Christmas Gift Giving Traditions can make holiday gift-giving much less stressful for large families and co-workers. Try these gift-giving rules and Christmas gift exchange ideas to make holiday gift-giving easier!
Keep the peace in your home, school, or workplace this holiday season with Christmas gift exchange ideas, games, rules and Christmas gift-giving traditions! Scroll down to see a list of Christmas gift rules and exchange ideas that make holiday gift-giving much easier on your wallet and stress level.
Related: 32 Fun Family Christmas Traditions
Keep the Peace with Gift Giving Rules, Gift Exchange Games, and Christmas Gift Giving Traditions
There are several reasons why implementing a Christmas gift rule or tradition in your home or workplace can help keep the peace this holiday season. For one thing, Christmas gift rules and practices can make holiday gift-giving a lot less stressful for large families and co-workers.
Gift-giving rules and exchanges also make perfect sense for families that live far from each other because it makes it easier to cut down on shipping costs and other expenses that add up quickly during the holidays.
Christmas gift exchange ideas like those on the list below can also make it easier for family members and friends with a smaller Christmas budget to participate in holiday gift-giving. Because gift-giving rules often make it much easier for everyone in the family to afford Christmas gifts.
And finally, Christmas gift-giving traditions can lessen Christmas’s impact on our children’s mental health and well-being. Too many gifts breed dissatisfaction and entitlement.
Help everyone remain happy and healthy with the fun gratitude activities and Christmas gift exchange ideas on the list below this holiday season. Feel free to mix and match or create your own Christmas gift-giving tradition from the gift-giving rules, games, traditions and other fun ideas below.
1. The four gift rule gift-giving tradition; want, need, wear, read.
- The classic Christmas four-gift rule is: “Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.” This Christmas gift rule is common in families with young children.
- People that follow this Christmas gift tradition give each child one gift representing the four rules. In other words, each child in the house is given something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Please review the book suggestions HERE and our gift guide for Children.
2. Second-hand or handmade Christmas gift-giving rule.
- The rule for the second-hand or handmade Christmas gift tradition is just as it sounds. Gifts can be purchased at second-hand stores or handmade by the gifter or an artisan. You can do both if you’re feeling crafty!
- Check out our gift guide and this list of homemade gifts kids (and adults) can make for ideas to fulfill this Christmas gift-giving rule.
- You can find wonderful second-hand gifts at thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist, or in your giveaway box. Purchase an item second-hand and upcycle it for a double whammy second-hand homemade gift!
3. Experiences instead of things Christmas gift-giving rule.
- The rule for this Christmas gift-giving tradition is to give family members things they’d like to do, such as classes or trips, instead of more stuff they don’t necessarily need.
- You can give experiences instead of things to each person, a couple, the kids, the parents, or the whole family. Make sure everyone is gifted with an enjoyable experience, and you are good to go!
Experiences instead of things gift ideas:
- Tickets to an event, show, or amusement park.
- Spa treatment or spa day.
- The gift of a vacation or trip.
- A class, classes, or lessons of some kind. (Examples include cooking, dancing, pottery, sewing, knitting, jewelry making, yoga, golf, swimming, gymnastics, music, art, etc.)
- Dinner at a nice restaurant. (Hint: date night and weekend coupons are always a great idea for mom and dad from the kids!)
- Membership for a month, a year, or a lifetime.
4. Secret Santa Christmas gift exchange tradition.
- This Christmas gift exchange rule is perfect for large families, schoolmates, large groups of friends, and co-workers.
- The Secret Santa gift-giving tradition is when each person picks another person’s name out of a hat, and you become the Secret Santa for the chosen person. The rule is that you won’t know who your Secret Santa is until they reveal themselves to you on gift-giving day.
- Some families and co-workers draw a name out of the hat on or after Christmas Day and agree to give and send secret gifts to this family member throughout the year (birthday, Easter, Valentine’s Day, etc.) with one final gift and revel on Christmas Day. Other families and co-workers agree to spend under a specified amount on a gift given at Christmas.
- The Secret Santa Christmas gift exchange is easy to combine with another Christmas gift tradition such as “second-hand or handmade” or “experiences instead of things.”
Related: Christmas Art Project Ideas
5. The white elephant Christmas gift exchange game.
- The White Elephant gift exchange is a popular Christmas tradition where the participants do their best to walk away with the best present. “It also goes by Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, and many other names.”
- “The White Elephant game has many names, variations, and rulesets associated with it. Some are super simple, while others confusingly elaborate.” Check out the official white elephant gift exchange rules HERE.
