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How to host an ornament exchange

In our house, there's always room for one more ornament on the tree--no matter how stuffed that tree gets! Each ornament is a reminder of a beloved family member, dear friend or special moment. 

I've been participating in ornament exchanges for years. It's a fun excuse to get together with friends of all ages during the holidays. The groups can be large or small. Sometimes we make ornaments to exchange and other times they are store-bought. 
Group of friends

My women's networking group exchanges Christmas ornaments at their yearly holiday luncheon. It is done in the Yankee Swap tradition: we gift-wrap all of the ornaments and place them on a table, and then we all draw numbers. The person with the lowest number picks one of the mystery packages and unwraps it. Then, the person with the next number can either choose to open the next wrapped gift, or steal the opened ornament from the first person. This continues until all of the ornaments have been distributed. The ornaments range from ornate beauties to handmade treasures to hilarious gags. It's great fun and lots of laughs ensue with all of the thievery. 

Large groups
For a number of years, I ran an ornament exchange for about 200 Girl Scouts. It was an opportunity for a variety of troops to get together for a holiday party. At the event or before, each scout would make three of the same ornament—one to keep, one to exchange, and one to donate. The donated ornaments were taken to a homeless shelter where the girls set up and decorated a tree for all to enjoy.

There would always be a range of charmingly simple ornaments made by the younger kindergarten troops to extremely elaborate creations from the high school girls. At the end of the event, the troops would line up in rows of two-by-two to exchange ornaments with the members of the troop in the line across from them. When you plan your own event, be sure to mix in Christmas carols, silly games, and yummy cookies, and you've got a memorable night!
Bead&Button 6-Pack: A Romantic Christmas
Crafty friends

A group of crafty friends can get together for an ornament exchange of exclusively handmade ornaments—the more variety, the better. Imagine the ornaments from a party of jewelry makers, wood workers, crocheters, seamstresses, scrapbookers, potters, upcyclers and any other maker that you can dream up. Of course, there's a little more pressure with this type of exchange because your creative skills are on display for everyone. But, think of the possibilities.

We have posted many free holiday ornament projects on Facet (see them all together on our Pinterest page!) and have even more patterns available in our store. We would love to see the ornaments that you create, or hear stories about your exchanges. Be sure to comment on the Facet Facebook page with your great ideas for celebrating the spirit of the season in your own memorable way. 

Holiday star ornament
Holiday star ornament
Ornament in bloom
Ornament in bloom
Star light star bright ornament
Star light, star bright ornament
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