Gift-giving is a key moment of most Christmas parties, so why not make it more than a simple exchange?
Here are some ideas for jazzing it up.
Are you spending a small fortune buying Christmas gifts for all of the adults in your large family? When you gather at Thanksgiving, put everyone's names in a bowl and have those who wish to participate draw names.
Keep drawn names quiet until the exchange so it's a surprise to all. (If you are not gathering at Thanksgiving, one person will need to draw names for all and call or email them the names they got, promising to keep it a secret.)
This gives about a month to shop for just one person. Setting a spending minimum and limit is encouraged.
Another suggestion: Anyone younger than 18 still get gifts from everyone and are not part of the singular gift exchange.
The numbers game
Everyone in the family buys one $30-$40 gift — something for either gender. Bring it wrapped to the Christmas party. During the exchange, place gifts in a pile in the center of the gathering space. Each person draws a number, and gifts are selected in number order.
The second person to select a gift may choose the first person's already-opened gift, or select a new one from the pile. Everyone has this option — to select a gift from those who opened before they did, or pick a new one from the pile.
The last person to draw gets to see all the unopened gifts except the final unopened gift. If he selects the unopened gift, the exchange ends. If he selects an unwrapped gift, whomever he took it from opens the final unwrapped gift, then that ends the exchange.
Don't have cash to spend on gift-giving this season? The White Elephant gift exchange is the way to get around that. Those involved should find an item in their home they no longer wish to own, and bring it wrapped to the exchange.
Everyone gets something that someone else didn't want, and no one spends.
Try not to choose something that someone may have given you as a gift in previous years, or this becomes awkward! This game is allegedly called "White Elephant" because there once was a king who gave albino elephants as gifts to courtiers who upset him, and it was burdensome for them to care after the animals.
Larger families looking for something to stretch out the fun of unwrapping gifts might consider this: Play a one-minute game (here's a list of game ideas) before each gift is unwrapped. The winner of the game is the person who gets to open his gifts next. Only people who haven't unwrapped gifts play in each round.