2 unique ideas for your ornament exchange party yankee swap party

2 Unique Ornament Exchange Party IDEAS that will make guestsguests happy!

christmas traditional garland across a rod on kitchen table island - inspiration for ornament exchange party
christmas decor inspiration traditional red and green and white, Grace farm roses ornament swap party decor ideas
christmas decor inspiration traditional red and green and white, Grace farm roses ornament swap party decor ideas
2 unique ideas for your ornament exchange party yankee swap party

I hosted an ornament exchange party earlier this week and this party was a bigger one than I usually have. In the past, I hosted several intimate gatherings usually around 8 people or less, but truthfully I like having all my friends together in larger groups and it makes it easier for entertaining with setting up, consolidating to one evening, and it’s also VERY fun!

So this year I invited friends who I want to see more of, want to get to know better, and my true and loyal friends I’ve had for over 15 years (who over the years have gotten to know each other at my events).

Sharing the two tips that made this party unique and GUEST APPROVED as well as the menu and flow of the evening so you can plan yours.

 

#1 – SORT WRAPPED ornaments by A color category

2 ornament exchange party ideas - be creative with the set up, see more on the blog, this way people can choose off the start what will work with their tree!

Set your friends up with a good start!

How many of us grab one off the table and it’s the wrong color? Then no one steals our gift and we are stuck with a hot pink flamingo floatie ornament that doesn’t fit our neutral colored tree — or in my case, red and green. Speaking from experience… There are so many of these stories, right? It almost makes going to an ornament exchange party scary!

I decided to try something new and thought what if we sorted our ornaments so everyone could select the correct color scheme and that would be a success, right? No one really cares WHAT the ornament is (I mean kind of…), just that it will look good on our tree.

Right at the start your guests will have success with their chosen ornament by either stealing, or picking a color in the category.

  • Red and Green Traditional
  • Neutral or Metallic
  • Colorful

I also gave photo examples using Canva to design, just to help if guests were to get confused where to place the ornament they brought. Even if there was brown in it like a mouse wearing a red hat, that goes into red and green traditional.

Everyone LOVED this idea and was thankful for it because sometimes your ornament doesn’t get stolen and you get what you get, so you may as well just help your friends out to get something they can put on their tree! 

#2 – Instead of numbers, Have guests write a fun fact about themselves on a card

Take an index card of cut pieces of paper into cards and pass around on a tray with pens for everyone to take and write a fact about themselves that they of course won’t mind being shared with others.

The hostess just picks one randomly reads it, the person says who it is, or people can guess, and they can elaborate on the fact too! Some friends want more details if the fact is really interesting so it’s fun to allow guests to get to know one another.

This is one of my favorite ways to warm up the crowd when they don’t know each other and they can then have a starting point for conversations in the future or just remember a fact about someone new! 

Plus, picking a number just goes by quickly. I would suggest if it’s a huge group you may want to read quick and have the ornament table closer by, but it’s your party. I had about 15 people at my party.

The only thing I’d do differently myself is as a host, move around the room when I read the cards instead of standing in the same place. Then I would be able to interact a little more with my guests during that time in between. I’ll do that next year. 

The glass ornament of Santa holding the roses is the gift I brought. As a host you must look the host part, dress up like the host, put on some bling, and bring a top notch ornament! You have to be the best in spirit! Also my friends really brought it, they didn’t go cheap and really went all out and everyone liked the ornaments which is so fantastic! I think they felt a lot of pressure (as do I when you bring something!)

My tree ribbon is Mackenzie-Childs!

THE FOOD

The evening started at 7 pm and was desserts only. I planned on pies only unable to find any and decided to go for cakes instead! Whole Foods for a Tiramisu, Almond Cream, and Tres Leche sheet cakes. A fruit tart from Safeway (because it’s way prettier), and a Cheesecake Factory Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake (the biggest hit!)

christmas decor inspiration traditional red and green and white, Grace farm roses ornament swap party decor ideas
christmas decor inspiration traditional red and green and white, Grace farm roses ornament swap party decor ideas
christmas decor inspiration traditional red and green and white, Grace farm roses ornament swap party decor ideas

I had fudge, festive cookies, shortbread, there was no shortage of things to try. I often source food from See’s candies, Home Goods, World Market, Whole Foods, anything cute and looks delicious. Some are a fail and don’t taste great but I needed that ugly sweater cookie even if it was vegan haha! I do not cook or bake. I don’t specialize in it, and if it is not asked of me, I will not volunteer it, just cater or buy.

The point is to have abundance, and look like there’s a lot to choose from. Not everything needs to be eaten, though it would be ideal. Some items will be out for looks, you just don’t want to run out of anything!

The ornament exchange started at 8 and ended at 9. It took an hour with 15 people! But it was fun, elaborating on stories, and everyone stayed for a bit to chat, I turned up the music way louder so people felt like it was time to be social! If it’s radio silent people feel like it’s time to go home so I make the music louder!

I decorated using this over the table rod that is a hit every season, and I used a Walmart garland I ripped off things I didn’t like on it, and ribbon from The French Bee. Good ribbon makes a difference! I don’t wrap it around the rod, I tuck the ribbon in as I go down it.

christmas traditional garland across a rod on kitchen table island - inspiration for ornament exchange party

One last thing, first if I had a house big enough and an unlimited budget I would invite everyone, even people I don’t know, haha because truly the more the merrier!

But perhaps this will be my job in heaven, I will just host parties and everyone can come stay and linger all day for eternity, what fun that would be!

But instead of wishing you could be invited to people’s parties, or wish a friend would do this, why not do it? There needs to be more hostesses, I see people host constantly in the South which is what is inspiring to me and I want to provide that experience to my dearest. So do it! I’m sure you have an incredible collection of people, or are building one, and invite people over! Trust me my parties didn’t look like this and my house didn’t either but I still hosted. The more you practice the better you become and your friends love you for your company! It’s not about the food, or how your house looks, you make it special to how special YOU are!

christmas traditional garland across a rod on kitchen table island - inspiration for ornament exchange party

At the end of the night, I take snaps of what was left, so I know what to not order, get less of, or order more and how many people came. I adjust this for the following year. This is something I learned from my mother-in-law who has hosted many many church gatherings and parties over her lifetime. (Hi mom, I know you’re reading!). 

And one last thing I must say before I leave you, it’s about friendships. I shared this with my Instagram followers and wanted to share it with you.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season so far! Christmas is going to be here soon!

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A post shared by DIANA ELIZABETH STEFFEN (@dianaelizabeth_)

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.

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