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Secret Santa… it’s a go-to for large groups and anyone keen to cut down on clutter (and their Christmas shopping list), but it’s overdue for a shake up. Enter: these twists on Christmas gift swaps.

Yankee Swap/White Elephant

Even if you don’t know these games by name, you might have heard about them. Everyone buys a gift within the set price range or theme (e.g., joke gifts) and wraps it, but doesn’t address it to anyone. When your group gets together, put all presents under the tree then take turns drawing a number from a hat. Number 1 will choose and open the first gift – when it’s Number 2’s turn, they can either choose another gift or steal from Number 1. Go around the circle, choosing new gifts or stealing opened ones. A gift can only be stolen three times.

The travelling gift box

Ideal for exchanging gifts between friends far away, all you’ll need is a box filled with one small gift for each friend (label them) and a note. Send the box to your first friend, who will choose a gift, add their own gifts and write a message on the note. They’ll send it on to the next friend who will do the same thing, and so on and so forth. When the box gets back to you, you’ll have gifts to open and a lovely note to read through!

Guess the gift

Everyone buys a gift within the allocated price range and puts their gift under the tree. Here’s the twist: the goal is to make the gift unrecognisable based on the wrapping. Giving a book? Wrap it in rags so it feels soft and squishy. Giving a bottle of wine? Put it in a shoe box. Something tiny should go in a massive box, and something luxe could be put into a bag from a bargain store. Draw numbers from a hat, or go from youngest to oldest choosing gifts. It doesn’t matter what you receive – the creative wrapping is half the fun!

A group gift

Okay, so this isn’t exactly a ‘gift exchange’ – but it is a great way to save money on gifts while still enjoying something together. Instead of buying physical gifts, why not spend the money on a shared experience among your group? Maybe it’s a holiday, be it big (a cruise or an overseas vacation) or small (a camping trip). It could also be something you can all use together, like rollerblades or concert tickets. It’s a great way to bond with your nearest and dearest and give one another the greatest gift of all – quality time.

Do a gift hunt

If we can do it during Easter, we can do it at Christmastime, too! Have each member of your group buy and wrap small gifts – like stationery, chocolates, beauty products, small toys or even Christmas decorations – and write their name on them. Take turns hiding the gifts around the house or garden. When all the presents are hidden, come back together and have everyone start the hunt at the same time. The rule is, you can’t collect your own gift.

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.