Gift-giving comes with an enormous price tag—figuratively and literally. You may worry: Is the gift appropriate? Is it too expensive or too cheap? A creative approach to keeping costs down is a gift exchange. These instructions will help you organize the perfect gift exchange party:

The Exchange: Secret Santa
  • Determine who gets whom. Have someone draw everyone's name from a hat, then make the master list. Encourage family members and employees not to discuss whom they have. As people open their gifts, they'll guess who their Secret Santa is.
  • Set a monetary limit on gifts. A suggested amount for companies is $10 to $20; among families it can range from $10 to any amount that's chosen.
  • Enjoy shopping for just the right gift for your Secret Santa.
The Exchange: White Elephant

  • Set up the party as you would a Secret Santa event.
  • Go through your closets and dig out unloved treasures, retail disasters and plastic monstrosities. Bob the Big-Mouthed Bass singing "Take Me to the River," dancing Santa's and kung fu rodents are perennial white-elephant favorites.
  • Wrap your elephant beautifully to encourage all those suckers to take your bait. The uglier the gift, the better you need to wrap it.
  • Hand out slips of paper with numbers on them to assign the order in which gifts are chosen. Explain that each person can either choose a wrapped present, or take something another person has already opened. If that happens, that poor soul has to brave the gift pile again.
  • Enjoy all of the pleasure of giving and receiving with absolutely none of the stress.
  • Unwrap the gift you got stuck with and put it away for next year.
From How to Organize (Just About) Everything by Peter Walsh Copyright © 2004 by Weldon Owen Inc. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY.


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