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Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments

I want to tell you all about our Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments edition and hopefully give you some gift ideas to incorporate into your next holiday season! Every year The Golden Girls get together for a fun ornament exchange over a great meal. (If you are wondering who the Golden Girls are, let me take a moment to introduce you.)

The “Golden Girls” is a nickname for my friend group. There are four of us and we are best friends. We love to spend time trying new foods, traveling to new places, and making new traditions together. Several years back we decided to do an annual Christmas celebration that would be unique to our friend group. A yearly tradition for us to look forward to and a special time for us to celebrate each other and our friendship.

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A group picture of the Golden Girls at Charity's house.

So let me tell you a little bit more about the “Golden Girls”. There are four of us and we “kind of” grew up together. I say “kind of” because the twins and Charity went to church and school together their entire lives. I didn’t enter the equation until I was about 13 years old. Since I moved a lot as a kid and came from a divorced home, I was often between houses. I only say that to say this, I was around, but not ALWAYS around. (LOL) 

Even though we were all in the same vicinity, we didn’t necessarily hang out when we were growing up. Our friendship, at least for me, has been something that has blossomed in adulthood. We have drawn closer together as life has rocked on. We’ve laughed together, cried together, prayed together, celebrated together, and learned to lean on one another for support in trying times.

A group picture of the Golden Girls outdoors.

Now onto the details of this annual ornament exchange. We knew that we wanted to start a Christmas tradition and tried making candy together but that didn’t seem to be the way to go for us. It was fun but it was also a lot of work. So, we quickly moved on to a different idea. We knew that we wanted to visit but we also wanted a unique twist to go with our meal. And a gift exchange is such an obvious choice but with all of the holiday parties at our workplaces and church, that seemed redundant. 

Then someone had a brilliant idea!

We could do an ornament exchange!

I’m not sure who came up with the idea to exchange ornaments, but it seemed to be the perfect fit. It wouldn’t cost a ton of money. It would be thoughtful, useful, and festive. And we always look forward to seeing what unique ornaments we will have to add to our family trees.

I bought a little Christmas tree one year and called it my “friend” tree just to showcase the ornaments from this event over the years. It’s so special to walk by this tree and be reminded of all the good times and also see the changing trends and styles from years past.

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Another thing that we incorporate into our annual ornament gift exchange is drawing for our restaurant, shopping, and dessert. It adds a “surprise” element to what would otherwise be a very predictable night. We all choose whatever places we are feeling that day and then I write all of the choices on notecards that are a bunch of fun colors. Whenever we meet at the beginning of the night at Charity’s house (ALWAYS), we draw for the restaurant first. This gets us on our way and kicks off our night with a lot of laughs about whoever’s restaurant was chosen. (Last year, Kayla’s picks won in every category!)

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments collage of what the Golden girls wore for the night.

After dinner, we always draw for the place that we want to shop at. We can go to more than one place and we usually do, but the place that is chosen is first and it’s the priority. (Where we live, things close down pretty early, so there’s no guarantee that we will be able to shop multiple places and sometimes even our first pick is not open.)

After shopping until we drop, we draw for dessert. This might be the most challenging of the draws because I’m not crazy about dessert in general or ice cream, and that seems to be the only thing available in our area.

(I would LOVE a good piece of pie!)

One year, just to get me some pie, we all went to Waffle House late in the night for coffee and pecan pie. It’s truly the little things that make the biggest difference. Friends that will go to great lengths to find you a piece of pie. We laughed so much because they pulled the slice of pie out of a Marie Calendar’s box in the freezer and placed it on a saucer. (HA)

Pictures of the Golden Girls together.

Tips for Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments:

  • If you are concerned about people getting ornaments that are different in terms of quality and price, you can always set a price limit or minimum. For example: Ornaments between $10 – $15. A set price range is a great way to make sure that it stays fair.
  • Make sure to get everyone’s choices before the night you go out and write them on notecards or cute decorative cards to draw. These little details make the evening more fun and memorable!

Check out our Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments video on YouTube!

Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments: All about our gifts.

Kayla happened to draw the gift that Charity bought. We thought she was never going to quit pulling wrapping paper out of the bag. (LOL) But it was because the ornaments were breakable, and she was trying to be careful. It was two beautiful black and white ornaments from Hobby Lobby. Kayla was pleasantly surprised and told Charity that she did a “good job” picking them out. 

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments Kayla opening her black and white gifts.

My ornament came from Jayla. She bought it at Pearce Pharmacy. They also do a very good job wrapping the gifts that you buy. (I commented on how pretty the bag was.) My gift was this beautiful gold star!

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments Jessie opening her golden star ornament.

