Family Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas

Updated on August 08, 2010
C.M. asks from Anchorage, AK
18 answers

Hi Moms,
Looking for ideas for alternative to a Christmas Gift Exchange. My husbands parents are divorced, so in the last couple of years, we have been drawing names for a party with Mom, and a party with Dad. Because of the two parties, it means we have a total of 4 presents to buy. His siblings have set the price range at $100, and I think it might be more meaningful to do something else this year. Typically, we end up spending $400 for the adults, and another $100 on children's presents for each party... A price tag for family at $500-$600 seems a bit much to me!!!

Thanks for your ideas!!

(The reason we are thinking so far ahead, is that most of the family has a vacation planned in the next month, and it is nice to have the option to shop somewhere besides AK! Our options are limited, so its nice to look at stores we dont have up here!)

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answers from Tallahassee on

We only buy presents for the kids and the adults do a fun "White Elephant Game" with either real gifts (limit of $25) or a gift you've received that is in new condition that you wrap up as a 'white elephant" gift. The game itself is a lot of fun...let me know if you need the rules. Christmas is for kids anyway!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Well you could do the same thing pick names, but don't but a price range. It shouldn't be about the price it's all about the thought. Especially now a days it's much harder. If you hit good sales and places like Ross/TJ Max you will find name brands for less. Macy's has great sales if coupons and their discount racks. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Kansas City on

wow a hundred bucks sounds like so much! probably not up your family's alley, but one year we did a "homemade" christmas for our extended family. aunts, uncles, cousins, we all did something homemade and brought enough for everyone. there was everything from candies to jellies to homemade bread, to crafty stuff...the possibilities were endless. i got some cool hand made christmas decorations.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Wow! Our family limit is 20.00. You guys are very generous! Our grandparents/parents have asked that nothing is brought for them - and they mean it. They say holidays are for the kids - in our case adult children/siblings and the children. We don't exchange gifts w/ everyone - it is bring one female/male gift depending on your gender. The adults do the trading thing but children don't.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

If this is too much money for your family to be spending then I would just bite the bullet and speak up!! Everyone is having to cut corners in todays economy and my bet is that some one else in the family is thinking the same thing and is just not brave enough to speak up and say something.
Maybe you could suggest buying as a couple for another couple...that would cut the presents in half.
Christmas gift, or gifts for any other occassion should never be a burden or an obligation...they should be done out of love and the joy of giving the gift. Maybe you could come up with something that you could make...a craft or a home made gift of some sort and that could be your gift to everyone at the party. You could preface it with...."This year we decided to have a handmade Christmas and I wanted to include all of you ....I Hope you get as much joy out of our gift as we got out of making it for you".
Last year we all made home made ornaments, each family made enough to exchange with each other family was SUCH a hit!!! I am hoping in a few years that I can have enough home made ornaments to completely decorate my tree with them!!!
Don't let Christmas stress you out....relax....and be practical and honest with yourself and with your family about what you can afford to do.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

We do a blind gift exchange for the adults. We spend between 20 - 40 on something cool, wrap it and put it on the pool table, then we draw numbers and open presents. If you really like someone elses, you can steal it before you open one, and an item can only be stolen twice. If your present is stolen, you can open a new one or steal one. It's super fun! And we usually end up with something cool we wouldnt have gotten or thought of, like a last year we got a little coleman lamp and a temp/rainwater guage. The lamp came in handy one night when our power went out. It is always fun, although occasionally the under 21s will open a gift that's alcohol, but it's always stolen or their parents make them trade it with them at the end. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We don't buy for the adults any longer in our family. We buy for the kids, and it is whatever you can afford to give. Usually it is around 25 dollars. I do get my mother something for christmas though. Just can't fathom not getting her something. Again, nothing expensive, just a gift card or something for a reasonable amount. Christmas is getting to get more about how much you spend, not spending it with family.



answers from San Antonio on

have you seen this option for Christmas:

Your gifts can be more meaningful and cost less! check it out, I promise you'll like the idea. :)


answers from Dover on

You could actually do like kids use to do in school. Boys bought one boy gift. Girls buy one girl gift (that way there is enough of each). The day of the exchange you could draw names to see who gets to pick first. Obviously, if you include the kids in this type of exchange, you would have to be careful to specify the age range of the gift or have a few age groups established.

