Last weekend, we had some friends over. One of them was my oldest friend. We’ve been hanging out since we were wee lads, so for more than 30 years. We practically have our own language. At one point, we started to do a whole bit, as we tend to do, and his wife just turned to mine and said, “When they get like this, I just let them go.”
That’s the thing about friends: you have your jokes, your stories, your sad times, and your fond memories. That shared history informs all your interactions.
And it absolutely informs your gift exchanges. You can really pick out something great for your friends because you know them so well. This is even true—maybe especially true—for a themed gift exchange.
Gift exchange themes revolve around a topic or a type of gift. It’s a fun challenge that brings out your creativity. Here are a few ideas for gift exchange themes for friends.
Why Gift Exchange Themes for Friends are Great
Themed gift exchanges can be a blast, whether it’s for a work party, a family gathering, or a group of friends.
With friends, you’ve all chosen to be together. Often, you have similar tastes, senses of humor, and reference points. Not that you’re clones; far from it. But there’s a common vibe throughout any group of friends. That’s why a theme can work great for a group of friends. You have a really great starting point for finding a theme everyone will love.
The Top 7 Gift Exchange Themes for Friends
Not sure what your theme should be? Here are some ideas. Feel free to use any and all of these, riff on them, or use them as inspiration for your own theme.
- Travel. If you have friends who loves to see the world, travel gifts are a great idea. You can get everything from theft-proof bags to travel-sized perfumes to a hoodie that has a neck pillow.
- Home Decor. You know each other’s homes. You know what your friends need. You know their tastes as well as your own. That’s why home decor gifts can work. From candle holders to vases to wall art, give them something that will remind them of you.
- The Kitchen. If your friends are like mine, they love to cook. Baking goods, appliances, gadgets, cookbooks; those are all gifts that are both practical and fun. A kitchen themed party is also the best way to make sure there will be more dinner parties.
- Star Wars. Two words: Baby. Yoda. Do I need to say more? If your friends long for a galaxy far, far away, a Star Wars themed gift exchange is a perfect way to celebrate that fandom. It doesn’t have to be Star Wars, of course: Harry Potter, Avengers, Fellini; anything you all love can be a theme.
- COMFY! Did I need to capitalize and exclamation mark that one? Yes. Your Secret Santa is probably in the winter. It’s cold and dark. What better way to spread more warmth than to exchange gifts with a comfy theme? Socks, sweaters, blankets, slankets, slippers… if it’s warm, it’s ready to be exchanged.
- Ugly Christmas. Ugly sweaters and socks are as much a part of the holidays as snow and overplayed songs. Why not celebrate it? Have an ugly sweater party where you can exchange all sorts of other tacky wonders. Remember, the only forbidden thing is taste.
- Ornaments. One of our prized ornaments is one a friend got for our wedding. It’s sweet and simple, and we think of them every time we put it on the tree. If you’re exchanging gifts, why not give them something that lasts? An ornament gift exchange party is a way to swap more than gifts; it’s a way to create memories.
Okay, so those are some ideas for what kind of gift exchange theme you and your friends can have… but how do you actually make it happen?
How to Manage a Themed Gift Exchange
The first thing you need to do is find a free online Secret Santa platform that can connect everyone. The easier and more comprehensive, the better. Make sure everyone knows how to play, too: tips for Secret Santa organizers and participants are always a good refresher course.
From there, you can choose a theme. This might come easily or you might struggle to come up with one. That’s where the platform can really be helpful. An online gift guide with categories and filters can give you a ton of ideas.
What’s more, once you have that theme, participants can make their Secret Santa wish list directly from the guide. All they have to do is click the “wish” button on the item, and it’ll go on their list. Their Secret Santa can then buy directly from the list. It’s easy and fast for everyone.
In the end, of course, it doesn’t matter what your theme is. What matters is that you share it together. What matters is that you join as friends to exchange those inside jokes, tell those same stories, and make each other happy just by being near. The theme is a celebration of who you are. No matter what form, the theme is always friendship.
When you’re having a gift exchange with your friends, you want a Secret Santa generator that makes everything go smoothly. Elfster makes it easy to pair people up, shop for gifts, and start a Wish List. Plus, you can access it all from an iPhone app or Android app.