Charity’s expression says it all when she opens Kayla’s gift for her from King’s Antiques. She was so surprised that it matched her tree perfectly! Her ornament was stunning. I know that the pictures below don’t truly do it justice but her ornament reminded me of Cinderella’s carriage. It had beautiful gold and red jewels.

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments  Charity opening up her golden and red chariot looking ornament.

Jayla’s gift was from me. I honestly didn’t realize that Dillard’s had such pretty ornaments. I went to our local Dillards in the mall and upstairs to all of the Christmas decor to see if I could find something.

The lady at the counter told me that EVERYTHING on all of the trees was for sale! So I could go up to any of the themed trees and select any ornament to buy. This was quite dangerous for me (HA). There were so many pretty ornaments and a lot of them were hand-painted. The price reflected the craftsmanship so I couldn’t fall in love with just anything. (wink, wink) I finally decided on this beautiful bird covered in jewels and lace. It’s different and unique. Jayla was happy because she said that it would go on her tree perfectly since it was white.

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments Jayla opening her bird ornament from Dillard's.

Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments: All about the Restaurants we chose!

Let me tell you about each of the choices we put into the “pot”.

Portico Grill: (My Pick)

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments a restaurant choice for the night, Portico grill.
  • The Food here is DELICIOUS! We went here for my birthday and I ordered the jalapeno cream cheeseburger… OH MY GOODNESS… it was AMAZING!
  • There are so many options on the menu that you can find something you like. They have seafood, wings, burgers, pasta, and more!
  • The prices are affordable and the atmosphere is great.

Basil Thai and Sushi: (Jayla’s Pick)

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments. This is where we ended up eating dinner. Sushi at Basil.
  • This is one of our favorite sushi spots!
  • They also have great noodle dishes and really good curry.
  • The prices are super affordable and they have the best fried rice in town, in my opinion!
  • After Jay Pappa’s (below) didn’t work out, we drew again and Basil won!
Our food at Basil. Friend rice and sushi roll.

Jay Pappa’s: (Kayla’s Pick)

  • This was probably the fanciest on our list of restaurants.
  • It’s a very small dining room and you need a reservation. (We didn’t realize that until we went and weren’t able to get a table.)
  • Kayla has been here before and said that the food was fantastic. I could certainly see that seafood was their specialty, although they had quite a few choices on the menu and the food looked and smelled great. (HA) But I haven’t been able to taste it yet. We will have to visit again in the future.
A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments this was our first food choice but we had to have a reservation.

Olive Garden: (Charity’s Pick)

  • We love Olive Garden!
  • I think that another reason it made the list is because our husbands aren’t crazy about eating pasta and so we know that the only way we get to go here and enjoy it is with our friends. (HA)
  • The unlimited salad and breadsticks are a very big draw too. Who wouldn’t want freshly baked bread brought to your table without an end in sight?
  • I love their lasagna, chicken fettuccini dishes, and original spaghetti.
A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments Pictures of Olive Garden which was another one of our choices for dinner.

Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments: All about our shopping choices!

Pecanland Mall: (My Pick)

A fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas - Unique Ornaments This is Pecanland mall. One of our choices for shopping after dinner.
  • I chose the mall for a couple of different reasons. There is a huge variety of stores and there are snacks! (HA)
  • Our mall is a decent size and includes a nice food court and even a large arcade.
  • Here’s a look at some of the available stores: (There are many more.)
    • Dillards
    • J.C. Penney
    • Belk
    • Dick’s Sporting Goods
    • The Shoe Dept.
    • The Camo Shop
    • Children’s Place

T.J. Maxx: (Kayla and Charity’s Pick)

  • If you are looking for interesting finds… this is your place!
  • I like to look at their shoes, especially their clearance section.
  • Another part of this store that is my favorite is the snack aisle. They have all kinds of interesting things that you can’t find in other places like:
    • Lavender honey
    • Dried Pineapple slices dipped in dark chocolate
    • Saffron infused oil
    • Truffle oil
    • Garlic-flavored plantain chips
  • I love buying unique Christmas gifts here and stocking stuffers!
Jessie and Kayla with some unique water flavors at T.J.Maxx.

Ross: (Jayla’s Pick)

  • If you don’t mind looking through lots of racks, this is your place.
  • This store is organized and it’s a lot like T.J. Maxx in the sense that you can find a random assortment of items. They have everything from home decor, shoes, and skincare to clothes, furniture, and toys.
  • The prices are low and discounted, which is nice.
  • I like to look at their shoes and their skincare. Sometimes I’m able to snag some high-end brands for clearance prices. I also like to buy my face masks here because they are affordable.
Jessie holding face masks that she bought from Ross Dress for less.

Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments: All about our dessert choices!

Dairy Queen: (Charity’s Pick)

  • If you love ice cream, then this is the place for you!
  • Their blizzards are thick and creamy with a multitude of flavors.
Dairy Queen Blizzard pictures.

