Christmas gift exchanges are wonderful ways to spend time together during the holidays. Gift exchanges are a great way of bringing family members together.

The challenge comes with setting the theme or focus for your Christmas gift exchange. If you do the same thing each year, people will get bored and stop participating. Without changing things up every few years, the gift exchanges become gift card exchanges, which are not so fun, well in my opinion anyway. So one person must come up with the theme idea.

At my wife’s big family get together last year, we all brought a one-pound gift. The gifts were distributed. Then the story featuring Mr. Right who left the room and went right to bed (well, you get the idea) was read to the exchange of the gifts. People were laughing and joking as people attempted to remember which was their right and left hand as the gifts were passed in the circle. It worked wonderfully. It was really fun to see the creativity in the gift giving. One person gave a pound of pennies, while another gave a one pound piece of money. Another gave a bag of chips and salsa. Talk about variety. And not to forget, my special gift, which was one pound of spam. Of course, everyone secretly wished they had received that gift.

So to help your Christmas season be a season of joy and not stress, I have gathered some Christmas exchange ideas for you.

1. The One pound gift is a real favorite of mine

2. $3 funny card (you could set any dollar amount)

3. $5 dollar store or goodwill purchase

One year a person found a heated toilet seat in this themed exchange.

4. Dinner in a dish where the person brings a recipe with the majority of the ingredients to make the dish

5. Ornament exchange with a dollar amount

6. Entertainment theme – books, cds, movies

7. Set a letter of the alphabet that the gift has to start with (We have not done this exchange yet but I think it would be very fun.)

8. Charity exchange where each person would put in his or her favorite charity with the contact information. The person who drew the slip of paper would be expected to give a donation to the charity. Another version of the charity idea is something my wife’s family as done. Her sister died young due to colon cancer. The family started a scholarship fund in her sister’s memory. There is an envelope under the tree each year for family member to add to the scholarship fund.

So whether you decide to go with a more meaningful gift or more to the wacky and fun, have fun with your Christmas exchange this year. The real importance is to have fun with those that are important to you.