My husband's family does the traditional drawing a name gift exchange but then everyone buys for the kids that are under Jr High age.

Another option would be to just buy for the kids and skip the adult exchange. Or do family gifts.



answers from Portland on

$100 per adult is crazy expensive! My family use to draw names for the adults and buy for the kids. $20-$25 range. Then some of the adults would say they are participating, add their names, then when it came to opening presents they hadn't bought anything. It was really sad so we stopped. Now we buy a "family gift" and then maybe something small for kids under 18. So I really like the suggestion of the White Elephant gift exchange for the adults. Then the gifts are more generic and everyone who brings a gift gets to take one home. Then if someone wants to do more they can do homemade gifts. But depending on the ages of the children I'd still buy gifts for each of them. I think I may implement that for my family this year. But $100 per person is ridiculously high for my budget.



answers from Boise on

I have been doing hitorical and financial research for the last 4 years and America is in the EYE, (the strange calm) of a storm and people don't even know it. The hard times we have been going through will seem petty compared to what is coming. We are not out of the depression-we are just entering the Beginning of it! The next year will be harder, and the following year really, really tough, 2012-2016 is going to be an absolute * shocker* for everyone. Hyperinflation is immenent. I mean, $10.00 or 20.00 a gallon for gas but still rising above that... as inflation keeps soaring. Food will be holy-cow- expensive- if you can even get it. The weird weather storms and patterns we have experienced this year and last year is creating food shortages all over the world. Since we are one of the PRIME exporters of grain , corn, and soy, you can bet we will eventually feel it like many foreign countries currently are. The TV media is not reporting the truth about the massive global food shortage that will come our way and hit people like a tidal wave. Take a moment to type in "global food crisis" on a search engine and see what pops up. Also "devaluation of the dollar" is another good one. America claimed emergency status all over the states this year , and last fall, because of all the rain- absolutely mutilating the crops.

I think it is wise of you cut the corners now and save that money.
Here is just 2 links:


answers from Medford on

I personally don't think that adults should exchange gifts once they have kids. We spend our money spoiling our niece's and nephews (we have 11 now and that is enough money there). We still buy a gift for my brother as he just graduated high school, but other than that our adult siblings don't really "need" anything as neither do we...



answers from Boston on

Perhaps you could instead choose an activity that everyone would enjoy and do it together during a summer month. My parents started renting a house for one week over the summer on a lake or river. My brother and his family, my sister, and my husband and my family have the best time just spending time together for that week. For $500-$600 per family you could get quite a house!


answers from Chicago on

On both sides of the family, we only buy for the kids with a $50 limit for each kid. We typically spend less though. We spend a little more on each of our kids. My husband and I do exchange gifts, but mainly small things (calendars and maybe a splurge).

We use cash - no credit cards. We save during the year for Christmas.



answers from Norfolk on

We are doing two drawings in my family. One is for a purchased gift (we don't have any price limit or expectation, but an unspoken agreement to keep it "reasonable.") The second name drawing is for a homemade gift. We had no such limitations for the children of the family, but since my son was seeming overwhelmed and disinterested in the barage of gifts he was receiving for Christmas, we decided to draw months and someone gets him a gift each month. That is what we've done to tone down the crazy and be able to enjoy our time together at the holidays.


answers from Los Angeles on

We used to pick names out of a hat and only buy a gift for that person. Then the adults would do a seperate white elephant gift exchange.
My friends family only buys books for nephews and neices and saves the actual presents for the parents to buy. And they do not exchange presents between adults.
My boyfriends family does a drawing among the adults. Whoever wants to participate buys a gift and adds their name to the list. They are given a number and when its picked out of "the hat" they pick a gift (not knowing what it is or who its from.they also have a 50 dollar limit). In his family its at the descretion of his aunts and uncles if they choose to buy a gift for our baby. If they did they gave it to his mom to put in the other room so the other kids at the party would not notice (our baby is the youngest in the family, and the only grandchild of my mother in law, so her entire family spoils our child). Good Luck! =)



answers from San Diego on

Hi C., what I am doing is hosting Christmas at my house, family members can come or not come. The ones who come will have something under the tree, the ones who make other plans we don't by for. And never set the price that high. especially with the ecconimy where it is right now. You can also do white elephant exchange and that's where you give some thing you already have or you by something and spend 5 dollars or less. I would never do sepreate party's or anything because people split up, or for any other reason. J.

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