11 Holiday Gift Exchange Theme Ideas for Festive Fun

Article by BlissLights LLCFri, Nov 18, 22
woman holding gift

It’s that time of year again – snow is falling, friends are gathering, and everyone is gearing up for their annual holiday gift exchange. Whether you’re organizing a holiday party for your office, friends, or family, the end goal is the same – enjoy yourself. You can make this year's party unforgettable and merry with the below gift exchange theme ideas.

How many people can play gift exchange games?

To play a gift exchange game, you’ll want at least four people participating, but most holiday gift games work best with six or more players. Really, though, there’s no limit on how many people can get involved.

12 holiday gift exchange theme ideas

A themed gift exchange can put a unique twist on a classic game for an evening of pure entertainment. Let your guests know the theme prior to the party, and encourage them to buy a gift that follows the theme. Check out these gift swap theme ideas to fill your surroundings with holiday cheer.

1. Season

With a summer gift exchange theme, your guests can mentally transport themselves to a seaside paradise – all while snow falls outside their windows. Decorate your party space with palm trees and inflatable pool floats, and tell guests to bring gifts perfect for a day on the warm sand.

You can also embrace the spirit of Jack Frost and transform your room into a winter wonderland. Guests can bring presents that would keep someone cozy during the cold months. Swapping gifts while surrounded by snowflakes and sparkles might just feel like a Christmas miracle.

2. A particular color

It can be fun to choose a color for your gift exchange theme idea and see which gifts result from it. You can be festive with colors such as red and green or chic with blue and white.

You can also make opening color-themed gifts a fully immersive experience with the BlissRadia. With just a few taps on your phone, you can fill your room with a gentle glow in any hue you choose. You’ll watch your guests’ imaginations soar through a rainbow of endless possibilities.

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3. First letter of the gift giver’s name

To bring out everyone’s creativity, tell everyone to bring a gift that starts with the first letter of their name. Antiques, board games, card games – there’s a gift for every letter.

4. Local treasures

A local treasure gift exchange theme idea can help support businesses in your area while giving guests the opportunity to explore new shops. Gifts for this category can include locally made confections, jewelry, candles, coffee, soaps, and home decor. You might just see your neighborhood in a whole new light.

handmade soap

5. Inspired by their favorite holiday movie

There’s always that one holiday movie you get excited to watch every time December comes around. This is why telling your guests to choose a gift based on their favorite holiday movie can be so fun. Everyone can take off on their own spirited, magical Christmas adventure.

6. Inspired by the 12 days of Christmas

When it comes to Christmas gift exchange theme ideas, you can’t go wrong with picking the classic 12 days of Christmas. If you’re playing Secret Santa, guests can come up with 12 little gifts to get for their recipient. Surround the gift recipient with knick-knacks and gadgets they’ll adore to uplift true feelings of love and giving.

7. Vacation related

If you’re getting together with family and friends who are going away for the holidays, a vacation-themed gift exchange might be just what you need. Travel-related gifts such as eye masks, neck pillows, and passport holders are useful and thoughtful for excursions. You’ll bring style and comfort to all your loved ones’ grandest journeys.

neck pillow

8. Food-related

You can think outside the typical gift box with a food-related gift exchange theme idea. The holidays are the perfect time to indulge in festive treats you wouldn’t typically eat during the year. Ask everyone to bring a delicious treat, and feast on it all afterward to explore all the enticing flavors the season has to offer.

christmas sugar cookies

9. Handmade

Instead of buying random gifts from the mall, go a step further with homemade gifts. Handmade gifts can make the guests feel extra special because each present is one of a kind. Everyone can put their creative DIY skills to use while inspiring a friendly, feel-good atmosphere.

10. Pet-inspired

Everyone knows pets are members of the family too. To include them in the holiday party, tell your guests the theme is pet-inspired. Everyone can bring a present for a fuzzy pal – they’ll cuddle with their best friend under the glistening stars of Christmas.

11. Inspired by a phrase or song title

Can’t get “Jingle Bells” out of your head? Use it as inspiration for a gift exchange theme idea. Turn classic holiday tunes or phrases into creative gift exchange ideas. Your guests will sing in joy as they get their musical gifts.

11 popular and fun gift exchange game ideas

After you pick your theme, it’s time to choose which fun gift exchange game you want to play. For every game, you should set a budget for your guests to follow. Below are 11 fun gift exchange ideas you can try with your group.

