At this time of year, I like to review Milton and Rose Friedman’s Four Ways to Spend Money. It helps me feel better about converting Category II to Category I spending by giving cash and gift cards in place of more thoughtful gifts. But, not that much better.
I’m always interested in new gift exchange ideas. In the past couple years, my extended family has migrated to a white elephant gift exchange from the traditional gift exchange. Most of us like it better because it’s a more social activity and you get a chance to get something you might like.
Here’s a few variants to the white elephant exchange that I’d suggest:
- To encourage more useful gifts and fewer humorous gifts (or trash that people haven’t had the heart to throw away) in the white elephant exchange, consider adding a rule where the participants who contribute gifts that get stolen the maximum amount of times in the main round get an extra round to steal any gift, even those that were locked in. The extra round would work similar to the first round. Those eligible to steal would draw a new set of numbers to determine order and the 2-steal rule would be in effect again for this round.
- Oprah-inspired: Try changing it from a white elephant exchange to an our favorite things exchange. This is a perfect chance to share something that you love or find really useful and find out who else in your group shares that preference with you. That might also be a good way to build bonds with those folks and give you something to talk about.
There are many variants you could do on the ‘favorite things’ exchange. You could choose a theme it each year. For example, one year might be our favorite tolietries. The next year it could be our favorite snack food. Other possible favorites themes: movie, music, activity, drinks, sport, tool, charity and so forth.
Feel free to post your gift exchange ideas.