Creating a Great Roommate Gift Giving Experience

What should you do about roommate gifts? It depends. If your roommate is your best friend, then it’s easy.  You know what they will like, and you’ll get them a perfect gift.  It gets trickier (and more expensive!) if you live in a group house with many roommates, but there are ways to make the gift exchange both fun and affordable with a little planning.

White Elephant

Some people like a white elephant game. This game is not only about gift giving but it is also entertaining. Each person brings a wrapped gag gift or something that they do not have use for. The gifts are all put on a table near everyone. Everyone gets a turn to pick a gift. Once you unwrap a gift the next person can steal your gift or choose a new one. If they steal your gift then you choose a new one. Each gift can be stolen 3 times and then it has found its final owner. A limit of $20 is good for the game. No one really has any idea what they will get, but you might end up with something useful and you and your roommates have a little fun bonding moment.

Secret Santa

This is a typical office gift exchange system, but can be also used in a group house with many roommates. You put everyone’s name on a piece of paper, throw the paper slips into a hat and each person draws a name from the hat. They get a gift for that person who is then trying to guess who gave the gift.

Traditional Gifts

1.  Each roommate makes a list that includes:

Favorite color
Favorite authors
Favorite hobbies
Favorite games
Clothing Size

2. Everyone agrees on an amount that each person can spend.

If each of your roommates is a student and are on a small budget $20 is a pretty typical limit. If each person works then make a limit of $50. You might also want to consider how many family members each roommate has and if they celebrate the holidays. If your roommates have large families you may also want to consider making a limit of $20.

3. Everyone makes a list of things that they’d like to receive.

If you have just moved in with your roommates it might be hard for you to figure out what they would like. There are plenty of things that you could get for $20, such as gift cards for coffee, music, books, or games that will work for anyone.

Consider no-money gifts

If all your roommates come to the conclusion that they do not have a budget for holiday shopping, there are other things that you could exchange. Everyone has a special talent. If one of your roommates is doing great at school and offers to help you out maybe you could make them breakfast each time they help you with your work. Maybe one roommate is great at making pajamas and blankets and another makes the best handmade lotions and soaps, these are also potential trade-offs.

Holiday party

While it may be difficult to find a time that works for everyone, maybe your roommates just get together for a little holiday party, and everyone contributes to the party.

There are many ways to have a great holiday season with your roommates. The best gifts are the ones that come from the heart and are things money cannot buy.

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Author My First Apartment

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Dana Kearney was born and raised in Oakland, Ca. and graduated from UC Davis. After moving away from home, Dana has lived in dorms, in a co-op, in apartments and more apartments. She spends her free time writing, reading, and designing clothes.

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