Ornament Exchange Party

party balloons

Hosting a holiday party? If you need a more interesting incentive for your friends to attend than just, “Hey, come over, eat food, and talk,” consider hosting an ornament exchange party.


There are so many ways to incorporate this idea into your party.

The Used Ornament Re-gift

Tired of the same old ornaments every year? Mix it up with your friends! You can also do this with any Christmas decorations, not just ornaments.

Invite everyone to bring an ornament (or even a few ornaments) that have no sentimental attachment. Then have each person bring their ornaments in a bag. Sit in a circle and play the “Left, Right Gift Exchange Game” where a story is read (you will need to choose a narrator) and every time the word “Left” is used everyone passes their bag to the left and every time the word “Right” is used everyone passes their bag to the right. By the time the end of the story is reached and the passes have stopped each person will have a different bag and new-to-them ornaments to add to their Christmas décor.

The Crafty Ornament Exchange

If you and your friends love holiday crafts, you can invite everyone to make their own ornaments, bring them to the party, and exchange these homemade treasures with each other.

Small Effort: Have each person make one ornament. Then sit in a circle and hand your ornament to the person on the right while the person on the left hands you theirs. This way no one’s feelings get hurt (like picking team members in school gym) and everyone comes home with a new ornament.

Large Effort: Have each person make 6 or 12 ornaments (depending on how many confirmed guests you have attending). If you have more than 12 guests, don’t worry, it will still work out. Each person brings their set of ornaments and then the exchange can be done by standing in a circle and having each person take a turn handing out their ornaments to the next 12 people in the circle. Each new person starts from their place in line so by the time all of the exchanging is done it will work out that everyone has 12 ornaments from friends. (Once again, this method makes it fair so no one’s ornament becomes more popular than someone else’s.)

The Purchased Ornament Exchange

Choose a budget limit and have each invited guest bring a purchased ornament within that budget. Instruct each person to wrap or gift bag their ornament but not to attach a name to the package. As each guest arrives add their ornament to a pile. There are two very easy games that can be played.

The Raffle Game
The host numbers each wrapped ornament and places the coordinating numbers in a bag. Each guest draws a number and received the ornament that matches their number. The odds of a guest getting their own ornament are low if you have a large group, but you can allow for a re-draw if it so happen they get their own ornament.

The White Elephant Game
A popular gift exchange game can easily be used with the ornament exchange. Everyone sits around the pile of gifts. The host picks who goes first. The first person chooses a package and unwraps the ornament to show it to everyone. The person next to them now has the option to “steal” the previous person’s ornament or choose a wrapped package from the pile. Should someone’s ornament be “stolen” the person left without an ornament now returns to the pile and opens another ornament. As the turns are taken throughout the circle the steals can get pretty funny, that is as long as you are playing with a good-natured group that sees the fun in the event (this game is not good for kids). If you choose to play the white elephant game you may want to encourage your guests to bring humorous or bizarre ornaments to add to the entertainment value of the event.

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