The exchange can be a simple grab bag arrangement, where all the gifts are placed in a large bin and each person pulls one out, or it can be set up as a "Yankee Swap" (aka "Chinese Auction") in which numbers are drawn out of a hat. The person with number one chooses and unwraps a gift. Number Two then chooses; if Two prefers One's gift, they swap. This procedure continues for everyone at the gathering until the very last, with each successive number having the option to choose from all of the previous gifts. You will see that the Kiehl's bath and body set is frequently commandeered, whilst the reindeer embossed dishtowels languish disconsolately with their unlucky recipient.
After all guests have drawn and opened their gifts, Number One resurfaces and has free range to pick any of the gifts in the room. (In case you are wondering, Two is the least advantageous number in this setup; I ended up with a Wham's greatest hits CD last year as a result of my unfortunate lottery draw.)
In order to avoid this cruel fate (or to be labeled as the person with the worst taste in the crowd,) here are some suggestions for modestly priced gifts that will be frequently swapped and swiped...
- Itunes or Starbucks gift card
- Bottle of Champagne and non alcoholic cider for New Years Eve
- Gourmet coffee/tea
- selection of mustards or hot sauces
- Hand cream and anti bacterial hand gel
- fleece or cashmere gloves
- scarf and/or hat
- bath/body products and/or hair products
- olive oil/balsamic vinegar
- christmas ornament
- books (this can be risky, pick a recently published award winner.)
- magazine subscription of recipient's choice
- scented candles
And nobody does these like "The Office"....I suggest avoiding the holiday oven mitt!