Andy’s Frozen Custard: (Jayla’s Pick)

  • Now, I’m not much on ice cream but I will make an exception for custard!
  • I think it’s kinda like my thing with whole milk, half & half, and heavy cream. I’m a heavy-cream kinda gal! I only want it if it’s super-rich. Anything less than that isn’t worth it. Custard is like that. It’s the creamiest of ice-creams. So if I’m going to go for a dessert that isn’t necessarily my favorite, I want to eat my favorite version of it.
  • The possibilities and combinations here are endless, but I love their Jackhammers, specifically the one with peanut butter in it!
Golden Girls eating ice cream at Andy's Frozen Custard.

Great American Cookie Company: (My Pick)

  • I chose this place because it’s very rare for any of us to eat a cookie out. We all know that baking cookies at home happens frequently, but getting a new or uniquely flavored cookie out is a special treat.
  • I also thought we might land in the mall for shopping and this place is located in our local mall.
  • I like their pecan cookies as well as their cookie cake. But I think every flavor on the menu is delicious.
  • The only thing I don’t understand is that they don’t sell milk! LIKE WHAT?!?!

Starbucks: (Kayla’s Pick)

  • I know you might be thinking that this isn’t a dessert place. And I guess you could be right. But all of us like coffee and when you are drinking a cold brew with caramel and cream, it certainly feels like dessert.
  • I would also like to add that in my family, coffee is always served with dessert, so they go together for me.
  • Starbucks has some sweet treats on their menu and I’ve never had anything there that wasn’t good. So if you are looking for something sweet to bite down on, you’ve got options: Biscotti, cookies, chocolate, cake pops, brownies, croissants, scones, muffins, danishes, and donuts!
Jessie drinking Starbucks with her daughter in Texas.

Fun Gift Exchange Ideas for Christmas – Unique Ornaments: Variations to make it your own!

  • We wrote numbers on the gifts that were brought and then I wrote the same numbers on pieces of paper for each person to draw. You opened the gift that had the matching number. This works well for smaller groups because it doesn’t take long to write the numbers on the gifts and the pieces of paper.
  • You could do the “White Elephant Gift Exchange”. This is where you write down numbers on a piece of paper (the # of people attending) and everyone draws a number. Whatever number they draw is the order in which they get to choose a gift. When it’s their turn, they can choose an unopened gift from the table or steal from another player who has already opened a gift. If your gift is stolen, then you are back to select another gift from the table. It’s lots of fun and can be competitive!

“Pass the Gift” is a fun way to exchange gifts:

  • Everyone places the wrapped gift that they brought in front of them on the table. Someone is designated to read a Christmas story and each time the word “right” is mentioned in the story, you pass your gift to the person to the right. Each time the word “left” is mentioned in the story, you pass your gift to the person on your left. By the end of the story, a random gift should be sitting in front of you that wasn’t what you brought.
  • Another great idea would be musical chairs. If you have a holiday party with a lot of people and they don’t mind moving about, this would be a fun twist! You could spice it up even more with the types of music you choose or the songs. The possibilities are endless!

Other gift ideas for your exchange could be:

  •  Gift cards – You really can’t go wrong here. Everyone likes the option to buy what they like. This is a great option for picky people.
  • Gag Gifts – This is one of the best creative gift exchange ideas I’ve ever been a part of. I do this with some former students of mine every year and it’s always a great time! We always have a good laugh and the level of creativity that comes out always amazes me.

Cookie Swap:

  • If cooking/baking is your thing, this might fit you perfectly! Instead of lugging around a pile of presents, you could just bring a decorative container with your homemade treats! The best part about this is the price point, especially if you are on a spending limit and times are hard. Cookies are relatively cheap to make, and the variations are endless.
  • Board Games – I think this would be good for extended family members. We love board games but after playing them for a while they can get boring. You don’t necessarily want to throw them away, but you also want more options. You could do a board game swap at your next Christmas Party. And since it’s with family or close friends, you always know where the game is and can arrange to borrow it or swap it back at a later date.

Favorite Things:

  • I saw this Christmas Gift Exchange Game on TikTok and I thought it was really cute. It is a more personal option with thoughtful gifts. The party attendees don’t just walk away with a gift, they also learn more about the people bringing them.
  • Favorite Book – This is a good idea for a group of readers. You could even take this idea to the next level by scheduling book club meetings throughout the year with the gifts that were given.

No matter what you decide to do with your friends and family for Christmas gift-giving, the most important thing is spending time together and spreading holiday cheer! The best gift of all is your PRESENCE.

Check out some other adventures of the Golden Girls!

The Golden Girls do Greek Food

The Golden Girls do Sight and Sound Theater

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