How to Organize a Successful Gift Exchange in a Large Family

Are there too many people on your holiday gift list? Has your family grown as the children have gotten married and had children and grandchildren of their own? Is it getting too expensive to buy good gifts for everyone? Does it take too much time to shop, wrap, and shift your gifts? Your family may want to consider organizing a gift exchange -- here's how to do it.

Hold a family meeting or send a family meeting to see whether the entire family will be agreeable to organizing a family gift exchange in which each relative will be responsible to give a good gift to one other relative. Suggest a maximum amount to be spent on each gift. Family gift exchanges work best when children give to children and adults give to adults.

Decide the age at which a family member is added to the adult list. One suggestion is to make the adult list include every person who is old enough to drive because at that age the teens usually have jobs or discretionary income of their own. They are also usually socially engaged enough with the older members of the family to shop for and select appropriate gifts on their own.

Write the name of every person in your family on a sheet of paper. Duplicate this list. Cut one of the copies into little strips so that each name is on one slip. Sort the names so that the adults are in one pile and the children are in another pile. Place the names of the adults in a bowl. Pick one name out of the bowl and write it on the list next to the first name. If you picked the same name or that person's spouse, put it back and pick another name. The name on the list will be the giver. The name picked out of the bowl will be the receiver. Repeat the process with the children's names making sure that siblings do not give to each other.

Email the list of givers and receivers to everyone on the list. Keep a copy so that when you organize the gift exchange for the next year, the same pairs do not occur. Everyone on the list is responsible to ship the gift so that it arrives at the receiver's location in time for the holiday.