Every year, my wife and I host a Christmas party. We’ve got a playlist with both classics and obscure novelty songs, all the lights, a tree, eggnog, the whole nine yards. Over the years, it’s become a favorite tradition among our friends and family.
But last year, as we were making the playlist, we started talking about how weird it was that we only had Christmas music. After all, there are a lot of different holidays towards the end of the year. And our friend group wasn’t made up exclusively of people who celebrate Christmas. There are a lot of traditions we weren’t incorporating.
When you’re having a party or gift exchange, whether at work or your house, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Indeed, there are a lot of holidays you can celebrate. I think it makes things more fun and welcoming for everyone.
So, our gift exchange is going to be more inclusive this year. Here are some of our top winter holiday gift exchange ideas to make your party a success for everyone.
What an Inclusive Party Means
When I told an acquaintance that we were having a more inclusive party, he cynically smirked and said that we “weren’t celebrating anything.” That’s actually the opposite of what it means. It means celebrating everything and, indeed, everyone.
This is a good practice in general but especially at work. Everyone deserves to be celebrated, and no one deserves to have their culture treated like an oddity or something they have to hide. Even if you don’t mean it that way, having a party where one tradition dominates makes it harder for someone to be themselves.
Besides, this is way more fun. I don’t know about you, but I love learning new things. I love being exposed to different cultures, backgrounds, traditions, and ideas. It’s what makes life exciting.
Inclusive Winter Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas
Some of the holidays we celebrate in winter include:
- Winter Solstice (Dec 21st)
- This marks the beginning of winter and is the longest night of the year. It’s celebrated in many traditional cultures and religions across the world.
- Hanukkah (Dec 22nd-30th)
- A celebration of the Jewish victory over the Seleucids in the 2nd century BC, where a single candle gave light for eight days. It’s a story of triumph and renewal.
- Christmas (Dec 25th)
- Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, this is one of the two highest Holy Days in the Christian faith and the most celebrated holiday in the United States.
- Kwanzaa (Dec 26th-Jan 1st)
- A celebration of culture, heritage, and home, this African-American holiday is a blend of many traditional celebrations in Africa. It’s about unity and strength.
All of these events stem from rich cultural traditions and there are a lot of cool things to learn about them. Having an inclusive party can help you discover even more facets of these holidays. Here are some ideas for having a more inclusive gift exchange this holiday season.
Have Each Participant Talk About How They Celebrate
If you want to learn something, ask someone. At our office, for instance, when a Secret Santa gift is exchanged, the recipient does more than guess who sent it. They also talk for a minute about their holiday traditions.
Now, this could mean talking about what Christmas or Hanukkah means to them, about the way their family celebrates the Solstice, or sharing a story from the Kwanzaa tradition. Maybe they’ll tell a personal story or a classic tale. This encourages openness and spurs conversation, helping everyone get to know each other better.
Make a Shared Playlist
I love music. Most people do. And most people complain about hearing the same 15-20 songs every December. Well, here’s a surprise: you don’t have to! In fact, you can listen to music the entire month and never hear “Jingle Bell Rock” (although just typing that put it in both our heads).
There’s a whole world of music out there, and you can create a shared playlist so people can add their favorite songs from their traditions. You’ll hear songs you’ve never heard before. You’ll be able to talk to people about why they like certain songs rather than just saying, “Oh yeah, this song again.”
Share Gift-Giving Traditions
Most traditions incorporate gift-giving for the holidays. That makes sense: it’s the end of the harvest and we’re together with friends and family and food. We’re celebrating, and that means sharing gifts with loved ones.
That’s why you can take advantage of a wide range of gift-giving ideas, from the items you buy to the way you handle a gift exchange. That could mean:
- Giving presents in different ways (like incorporating Hanukkah gift-giving traditions).
- Give gifts from different backgrounds (a Kwanzaa gift list could mean items that commemorate the virtues celebrated in Kwanzaa).
- Give gifts from your tradition (like Yule-Tide folk tales).
You can also mix these up and have a hodge-podge of a gift exchange. It’s not about perfect balance; it’s about creating an evening where everyone feels welcome.
Make Secret Santa Secret for Everyone
Look, we obviously love Secret Santa. We think it’s a great way to bring everyone together no matter what you celebrate. We think using a Secret Santa generator makes for effortless fun. We think Secret Santa reveals are incredibly exciting. We love everything about Secret Santa.
But we’re not totally wedded to the name.
You don’t have to call it a Secret Santa for a gift exchange to work. We’re not saying you need to name it Secret Solstice or anything. Indeed, you don’t have to call it anything except a gift exchange. As long as you can generate a wish list, explain how to play, stay anonymous, and guess who your mysterious gift-giver is, you have everything you need.
Make it easy for everyone. Make it fun for everyone. And most of all, just make your gift exchange for everyone. That’s what inclusivity means.
Inclusive Gift Exchanges are the Spirit of the Season
Having a gift exchange doesn’t have to be hard. With the right tools, it’s as easy as it is fun. And it’s just as easy to involve a range of winter holidays
An inclusive winter holiday party means bringing together a bountiful harvest from around the world. It means having a party for everyone and by everyone. It means knowing people better. And that’s a gift that never goes away.
Elfster is here to help you host an inclusive gift exchange. Our Secret Santa generator draws names and makes it easy to start a Wish List. And for maximum convenience, you can also play on an iPhone app or Android app.