Add a Yankee Swap to your gift giving to save money and have fun

FREE-FOR-ALL: Get ready for a lot of laughs and friendly family rivalry when you introduce a Yankee Swap to your Christmas gift giving, the only time when stealing presents from your family members is encouraged!
FREE-FOR-ALL: Get ready for a lot of laughs and friendly family rivalry when you introduce a Yankee Swap to your Christmas gift giving, the only time when stealing presents from your family members is encouraged!

I don’t know about you, but the kids in my family are all grown up and buying a present for everyone, even just a $20 gift each, is a burden.

About ten years ago when the last grandchild in my family turned 18 (i.e. me) we started doing a Secret Santa gift swap instead of getting everyone a gift.

It worked great at the time and to stop it from getting boring we added a quirky theme to the gift-giving each year, including but not limited to; items starting with the letter ‘S’, Christmas colours and even underwear.

That was the year my grandmother got a lovely floral dressing gown and one of my cousins got a light-up Rudolph jock strap, so you know, you win some, you lose some.

As years progressed some of my cousins started working over Christmas which meant this system no longer worked. That’s when we began doing a Yankee Swap.

The idea behind the Yankee Swap is similar to Secret Santa, however, you don’t draw a name, instead, you buy a gift which could be unisex, however, if you really want to buy that vanilla-scented candle, you go right on ahead.

As everyone enters the Christmas party they anonymously drop their gift off under the tree, when all the guests (and gifts) have arrived you count everyone up and place numbered cards (for example 1-20) into a hat and everyone takes their turn pulling out a number.

Number one has to go first (the most unlucky number) and number 20 goes last (the best position to be in).

Number one can now choose and open their gift from the pile.

Number two then has the opportunity to either steal number one’s gift (if it’s really good) or pick their own gift from the pile.

All opened gifts are able to be stolen, so number three can steal from number one and two, four can steal from one, two and three and so on up until number 20.

Then there is another round so number one has an opportunity to steal a gift if they don’t like the one they opened in the first round.

Then number two, three and so on. This is where the fun begins.

The best presents will get stolen over and over again by the numbers ahead of you which means you might get stuck with something bizarre.

Last year I made the rookie mistake of stealing off my uncle, who was number 20.

He stole it right back and I ended up with a box full of koala-themed home accessories (mug, placemat, etc.)

Granted, the Yankee Swap works quite well for my family because we’re all boisterous and have a sense of humour, but if you have a smaller family or an easily offended nanna it might be best to leave this one to the office.