By Lauren LaFleur

assistanteditor@jacksonvilleprogress.com



Gift giving can be a really exciting time, but if you’re used to the old tried and true traditions your family has held for years, this year might be the year to shake things up a bit.

There are an endless number of ways you can make gift-exchanges fun and exciting. Here are just a few ideas — try one out with your family this year and see how it goes.

Chances are, you’ll all have a memorable — and fun — time.



The left-right gift exchange



Have each guest bring either a gift worth a set amount, a gift card for a set amount, or a white elephant gift. Each gift must be wrapped so no one can see what is inside. Have everyone, except a designated storyteller (usually the host or hostess), sit in a circle.

The storyteller then reads a special left-right story. Each time the word “left” is read, everyone passes their gift one place to the left. When “right” is read, everyone passes one person to the right.

This gets really fun and exciting when several lefts and rights — and words either containing these or sound-alike words like “write” — are in a single sentence.

Once the story ends, everyone opens the gift they’re holding. It’s theirs to keep!

For some original left-right stories, visit www.jacksonvilleprogress.com.



A “dice”y ex-change



Wrap a generic gift in a box, then “layer” it with a layer of masking tape, wrapping paper, masking tape, etc. Do this for as many layers as you want — the more the better.

Have your guests sit in a circle with the gift in the middle (don’t tell them that under the pretty paper lies more layers). Start with the youngest or oldest of the group, and have them roll a pair of dice.

The dice continue around the circle with each guest rolling once, until someone rolls a pair of doubles. That person gets to move to the center of the circle and begin unwrapping the present while the dice rolling continues. The next person to roll doubles gets their turn at unwrapping the gift.

The person to unwrap the gift completely gets to keep it.

The catch? The person unwrapping the gift must wear a pair of potholders while they unwrap.

Idea from partygameideas.com



Box in a box exchange



Wrap an inexpensive gift in a box, then put that in another box and wrap it.

Continue this for as many wrapped-box layers as you like — but on each wrapped box, tape a clue.

The largest box (outer box) could have the clue, “This gift is for the first person to touch it.”

When they open the gift, the next box’s clue could be, “Pass this to the person on your left.”

The gifts continue around the room until the last gift, which could have a clue like, “This gift is for the person who washed the dishes.”

Idea from santalady.com



Guess what’s in the stocking



This isn’t really a gift exchange, but perhaps a fun game that can hold a gift as a prize at the end for the winner.

Place several items (20-25 perhaps) you typically only see at Christmas in a large stocking — these can include things like a pine cone, Scotch tape, an ornament, holly, a candy cane, etc.

Secure the top of the stocking by tying it closed or pinning it so guests cannot peek inside.

Have each guest “feel” the items through the stocking, then write their guesses on a piece of paper.

The guest with the most correct guesses wins a small gift, a collectable ornament, or a “trophy” (homemade or purchased) that they will then bring to next year’s celebration and relinquish to the next year’s winner.

A variation of this would be to put each item in its own stocking and number them. This way guests can move around the room and all play at the same time.

Idea from partygameideas.com



Christmas carol “pictionary”



Prepare for this game by writing the names of well-known Christmas carols on slips of paper, then divide into two stockings.

Divide guests into two teams. Each needs a pad of paper and a pen, pencil or set of markers.

Have someone from each team draw the name of a carol from their team’s stocking, then attempt to get their team to guess the name of the carol by drawing clues on the paper. When all team members sing the carol together, the next team member races up, draws another slip of paper from the stocking, and continues.

Both teams race against each other to guess all the names of the carols in their stocking.

Idea from partygameideas.com

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