Category: 

What Is an Ornament Exchange?

A Christmas tree with ornaments.
An ornament exchange among friends and coworkers can be a fun holiday activity.
Some group prefer exchanging handmade ornaments.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
A worker bee produces one-twelfth of a teaspoon (0.4 mL) of honey in its lifetime.  more...

August 31 ,  1897 :  Thomas Edison patented the first movie projector.  more...

An ornament exchange is a gift exchange of holiday ornaments held within a group of people such as a group of friends, a family, or members of a club or organization. Ornament exchanges are often held in the form of holiday parties, with the ornament exchange being a focal point of the party. They can also be held as a long-distance affair, or as a special type of Secret Santa in a family, office, or school.

The idea behind an ornament exchange, no matter how it is organized, is that everyone brings one ornament to the exchange, and takes another away. In some groups, the ornaments are hand-crafted, but it is also common to see exchanges of commercially produced ornaments, heirloom ornaments, or antiques. Usually, a basic standard of cost and style is set, to ensure that all of the ornaments are roughly similar.

Ad

When people hold a party featuring an ornament exchange, there are a number of ways to organize the exchange. Classically, everyone draws a number upon arrival, and numbers his or her ornament with a random number as well. When the exchange begins, the person with the number one opens the ornament with the same number, and the person with the number two can either open the ornament labeled "two," or "steal" the first ornament, forcing the first person to choose another ornament. Limits may be placed on the number of times an ornament changes hands, and as a variation, the number system may be abandoned, and people may just pick wrapped ornaments at random.

In other ornament exchanges, all of the ornaments are unwrapped and displayed, and people bid for them in some way, getting a chance to see all of the ornaments and make a choice. In these cases, people may bring multiple ornaments so that everyone has a shot at his or her first pick. Individual groups may develop their own traditions and methods for settling disputes.

In addition to the exchange, the holiday party also usually features holiday foods, music, dancing, and other holiday-related games and events. The party is typically designed in such a way that it is fun for people of all ages to participate. The casual atmosphere makes it a good setting for a mixed group.

An ornament exchange may also be done by mail, in which case people draw or are assigned names of people to send ornaments to, and they receive ornaments from other people in the group. Online communities sometimes do this as a way of fostering friendships between community members. Ornament exchanges can also be worked into a blind Secret Santa exchange, for groups of friends, family members, and coworkers who participate in such exchanges.

Ad

Discuss this Article

widget2010
Post 2

I have some friends with whom I do an ornament exchange every year. Not new ornaments, usually, but just the same ones we have always had- we will each pick one, put it in a box, and trade them. It makes everyone's tree a little different each year, and it helps you get less tired of the same ornaments every year.

sherlock87
Post 1

Ornament exchanges can be really fun for kids in school, especially if you assign them to make one themselves; it's really interesting to see what they come up with, and how it could be different for an elementary school class or a high school class.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email