The Friends’ Guide To Gifting: Present Swap Party

It may be a couple of weeks off, but the festive spirit has sent us into Christmas wind-down mode—we’re taking every opportunity to eat well, drink well and huddle and reminisce with our nearest and dearest. Designer and blogger Sarah Sherman Samuel is a lady with a similar perspective, and we were lucky enough to get an invite into a gathering of the close-knit-friend kind. Her secret to soiree perfection? A mouth-watering menu and great gift swap. Read on for more of Sarah’s chic party tips and fun present-swapping tricks.

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Set a few present guidelines for your guests and let them know ahead of time. We set a price point so no one ends up with jelly beans when they brought diamonds. It’s also fun to set a theme for the gifts. Ours was “something cosy,” meaning scarves, hats, blankets, candles, etc.


A simple centrepiece of eucalyptus, candles and gold Christmas bulbs set a colour palette complimented by gold flatware, brass champagne toasting cups, a marble table cloth (which is actually a shower curtain!) and earthenware plates. Keep it casual by gathering around a coffee table with loads of cushions for cosy seating.


I made ours a champagne brunch because we all need more bubbly before noon. Pastries, quiche, croissants and savoury crepes make for tasty (and pretty) treats.


We always play the classic white elephant present exchange. The rules are:

  1. If someone steals your present, you can steal someone else’s gift or choose and open a wrapped one.
  2. A gift can only be stolen twice.
  3. A gift cannot be immediately stolen back from the player who just stole it.
  4. Continue until everyone has had a turn for a present.