It's Life tip tuesday

8 Tips on What to Buy for Gift Exchanges

November 1, 2016

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

  • Reply
    Alli Smith
    November 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Gift cards are usually what I give when I’m forced into an awkward gift exchange. I tend to overthink things so I take the easy way out. I also like the idea of baked goods. I can certainly do that one.

  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    November 2, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Gift cards are always a win in my eyes. If I have to buy an actual gift I make sure it is useful and something someone would like.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I have not done a gift exchange in years (work from home LOL), but these are good tips! I think the most useless gift I got was a dollar store item that was broke in a week. I like these ideas!

  • Reply
    Paula Schuck
    November 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Great tips. I ALWAYS do gift cards. It’s almost impossible to hit the mark with anything else.

  • Reply
    Jenn @ EngineerMommy
    November 2, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    These are great tips on how to handle gift exchanges. Gift cards are always a win in my book. It’s something that will always “fit”!

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Gift exchanges are so much fun but they can be tricky to buy for. These are good tips.

  • Reply
    November 2, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    What a great list of tips on how to buy for a gift exchange. I haven’t had to do that before, but now I know how to go about it properly when the time comes!

  • Reply
    Karen Clough
    November 2, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Great ideas! It’s so tricky, especially if you don’t know the person all too well. Sometimes you end up going generic just to play it safe

  • Reply
    Dawn McAlexander
    November 3, 2016 at 1:42 am

    It has been my experience that gift cards always work well. Everyone seems to appreciate them and most of the time you can’t go wrong with a gift card.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2016 at 1:47 am

    Great tips. I always struggle with gift ideas when it comes to non family members. I’m going to remember this.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2016 at 8:48 am

    We have one coming up for work so you literaelly just saved me hours of aimlessly walking around the shopping centre thinking of ideas!

  • Reply
    Nikka Shae
    November 3, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Yes, buying a lotto ticket is the beast thing if you don’t know what to get a person!

  • Reply
    November 3, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Such a great tips, Buying an exchange gift was my struggle on this season

  • Reply
    Chubskulit Rose
    November 3, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I always opt for something usable because you can’t really go wrong with it. I wish I can bake!

  • Reply
    Dina Demarest
    November 3, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    It’s so hard to figure out what to buy! We do this for family and not every gift is wanted. Great tips.

  • Reply
    November 3, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    These are great ideas. I hate gift exchanges anymore. The reason I live in the country and the shopping stinks.

  • Reply
    Bonnie @wemake7
    November 4, 2016 at 2:54 am

    What a really great and helpful post. I don’t think I have ever had a gift exchange but my mom does at work. I’ll share this with her.

  • Reply
    christina aliperti
    November 6, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Thanks for this. I always second guess myself when it comes to gift exchanges. I needed these tips.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Great tips.. I have not done a gift exchange in years! I always love gift cards!

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