How to Host a Thriftmas Gift Exchange

by | Nov 8, 2023

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his holiday season, why not embrace the spirit of thriftiness and creativity by organizing a event where everyone can find unique and budget-friendly gifts? It’s great for your bank account and wallet too! To make your party planning easier I put together this handy guide. Read on to learn how to host a thriftmas gift exchange this Christmas!

Before we dive in, though, we should probably cover the basics first.

What is a Thriftmas Gift Exchange?

You might have already guessed it but thriftmas is a portmanteau of “thrift” and “Christmas” – meaning a gift exchange for the holidays comprised of thrifted gifts! It’s a great way to exchange gifts with friends and family members on a budget while also being more eco-friendly in your holiday shopping.

Thriftmas can be buying second hand gifts to give on their own or upcycling them in new and creative ways! I’m a big believer in thrifting Christmas gifts.

If you’re thinking about hosting a thriftmas gift exchange this year here’s some tips to help you get started.

Choosing a Theme

Woman choosing gifts from an antique store

To add an extra element of excitement and creativity to your Thriftmas gift exchange, consider selecting a theme. Whether it’s “Retro Revival” or “Homemade and Handcrafted,” having a theme will guide participants in finding gifts that align perfectly with the chosen concept. It will also ensure a more cohesive and memorable experience for all!

Setting a Budget

Holiday budget papers with money and Christmas decorations on top

One of the main advantages of hosting a Thriftmas gift exchange is the opportunity to save money while still giving thoughtful gifts. To keep the playing field level, it’s important to establish a budget that everyone can comfortably adhere to. By setting a monetary limit, you’ll encourage inventiveness and resourcefulness when searching for treasures at thrift stores, flea markets, or even from items lying around the house!

Send Invites Out Early

Female hand signs a festive envelope.

You won’t be able to pick up a last minute gift for this one so it’s best to give guests plenty of time to prepare their gifts. Especially if people will be making DIY projects with their thriftmas finds! To stay with the spirit of the theme, send invitations out digitally. Or even better, consider thrifting some Christmas cards and hand writing the details inside.

Creative Gift Wrapping

Girl holds a wonderful naturally wrapped gift

Part of the joy of receiving a gift is the anticipation built up before unwrapping it. Get creative with your gift wrapping to add an extra layer of excitement! Instead of traditional wrapping paper, consider using newspaper, old maps, or even fabric scraps to give your presents a distinctive and eco-friendly touch. And don’t forget to finish off each gift with a personal note or handmade card.

The White Elephant Twist

Pair of people exchanging a gift that's funny while wearing ugly Christmas sweaters

Looking for a little bit of playful chaos during your Thriftmas gift exchange? Consider incorporating a White Elephant-style twist. Each participant brings a wrapped gift without specifying who it’s intended for. Then, through a series of rounds, they have the opportunity to steal gifts from one another, leading to hilarious moments and unexpected surprises. Just remember to establish some ground rules to ensure everyone has a fair chance to participate!

Thriftmas DIY Challenges

Handmade Christmas oranments

If your group enjoys some friendly competition, organizing Thriftmas DIY challenges can be a fantastic addition to the gift exchange. Set specific criteria for each participant, such as creating a unique piece of jewelry or repurposing an item into something new and exciting. Award prizes for the most creative, most thoughtful, or simply the funniest creations. These challenges will not only inspire resourcefulness but also provide memorable experiences for all.

Creating Memories with Potluck

Eating at a potluck dinner

To make your Thriftmas gift exchange even more special, consider hosting a potluck alongside the event. Encourage participants to bring homemade dishes or their favorite holiday recipes to share with others. This way, you’ll create a warm and inclusive atmosphere while enjoying delicious food together. After all, what better way to celebrate the holiday season than by bonding over great food and great company?

Get Thrifty With the Decor

Woman making handmade christmas wreath.

The great thing about a thriftmas party is that you can thrift almost everything to make your party a success. Shop second hand stores or free giveaways for holiday decor that you can use for your party. Other easy to thrift party must haves include serving ware, extra glasses, and tablecloths. You can also repurpose decorations from around your house to make the party space more festive.

Make a Kid-Friendly Version

Two girls in the forest on a snowy frosty winter day exchange Christmas gifts.

This party idea works for kids too! You’d be amazed at how much kids of all ages get into a thrifted Christmas gift giving. Yes, they might need a little help making good selections and creating upcycled masterpieces, but you should also let the kids get creative and plan their gift giving out themselves. This is also a great way to teach some important skills like working within a budget and thinking about others.

Donating to Charity

Items in a box that says donation on it.

Finally, spread the holiday cheer beyond your Thriftmas gift exchange by encouraging participants to donate any unclaimed gifts or unwanted items to local charities. This act of giving back will not only help those in need but also remind us all of the true meaning of the holiday season.

So, there you have it – our ultimate guide to hosting a Thriftmas gift exchange! Embrace the joy of thriftiness and creativity this year by organizing a memorable event filled with meaningful gifts. Remember, it’s not about how much money is spent, but about the thought and care put into each present. Happy Thriftmas!

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