I put these lovely decorations on my tree, they bring back many fond memories of those parties, and the people who gave me each ornament. 

Quick link to hundreds of collectible Christmas ornaments on Amazon.

What are some ideas for a Christmas ornament gift exchange?

Have a Theme for the Ornament Exchange

What type of Christmas ornaments would your group of friends like to exchange?  Do they want handmade Christmas decorations, traditional ones, paper Christmas designs, or even cute little decorative stocking stuffers?  What about a theme, such as snowflake, snowmen, or angel ornaments?  You could also have supplies on hand so everyone could make a homemade holiday decoration that they could keep or exchange.  For example, you could provide a package of plain ornaments, and some holiday decals or paint pens that could be used to decorate them.

Ornament With Snowman

You may want to even combine a variety of ideas.  I have been to holiday parties where everyone brought an ornament to exchange, but the hostess also sent each guest home with a decorations she had designed for each of them.  One year a hostess gave everyone a bright red ornament with the guests' names painted on them with white paint.  I've also been to parties where the hostess gave each guest a tiny angel for their mantel, or other little friendship gifts and stocking stuffers.  Sometimes the guests also bring similar little gifts for the hostess, as well.

Set a Price Limit for the Christmas Ornaments

If you do decide to exchange store bought holiday decoraitons, be sure to set a price limit.  Holiday ornaments can become very expensive if people choose those that are made from crystal or precious metals.  High end jewelers sells one made of sterling silver, Tiffany's carries an exquisite line of crystal and silver designs, and Waterford Crystal can make your tree sparkle.  However, these designer decorations often cost $50 - $150, or more.  If you do not have a price limit, and some people bring extravagant ornaments, some of your guests will be discouraged from ever wanting to participate in future Christmas ornament exchanges.

One way to make your party especially affordable is to ask guests to recycle an ornament that they already have at home.  Many people already own more holiday decorations than they can possibly use, so they appreciate giving one away in exchange for receiving a different one.  If you do decide on store bought ornaments, be sure to let everyone know that many attractive designs can be purchased from Hallmark Shops, Target Stores, Wal-Mart, Macy's, and Amazon.com at very reasonable prices.

Quick link to hundreds of collectible Christmas ornaments on Amazon.

Play a Gift Exchange Game with the Ornaments

Many groups have discovered that a fun way to share ornaments is to turn the exchange into a game, much like the game that is frequently played at White Elephant Parties. Here is how it works:

Cut up small pieces of paper with numbers on them that equal the number of guests.

Have everyone draw a number.

The person who draws #1 picks a wrapped ornament from under the tree and unwraps it.

The person who draws #2 can either pick another wrapped ornament and unwrap it, OR they can "steal" the ornament that #1 received.

If #1 has their gift "stolen," they get to select and unwrap another ornament from under the tree.

As additional people take their turns, each of them can choose to either unwrap a new gift, or steal one that has already been opened.

There is one restriction on stealing:  Each ornament can only be stolen twice.  Therefore, the person who is the third "owner" of a particular ornament gets to keep it.

Everyone will have a lot of fun unwrapping ornaments, or stealing them, and all your guests will go home with a lovely new ornament, and lots of happy memories of light-hearted laughter with their friends.

Christmas Candles

Other Ways to Exchange the Ornaments

If you have other entertainment or activities planned for the evening, and do not want to take a lot of time to complete a White Elephant style gift exchange, another option is to just draw names or numbers.  There are two options for doing this:

If this is a group that gets together regularly, such as a book club, investment club or women's league, everyone may want to draw names the month before so they know exactly who will be receiving their ornament.  That way, they can personalize their selection a little.

Another gift exchange idea is for the hostess to stick a number on each wrapped ornament as it is placed under the tree.  Then, later in the evening, the guests can pick a number out of a pretty bowl, and go home with the wrapped ornament that had the corresponding number.  Everyone will have a happy surprise when they open their gifts, but very little time will be spent on the gift exchange during the party.

However you decide to handle your Christmas ornament exchange, it can easily become a delightful holiday tradition that your friends will look forward to for years to come.  In addition, as they look at some of the ornaments they have been given over the years, it will bring back sweet holiday memories.

If you are looking for other holiday ideas, here are some additional articles that may interest you:

Christmas Toy Storage Ideas

Christmas Ornament Storage Ideas

Scrapbooking with Personal Holiday Photo Cards

Jigsaw Puzzles: Cheap Family Fun

Fun Games for Kids: Cheap

Last Minute Gifts: Cheap but Thoughtful

Avoid Holiday Alcohol Abuse

Photo Ornaments are Easy to Personalize

Hallmark 2012 Keepsake Ornaments QXG4604 Baby's First Christmas Photo Frame
Amazon Price: $25.95 $0.01 Buy Now
(price as of May 31, 2014)

Give Someone an Ornament that Looks Like Their Pet

Paint on a Name and Turn These into Personal Ornaments

Snowman Or Santa Christmas Ornament
Amazon Price: $3.39 Buy Now
(price as of May 31, 2014)


Aug 5, 2011 1:15pm
I absolutely love the ornament party idea. I'm going to plan one this year!
Aug 5, 2011 6:14pm
What a great idea!
Aug 9, 2011 5:21am
I agree this is a novel idea! It's creative and economical, too!
Aug 9, 2011 1:58pm
Great idea - this way folks get unique, fun ornaments to remember the party for years!
Aug 9, 2011 9:01pm
This sounds like a really fun idea. Maybe some of my friends and family might be interested in participating in something like this. The white elephant gift exchange does get a little old after a while.
Aug 11, 2011 9:13am
This is a fabulous idea.
Aug 12, 2011 3:16pm
What a wonderful idea! And much fewer calories than a cookie exchange!
Aug 20, 2011 12:14pm
A very lovely article and a great idea involving minimum expense for those taking part.
Aug 23, 2011 9:07pm
Nice exchange ideas, thanks. I have played the gift exchange game before and it is great fun.
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