Gift exchanges can be extremely awkward and difficult. These often happen at places of employment, distant relative get togethers, etc. You often end up with something you truly don’t want and then have to act like you’re in love with it. There’s nothing worse than these parties. However, they truly can be fun and I think the best way to ensure they’re fun is to get a sensible gift. None of us are ever sure of what to buy for these things but there are always certain gifts that do well and everyone will like without having to fake it. So, here are eight tips to help you find a gift for these awkward gift exchanges.


Age Appropriate – Take notice of the age that is going to be most represented at the party. If there’s an even mix of ages, take note of this as well. Getting a gift that matches the age range is a smart place to start. You don’t want to get a bottle of wine if there are mostly underage folks going to be there. Especially because most of the time the gifts are done by numbers and not by a name given to you.

Don’t Overthink It – You definitely know what I’m talking about. You try to mull the gift over in your head and can never quite settle on one because you just aren’t sure of what to expect. This doesn’t call for an extravagant gift. Filling a bag with packages of gum has been a hit at past parties I’ve attended. A gift doesn’t have to be a thoughtful one.

Make It Useful – Just like the gum, make the gift something people will actually use. Most people like gum and keep it on them or near them at all times. Therefore, the reason why it went over well is because it wasn’t a random run of the mill gift. It was out of the ordinary but something someone would use.

When in Doubt Bake – Hey, even if you’re a guy, it’s not hard to buy some cookie dough from the store and slap it on a pan. Everybody loves food, especially a good cookie. I promise you that their face will light up over cookies rather than an empty decorative Christmas platter.

When in Doubt Buy a Lottery Ticket – Some people aren’t comfortable buying these and that’s perfectly understandable. However, if you are comfortable buying them, they are always a big hit at parties. I’ve only ever seen them given twice and both times they went over really well. It’s easy, cheap, and definitely an excitement to receive.

When in Doubt Buy a Gift Card – Who doesn’t enjoy getting a free pass to get food, shop at Walmart, etc.? It’s not a cop-out at all and it’s a very useful gift that transcends all ages. It’s a worry-free gift that I guarantee will please whoever gets it and make jealousy rise in whoever didn’t get it.

When in Doubt Give Money – Sometimes these exchanges will have a money limit put on them for the gifts. If so, give this amount in cash and you will be one of the prime gift givers. It’s nice to get cash or gift cards because then you can actually purchase something you need or want instead of getting a gift that is a stereotypical Christmas gift that most people don’t ever end up using.

Don’t Worry About Giving Typical Gifts – There are always the same gifts given every year at parties. You know, the stereotypical Christmas gift that many people feel obligated to buy. Don’t’ be afraid to step out of those and give something different. I promise people won’t give you a bad look unless it’s something ridiculous and THEN you might get odd looks. Anyways, give something useful or give something that would really make you happy to get at one of these parties and you’re set to go.

8 Tips on What to Buy for Gift Exchanges

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