How to Host a Yankee Swap Gift Exchange

Here in the UK, we have plenty of reasons to celebrate every year, from Easter holidays, to Christmas and New Year. However, there are always plenty of other things worth celebrating if you want an excuse to exchange some gifts and make your friends smile. One interesting concept that’s coming over into the UK from the USA lately, is the Yankee swap

You don’t need to be an actual Yankee to have fun with this unique event. Instead, all you need is an agreed budget, a group of friends ready to exchange gifts, and a day that you want to conduct your Yankee swap on. This could be the perfect way to bring together a group of people in just about any setting – even your office.

Let’s see what a Yankee swap is all about.

How Does the Yankee Swap Work?
A Yankee swap is a game combined with a gift exchange. The more people you can get involved, the more fun the experience becomes. Ideally, you’ll need a group of at least five or six people. To start, everyone in your group brings a wrapped gift with absolutely no label. It’s a good idea to set a budget for how much anyone can spend on their gift, and many people prefer to choose a theme too. For instance, you might stick to food-related gifts. 

After you’ve agreed on the rules beforehand and set a date for your swap, bring people together and ask everyone to place their wrapped present in a pile. Every participant should be able to see the pile of gifts. Everyone then draws a number from a hat to determine which order they should pick their gift in. Whoever draws the number one gift gets to choose first. 

After the first person opens a gift, the next person has the option to either open a new gift from the pile or take the existing gift that they know from the first player. If they decide to steal the gift, the player that lost their present can unwrap something new. 

This process continues through the whole group with each player. The third person can unwrap a new gift or steal one of the existing options, and so on. Remember that the person whose gift is taken can unwrap a new gift, but they can’t swap.

Different Ways to Play
One of the reasons why Yankee Swap is so popular, is that you can add your own changes to the rules. For instance, one variation to the rule is that once everyone has opened a gift, the first player then has the option to swap their gift with anyone else. 

This means that you can really pick any gift you choose. There’s also the option for player one to swap their gift with another person. The recipient can then choose whether to keep the new present or swap, and this continues until someone decides to keep what they’ve picked. 

To make the most of the game, it’s important to ensure that everyone makes the same amount of effort with their gift. UKGifts.co.uk has some great ideas if you’re struggling and choosing a budget that everyone feels comfortable with in the beginning ensures that everyone gets something of an equal value – so there’s no sore losers. The theme also means that you know what you’re likely to get is something you’ll enjoy. 

Making the Most of Yankee Swap
The gift exchange experience is supposed to be fun whether you’re doing it as part of a game or not. Try not to take the whole experience too seriously, or this could ruin the game. If you get a terrible gift, laugh it off, and hope that next time you’re going to be luckier. To prevent too many unhappy attendees, you should probably encourage people to bring gifts that other people would actually want. 

If you’re not sure what kind of present you should take to Yankee swap, it might be worth thinking of products that you know most people would enjoy. For instance, you could go for a new coffee pot, or a set of scented candles. The gift you offer at a Yankee swap with a group of children is probably going to be a little different to the one you’d bring to a swap where you’re exchanging presents with colleagues. 

Done right, this can be a fun way to spend time with your loved ones and make some memories. Just try not to take anything too seriously!

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