10 Easy Gift Exchange Ideas

Many of us are attending holiday get-togethers where a gift exchange is part of the festivities. It can be challenging (and sometimes costly) to come up with a good gift exchange item. Check out the list below for gift exchange ideas that are fun, creative, and easy on the budget. All of these ideas can easily be put together with a visit to your local dollar or discount store.

  1. Holiday Lights Centerpiece. This is so easy to do and very inexpensive. You can make this as small or large as you like, just make it colorful and festive! Warning – – you will want one for yourself! You’ll need: a package of round or ball ornaments (you can do different sizes or all one size); a strand of glittery tinsel garland; a strand of battery-operated holiday or fairy lights; a glass vase, bowl, or jar. Fill the bowl/vase/jar with the ornaments. Next, wrap the tinsel garland around the strand of lights. Weave the tinsel garland with lights in and around the ornaments in the bowl/vase/jar, making sure to leave the on/off device for the lights at the top so that it is easily accessible. Turn on the lights and adjust the lighted garland as needed to make sure the lights and tinsel are evenly distributed and can be seen from any viewing angle. You can get creative with this by adding other items such as pinecones, imitation holly sprigs and berries, imitation snow, candy canes, etc. This also makes a beautiful Hannukah decoration by using silver and blue ornaments and silver tinsel.
  2. Build a Treat Jar. You’ll need a medium-to-large-sized plastic or glass container with a lid. You can fill the container with things like Hershey’s Kisses, chocolate/white chocolate covered pretzels with sprinkles, peppermint sticks, holiday mini-candy bars, Chex Mix, different flavors of popcorn (cheddar, caramel, etc.), M&Ms, mixed nuts – – you get the idea. After you have filled the container, place a bow on the top or tie a ribbon around it.
  3. Build a Cookie Box. This is one of my favorites! You’ll need a holiday shirt box; holiday tissue gift paper; cupcake liners; and a variety of cookies (store-bought or homemade). Remove the lid from the shirt box and line the bottom of the box with the tissue paper so that some of the tissue paper hangs over the sides. Next, place enough cupcake liners in the bottom of the box so that they fit fairly close together. Add enough cookies to fill each cupcake liner (approximately 3-4, depending on the size of the cookies). If you have spaces in between the cupcake liners, you can add things like peppermint candies or mini-candy canes, chocolate kisses, pieces of fudge, etc. to make the box fuller and more decorative. Fold the tissue paper over the top of the cookies (add an extra sheet if needed) and place the lid/top of the box over the bottom. Add a strip of tape to each side of the box to keep the top and bottom together. Wrap with string or ribbon.
  4. Holiday Napkins. You’ll need cloth napkins (festive-colored or holiday print), decorative ribbon, and any of the following: holiday floral “piks” or sprigs; silk poinsettias; miniature bells; candy canes; snowflake ornaments, etc. Roll each napkin and tie it with a ribbon. Insert a poinsettia, holiday floral pik/sprig, or candy cane between the napkin and ribbon, or tie bells or ornaments to the ribbon. I recommend at least 4 to 6 napkins.
  5. Baker’s Bag. You will need a rubber spatula/scraper; a whisk; a measuring spoon set; a measuring cup set; a holiday apron; holiday hot pads/oven mitts; and, a box/bag of cookie mix, cake mix, or bread mix. You can add other things if you like, such as a jar of sprinkles, or scale it down if you prefer. This can also make a wonderful gift for a young budding chef!
  6. Pampering Box. You will need a medium-sized gift box (one that’s pre-decorated is ideal) and gift tissue paper. Line the box with the tissue paper and fill it with any of the following: bath salts; body lotion or body butter; bubble bath/bath gel; foot scrub; mani/pedi items; scented candles; chocolates; sparkling water; loofah sponge, etc. Top the box off with a bow or ribbon.
  7. Book Lover’s Tote Bag. You will need a canvas tote bag (plain or decorated – or decorate it yourself!). Then add a few books. Some ideas include holiday story books; Chicken Soup for the Soul books; crossword or sudoku puzzle books; holiday poem books; inspirational books; biographies; travel guides, etc.
  8. Movie Night Bag. Fill a gift bag with all the things that make a movie night fun. Ideas: a cozy throw blanket; individual boxes of theater-style candy; popcorn; pretzels; bottles of soda. Throw in a movie theater gift card if you want to beef it up!
  9. Door Spray/Decoration. This is so simple, yet so lovely. You’ll need several artificial pine boughs, a few artificial holly berry sprigs, a ball of twine, and decorative ribbon. Gather the pine boughs together and turn them upside down so that the stems of the pine boughs are pointed up and the branches of the pine boughs are pointed down. Tie the stems of the pine boughs together tightly with the twine, making sure they are very secure and will not shake loose. Next, gather the holly berry sprigs and tie them securely to where you tied the pine boughs together. Separate and form the limbs of the pine boughs so that they look natural and full. Make a decorative bow with the ribbon and attach it to the pine bough stems, just above the holly berries. If you like, you can wrap the pine bough stems in ribbon before attaching the bow. Create a loop in the back for hanging. To get more creative, you can use flocking spray to add the effect of snow or weave in a string of fairy lights.
  10. New Year’s Party In a Box. Get a good-sized gift box and fill it with all the things that make New Year’s fun! Ideas include packages of balloons; confetti; streamers; noise makers; poppers; New Year’s hats and masks; a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider; paper New Year’s plates and napkins; plastic New Year’s cups; glow bracelets or glow sticks. Let your imagination run free with this one!

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