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Christmas Gift Swapping: A Greener Alternative

Updated: May 5, 2021

Have you ever participated in a group gift swap before? Want to take the pressure out of finding a perfect gift for every one of your friends and family this holiday season? Consider doing a gift swap with your friends and family to save time, money, and the environment in the process! This blog post will cover several different ways you can participate in a gift swap, which will not only help you solve the problems mentioned but will also add a factor of fun to gift-giving this year.

First of all, gift-giving takes up a significant portion of your time because you have to dedicate some part of your holiday towards hunting for those gifts, and for some of us, shopping is not a fun way to spend our free time. Secondly, buying gifts every year for family and friends eats away a significant amount of your savings, especially if you neglect to set some sort of budget or limit on how much you’re willing to spend on gifts annually. Thirdly, it produces a tremendous amount of waste every year. Especially when you think about wrapping paper, tape, ribbons, and greeting cards involved in gift-giving, not to mention any unwanted gifts that get thrown out in some shape or form as well.

With a gift swap, you’ll only have to shop for a single person or a single generic gift, and can spend less time shopping, less money on gifts in general, and save the amount of wrapping materials you’ll end up using this holiday season.

Ways to do a Gift Swap

  1. Secret Santa

This gift swapping tradition is a classic. For those who don’t know how Secret Santa works, this gift swapping tradition is pulling out names from a hat, but with a twist. After gathering a group of people who would like to participate, have everyone put their name on a folded slip of paper and put all the names in a hat, jar, or some sort of container for people to draw out of. Have each person draw a name from the container, but have everyone keep the name to themselves. Then, each person should purchase a gift for the person whose name they drew and bring it to a holiday/Christmas event in which everyone in the group will be attending. With the gift should be some sort of clue as to who the gift giver is, and at the event, each person will take turns opening their gift and guessing who their “Secret Santa” is. Variations to this gift swapping tradition can include setting a price range, having multiple rounds with smaller gifts, having people hide the gift in some location (ideal for office parties or house parties) and getting each person to seek out their gift.

2. White Elephant

Another Christmas classic is the White Elephant, in which every participant brings a wrapped gift and draws numbers dictating the order in which they will choose their presents. Once everyone has placed their gift in a communal area, the first person chooses and unwraps a gift. The second person can choose to either steal the first person’s gift or choose another from the pile, and if a person has their gift “stolen” from them, they get to choose or steal another gift as well. This game continues until everyone has a gift in their hands, with the objective being to get the most exciting present out of all. The key to doing the White Elephant is for participants to bring interesting and unique gifts to make the experience and the “stealing of gifts” more fun! Variations to this gift swapping tradition can also include limiting the number of times a gift can be stolen, having a theme for the gifts, or capping the number of times someone can have a gift stolen from them.

3. Cobweb Party

This gift swapping idea might not sound familiar. Still, if you’ve seen The Nutcracker and the Four Realms on Netflix, then you might recall each of the children following a piece of string tagged with their names to find their present, and this is exactly what a cobweb party is referring to. While it is a little more challenging to set up in small spaces, this is a great outdoor party idea, especially if you have children involved. Everyone in attendance should bring a gift. The organizer can attach different colored strings to each gift and hide them in different locations, which the gift recipients must find by following a colored string of their choice.

4. Treasure Hunt

Similar to the Cobweb Party, you could also set up a holiday-themed treasure hunt. With thematic clues that lead to the final prize, with different group gifts for first, second, and third place or small gifts for every group located every step of the way. With treasure hunts, you have the freedom to get creative and design the treasure hunt to be as long and elaborate as you’d like, allowing for maximum fun and additionally serving as a filler activity to pass the time! You’ll also be saving your budget as this gift swapping idea doesn’t require you to provide a pricey gift for everyone and can incorporate smaller and simpler gifts into the process.


Feel free to try one or more of these gift swapping ideas with your loved ones as you begin to prepare for the holiday season, and maybe bring it up during this weekend’s dinner to prepare the gifts and draw names (if you’re doing a Secret Santa) while you’re all together this weekend! Either way, these gift swap ideas are sure to add an extra bit of fun to this holiday season and spice up the traditional practice of gift-giving. If you want to learn more about eco-conscious holiday practices, ways to minimize your environmental footprint, or just environmentalism and sustainability in general, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter, stay tuned for more blog posts, and follow us on Instagram @wellmadewrld !

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