1. Cookie swap

Some of the best cookies are everywhere during the holidays, and with a cookie swap, you and your guests can try them all. Each guest will typically bake at least 12 of their own delicious cookies so everyone will get the opportunity to taste each type. It’s a delightful way to transform your home into a North Pole confectionary.

christmas tree cookies with m&ms

2. Trivia

Keep the night interesting with a game of trivia gift swap. Create trivia questions that coincide with your chosen theme, whether Christmas movies, pop culture, or just general holiday facts. To pick a gift from the pile, players must answer a trivia question correctly. Adding a boost of creativity with a game of trivia can take your gift exchange to new heights.

3. Yankee swap

You can elevate your gift exchange above and beyond the usual with a game of Yankee swap. In this gift swap, each player gets a number that sets the order of everyone picking their gifts. Once the first player has opened their gift, the next player can pick a brand new gift from the pile or swap with someone else. With Yankee Swap, your guests will re-imagine what a friendly Christmas party can be.

4. Treasure hunt

If you’re hosting a gift exchange with lots of kids, consider turning it into a treasure hunt. Hide small gifts all over the house and send the kids on a hunt. You’ll get to sit back and relax, and the kids will go on an enchanting adventure without ever leaving the house.

5. Musical gifts

This gift exchange idea combines musical chairs and a classic gift swap. For this gift exchange idea, turn on some classic festive music while everyone is sitting in a circle. One player will hold a wrapped gift and pass it around when the music is on. When the music stops, the person holding the gift gets to keep it. The game is over when everyone gets a gift and you’ve fully set a joyous mood.

6. Gift card exchange

The holiday season can get busy, and not everyone might have the time to plan a present. With a gift card exchange, your guests simply have to get a gift card and wrap it up. Gift cards for restaurants, online shops, and subscription services are small, easy gifts that can go a long way.

7. Grab bag

Keep things simple and friendly with a grab bag gift exchange. For this gift exchange idea, everyone will bring a small gift and place it in a large bag or bucket. You’ll then randomly assign everyone a number that determines who picks gifts and when. Without looking, players will reach in and grab a gift. After everyone has a gift, it’s time to rip open the wrapping paper. As the gifts get unwrapped and your guests react with adoration, the mood will shift in tandem.

8. White Elephant

A traditional white elephant gift exchange is the way to go if you want a win-win for everyone. Your guests will bring a wrapped gift that will go into a pile. Everyone will draw a number out of a hat to determine when they can pick a random present. Once every player has a gift, watch as colorful wrapping paper brightens up your guests’ mood and turns their surroundings into a festive utopia.

wrapped presents

9. Recipe jar

Does everyone love your mac and cheese or chili recipe? With a recipe jar gift idea, guests can bottle up their favorite recipes in a jar for someone to take home. You’ll just need mason jars and written recipes for this easy gift. After the recipes are in the jars, label the jars and finish them with bows. Then, place them under the Christmas tree to bring the miracle of the holidays right to your living room.

10. Spin the candy cane

This unique take on “spin the bottle” can keep your friends and family engaged and amused. Players will spin the candy cane to see who they get to exchange gifts with. Each player should get at least one chance to swap presents. Play until everyone has a gift for an unpredictable, awe-inspiring evening.

11. Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a tried and true way to get office co-workers, friends, or family pumped up for the holiday season. For this gift exchange idea, everyone is randomly assigned a gift recipient. When the time comes, everyone will open their gift and try to guess who got it for them. You should remind everyone to keep their gifts a secret until it’s time to guess Secret Santas. All that surprise when opening gifts can make for a truly memorable experience.

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Tis the season for BlissLights

A gift exchange is the perfect time to open gifts with your loved ones and watch as your guests enter a state of true relaxation. With BlissLights, you can add some instant glow-up to your gift exchange ideas and leave everyone with a sparkling sense of awe. Browse the BlissLights collection now to take your gift exchange ideas above and beyond the everyday.

About BlissLights

BlissLights has been a leader in the laser lighting industry since the company was founded in 2006. Our team of experienced engineers and technicians helped create award-winning special effect lighting for major theme parks before minaturizing ourpatented technology for home use. BlissLights is dedicated to laser safety and education, and is registered with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).

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