Gift Exchange: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Looking for fresh inspiration for giving to friends? Try a gift exchange this Christmas season! Here are some tips from Josie Ortega that will help you pitch the idea to your friends.

Before Oprah created shopping frenzies with her annual Favorite Things show, Julie Andrews sang about “Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens.” And today, the Favorite Things concept has taken on yet another life of its own in the form of the gift exchange.

Gift Exchanges: Dirty Santa, White Elephant, Yankee Swap

Organized gift exchanges offer a great way to cut down on the stress and expense of finding gifts for everyone in a group. Instead of purchasing for each and every family member or coworker, you might draw names for something like Secret Santa or Secret Angel. Then you’re responsible for only one person’s gift.

My mom’s book club has enjoyed their ornament swap for many years running. And once, during our family’s Dirty Santa gift exchange – also known as Yankee Swap or White Elephant gift exchange in some regions – the intensity rose to a level at which, somehow, the trunk of a decorative wooden elephant punched my younger brother in the face.

My latest preference is the Favorite Things gift exchange, which need not get so heated. It’s perfect for a handful of friends to enjoy time together during the holiday season while still bagging fun new goodies.

How to Have a Favorite Things Gift Exchange

Here’s how it worked for me. We regularly get together for a little holiday party with three other families — basically our Urban Family. The moms in the group scheduled our own time for holiday festivities and agreed to make it a Favorite Things gift exchange for the second year in a row.

The four of us each began thinking about small items that we’ve loved this year for gift ideas, little things that make life better. We chose a dollar limit, maybe $10 or even $5. (Gifts for three close friends for $15? A total bargain.)

I bought three of the same item for our exchange. There’s no need to tax our Mom Brains with creative, individualized gifts — and wrapped them. At our exchange, we took turns opening one friend’s presents all at the same time, while the gift giver explained why she chose that item and why she loves it.

Each of us left with three special little treats, plus the joy of hanging out together and maybe even learning something new about what makes our friends tick.

Gift Exchange: Give Me the Good Stuff

Are you still wondering what this actually looks like?

Here are the favorites we brought to the table this year:

  • From the fun Bachelor/-ette fan: blue nail polish wonderfully named “Fantasy Suite.”
  • From the hydrated friend: a colorful tumbler to get our “bevy-train “ going.  [My beverage train: coffee to LaCroix to wine . . . what’s yours?]
  • From the stylish friend: a trendy leather cuff that goes with everything.
  • From the Nun in Another Life: a sand timer. [Excellent for meditation, or kid timeouts.]

Other gift exchange ideas might include a great chapstick, lotion, a candle, trendy hair ties, an awesome pen, earrings, paper clips, chocolates. These ideas are similar to what you might put in a stocking or Easter basket. But with the added benefit that they’ve been tested and tried and found to be, in fact, someone’s Favorite Thing.

If you’re wondering whether this Christmas gift exchange idea only applies to the ladies, there’s no need for limitations! The husbands in our group came up with their particular version. Everyone brings a six-pack of beer; they trade them around; go home with a variety pack.

Honestly, the wives spend a much longer time chatting about our selections that the husbands do. What’s more important is that we laugh together and enjoy learning what each friend loves.

What is Purim?

All About the Jewish Holiday of Purim

The Jewish holiday of Purim is full of feasting and fun. Learn about this holiday’s history and its unique traditions ...
Mexican holiday traditions like Cinco de Mayo

Why We Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Every family can celebrate Cinco de Mayo, learning about Mexican-American culture while sharing great food, music, and family togetherness ...
Mother's Day Gifts on a budget

The Best Ideas for No or Low Cost Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother's Day gifts don't have to cost a fortune! Get some inspiration with these low-budget ideas for your mom! ...
sale for back-to-school-shopping

5 Tips for Back-to-School Shopping on a Budget

From pencils and notebooks to shoes and clothes, back-to-school shopping is expensive! Here are some money-saving tips so your child ...