6. Other Fun Christmas gift exchange games.
- If you are tired of the white elephant gift exchange game, give one of these 14 fun and creative Christmas gift exchange game ideas over on Play. Party. Plan a try this year.
7. Jolabokaflod Icelandic Christmas Eve book gift tradition.
- In the mid-nineteen hundreds, Iceland started a lovely gift tradition that many people participate in on Christmas Eve called Jolabokaflod.
- Jolabokaflod translates to read “Yule Book Flood” or “Christmas Book Flood” and is the Icelandic tradition of giving and receiving a new book on Christmas Eve.
- This new book gift Christmas gift exchange tradition began during World War II once Iceland had gained its independence from Denmark in 1944. Because paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during the war, Icelanders shared their love of books as other types of gifts became short in supply.
- Learn more about how the gift-giving tradition known as Jolabokaflod began HERE.
- You might also enjoy this list of Christmas Traditions and these book gift ideas for kids.
8. Stockings only Christmas gift rule.
- The rule for this Christmas gift-giving tradition is only to give small items and things that easily fit into a Christmas stocking. (Psst–experience gift certificates are great options for this rule ;))
- If you want to try this Christmas gift rule, invite each family member to find something for everyone’s stockings.
- Combine this Christmas gift tradition with the Secret Santa gift exchange idea for even more fun. (Draw names on Christmas day to learn whose stocking you need to fill next year!)
9. Santa sacks Christmas gift tradition.
- My family came up with this fun gift exchange idea for Christmas. We like to use this Christmas gift-giving tradition to teach our children that they must give to receive.
- First, gift each person in the house a Santa Sack sometime before Christmas. (We like to get ours out during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.)
- Next, encourage everyone to fill their Santa Sacks with items they’d like to give to those in need.
- Invite everyone to place their Santa sacks filled with donations under the tree on Christmas Eve.
- Switch the bags out and replace them with wrapped gifts under the tree. Or empty each Santa Sack into a donation bin to be donated later, fill the sacks with gifts for each person, and put them back under the tree to be opened on Christmas morning.
- Pro tip: If a gift is too big to fit into a Santa sack or under the tree, have the recipient open a box with the start of a scavenger hunt tucked inside, so they have to hunt for their gift!
- Store your Santa sacks in the Christmas box to use again next year.
10. Scavenger Hunt Gift Game.
- Here’s another fun gift-giving game my husband came up with and mentioned in the Santa sack gift tradition above. When a gift is too hard to wrap or too bit to fit in a box, wrap up a note to send the giftee on a gift scavenger hunt instead!
- If you’d like to try this Christmas gift game, follow the step-by-step instructions in the next section.
- This scavenger hunt gift game also works great for birthday gifts.
Related: Winter Scavenger Hunt
Gift scavenger hunt instructions:
- Write notes leading the giftee from the wrapped gift to the hidden present or final gift. (The hidden gift can be wrapped or unwrapped.)
- Write one note that leads the giftee directly to the hidden gift or several notes that lead them to several locations, with a note directing them to the next hiding place hidden in each location.
- Place the first note in a wrapped box to give to the giftee to start the gift scavenger hunt.
- The gift scavenger hunt game ends when the gift is found, opened, and revealed.
Start a Christmas Gift Exchange or Gift Giving Tradition This Year!
Try these Christmas gift-giving exchange ideas with your family, friends, or co-workers to keep the peace in your home, school, or workplace this Christmas.
Feel free to mix and match or create your own Christmas gift exchange from the above ideas. For example, you can combine the second-hand or handmade rule with the secret Santa gift-giving tradition.
Another idea is to combine the four-gift rule with a family experience gift. If the children are teenagers, the parents can get four gifts for each of the children, while the teens can gift the whole family with an experience to enjoy together or an experience just for mom and dad–you get the idea!
Remember, Christmas gift-giving traditions are supposed to take the stress out of the holidays. If the Christmas tradition becomes a stressor, don’t do it. It isn’t worth it if it’s not fun for everyone to have a Christmas gift exchange!
Related: Christmas Art Project Ideas for Kids
Christmas Gift Ideas to Exchange with Loved Ones
Please look at our ultimate family gift guide with DIY and readymade ideas for everyone on your list. In it, we share our favorite homemade gift ideas and readymade ideas you can buy with the click of a button. Or, visit the Rhythms of Play Store.
Next, read this list of fun family Christmas traditions that make the holidays magical. You may also like our winter bucket list; it’s filled with fun seasonal ideas to enjoy with your children and loved ones.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE! Happy holidays!
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