There were doughnuts everywhere. Garlands of paper doughnuts in festive colors hung from the ceiling, doughnut ornaments graced the boughs of the Christmas tree, and doughnut-themed cups and plates sat stacked at the snack station. The piece de resistance was the doughnut wall which is just what it sounds like—a wall with fresh, gourmet doughnuts hung all over it.
I’d spent all November planning an office gift exchange party for my coworkers, and my vision had finally come to life. The theme, as you’ve probably guessed, was doughnuts, chosen because my coworkers are crazy for this deep-fried American delicacy.
Every year I look forward to organizing our office party gift exchange. My coworkers let me take the reins with the planning, but they always have a request—it has to be hilarious. By the end of the year, they are tired from all the hard work and long hours they’ve put in at the office, and all they want is a good laugh.
Thankfully humor is my strong suit—especially when it comes to gift exchanges. So, throughout my many years of party planning, I’ve come up with a bunch of hilarious office party gift exchange ideas that are sure to have you and your office mates in stitches.
Wild and Wacky Gift Exchange Themes
Most gift exchanges start with a fun theme that dictates the kind of gifts everyone will buy. I suggest getting your coworkers to pitch potential themes, then having everyone vote for their favorite. It’s a great way to get people involved and excited about the upcoming festivities.
Here are a few gift exchange theme ideas for your next office party:
- Goofy Games: For this theme, everyone must bring a super silly game as a gift. Pie Face Game, Say Anything, and Snake Oil are a few ideas to get your coworkers giggling. This theme is extra fun because once everyone opens their presents, you can play the games all night long!
- Funny ornaments: Ever see a hilarious Christmas ornament you would love to buy as a joke for someone? Now’s your chance. Have everyone bring a chuckle-worthy ornament and watch as each person opens theirs. Afterwards, everyone can decorate the office tree with them!
- Handmade puppets: For this theme, everyone has to bring a handmade puppet for their giftee, one that reflects who they are in some way. For the rest of the party, everyone has to use their puppets to talk. You might want to get some footage of this to screen at meetings when the mood gets too heavy!
- American pickers: Do you have an item in your home that you absolutely despise? Perhaps it’s that puce sweater your Aunt Ruth gave you for your birthday or a hideous set of coasters you’ve never used. Whatever it is, have everyone bring an item they want to get rid of instead of buying a gift. It can be hilarious to see how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
While a theme isn’t necessary, if you decide to have one, just be sure everyone is aware what the theme is and who they are buying for. A great way to do this is by using an online gift exchange program that not only allows you to send invites with all the details but also automatically assigns Secret Santas!
Fun Twists on Your Typical Rules
Once you’ve settled on the theme and sent the invites, it’s time to consider the gift exchange rules. Here are my favorite fun twists on the typical Secret Santa game:
• White elephant: If you and your coworkers love to snag each other’s staplers or steal each other’s coffee mugs, this gift exchange game is for you! Have everyone bring a wrapped, anonymous gift to the party and draw numbers from a hat to determine the order in which people will select gifts. The person who drew #1 will select a gift first, unwrapping it immediately and showing it to the group. The person who drew #2 decides whether they want to choose a new gift or steal the gift from person #1. The game continues in this fashion until everyone has had a turn to unwrap or steal. It’s a hoot as is, but if you really want to get crazy, try one of these many White Elephant variations.
• Hot potato: You probably played this game as a kid. Turns out, it’s a blast for adults too—especially when presents are involved! Have everyone bring a wrapped or unwrapped gift (your choice). Place the gifts on the floor in a pile and have everyone sit in a circle around them. Choose one gift to start with, set a timer, and pass the gift around the circle until the timer goes off. Whoever is holding the gift keeps it and leaves the circle. Continue with the remaining gifts until everyone has something. You’ll feel just like a kid again!
• Office hide and seek: Offices aren’t only for work, they’re for play as well—at least that’s the name of this gift exchange game! Divide your coworkers into two teams—the hiders and the seekers. The hiders will hide with the gift they brought, then the seekers search for them. When a seeker finds a hider, they get to open their gift. Once everyone has been found, the hiders become the seekers. This is an especially fun gift exchange game for large groups!
Remember, rules are made to be broken! Don’t be afraid to come up with your own versions of the rules listed above for a unique office party experience.
Office Party Gift Exchange Ideas for Goofy Gifts to Make Everyone Laugh
Over my many years of gift exchange planning, I’ve realized that almost everyone struggles with buying gifts. Having a theme is really helpful for this, but if you don’t have one, I recommend buying something funny. Humorous gifts are great for office parties because they break the ice and make everyone laugh!
My fun-loving coworkers have brought some hilarious gifts to our exchanges over the years, so I’ve got a few good suggestions up my sleeve:
- A coffee mug with a silly quote for the office clown
- Glitter pills for the team cheerleader
- A yodeling pickle for the workplace songstress
- Bacon toothpaste for the resident Paleo fanatic
- A squishy brain stress ball for the department worry wart
I find that when I am drawing a blank, using an online gift guide for inspiration can be quite helpful.
No matter what theme you end up setting, what rules you end up creating, or what gift you end up buying, the most important thing is that you just have fun! Gift exchanges are a wonderful way to bring a team closer together, creating a better work environment for everyone. So, put on your ugly Christmas sweater, connect with coworkers on a personal level, and enjoy the warmth of the festive season—and maybe even a doughnut or two.
Start an online gift exchange with Elfster and have a blast with your coworkers at this year’s holiday party. Share your favorite party stories with Elfster on Facebook, on Twitter @Elfster, or on Instagram @Elfster.