5 Creative Gift Exchange Themes to Liven Up Any Party

These creative gift exchange themes will take your party to the next level.

Recently, some friends invited us to a Harry Potter-themed party. They were very excited about it! My wife was very excited about it! I was very excited about… seeing people! But here’s the thing: I’ve never read Harry Potter. I only saw the first movie. Without any negative feelings toward it, it just wasn’t part of my life. 

So, I took a crash course. And you know what? I had a blast. I dressed as Sirius Black because I love Gary Oldman, and I have to say I pulled it off. It turns out I didn’t even need to be familiar with the theme to have fun at the party. 

We’ve talked about some gift exchange themes before, but I can’t just stop at five. Here are five more creative gift exchange themes to light up your next party. 

Five Creative Gift Exchange Themes 

There are two ways to have a gift exchange theme. Have a theme party where you exchange gifts or have a gift party with a theme. All of these can work in either direction. 

These also work for all ages. If there are children at the party, they can get cool gifts as well. And of course, these are just scaffolds: build your party around them in whatever way you see fit. 

And remember, nearly every party can be held remotely. Technology allows us to be together even when we can’t get together. 

Great Outdoors

As I see it, there are four out of five seasons to be outside. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Part of Winter (the 5th season, Chicago Winter, is strictly for indoors). So if you and your group love being outside, a Great Outdoors theme is always fun. Have a party at a campground, picnic area, by the lake, a field, or even just a backyard or parkway. 

If you aren’t able to hang out together, you can have everyone video in from their own backyards. Or, have people pick their outdoor-themed backgrounds on their chat app of choice. You can be on top of a mountain or even in space. 

You can easily have “great outdoor” gifts. These can range from survival kits to tents to hammocks. Being outside doesn’t have to mean roughing it; it just means enjoying it. 

Green Thumb Party

I love exchanging different kinds of plants, bushes, and seeds. This is a party you can have outside where you can plant or you can just have the party revolve around an eco-friendly theme. Either way, you’re leaving something better and creating great memories. You can exchange pictures of your plants throughout the years. 


I love a dinner party! I love having people over and cooking for them, whether it’s a fancy feast or a backyard BBQ. And I love to encourage people to pick cookbooks as gifts

What I like about this theme is that it spins off future parties. Did someone get a Cajun-themed book? Well, we’re doing gumbo at their place. Middle Eastern? Let’s get shawarma next Saturday. Retro? I’m ready to hop back to Americana classic. It gives us all a chance to broaden our skills and our horizons. 

This is an easy one to host remotely. After you send books, you can take turns doing mini cooking shows via video chat. Everyone gets to be their own Julia Child. 

It’s Magic!

Do you believe in magic? Maybe, maybe not. But like most people, you’re probably entertained by it. And you probably wish you could do it. Maybe you want to be David Blaine and perform impossible stunts or have the dry-witted prestidigitation wonders of the late Ricky Jay. Either way, people love a magic party. 

For this, have people dress up. Magicians have style and flair. Encourage people to bring tricks. Have them tell weird stories. Do incredible things with cards. And for the magic-themed gift exchange, people can get new magic sets or tricks. 

Back to the Future

You know what’s super modern? The past! I know that’s a silly statement, but we live in a weird time. We romanticize and celebrate the past, whether that’s the flapper 20s, the cool-kid 50s, or the grungy 90s (which some of us refuse to believe is actually the past; wasn’t that like 5 years ago?). 

Having a retro party is one of the most creative gift exchange ideas you can have. People have to think of what to wear, how to act, and what to bring. And they really have to think about appropriate gifts. A radio from the 30s? A sno-cone machine from the 60s? Tetris from the 80s? Or maybe you want to have it all be Stranger Things-themed.

What’s cool is that kids love this too. It’s dress-up, and it doesn’t matter if they weren’t born. After all, chances are you weren’t dancing in the 1920s. And if you were and still want to now? Well, I definitely want to be at a party with you! 

The Best Way to Throw Themed Gift Exchanges

If you want your theme party to have a gift exchange, make it as easy as possible for people to get their giftee, pick out their own gift, and buy for the other person. Basically, you want to run it like a Secret Santa. 

It’s best for this to use a Secret Santa generator. This online tool lets you assign names anonymously, create gift guides that match your theme, build your list online, and have your Secret Santa buy the gift with one click. It’s simple for everyone involved. 

After all, a theme party shouldn’t exclude people. It should be welcoming. It should help you share the joy. It should be about opening your gatherings to all the possibilities your imagination can come up with. If there is one overarching theme, it’s community.  

If you want to get the right gifts for your creative gift exchange theme, use a Secret Santa generator. With Elfster, you can easily pair people up, shop for gifts, and start a Wish List. Plus, you can access it all from an iPhone app or Android app

About Brian B 94 Articles
Brian thinks that giving someone a gift is just about the most fun you can have, so long as you don't stress out about finding the right one. He likes helping people not stress out during the holidays. Hit him up for ways to make your Christmas more fun.