How to Win at Yankee Swaps

First off, to clear up any confusion, what is a “Yankee Swap”?

It’s a way of gift-giving for large groups to alleviate the burden of getting a separate gift for every person or couple. Instead, everyone brings one gift to contribute to the “grab”. At the end of the game, everyone goes home with one nice gift instead of a bunch of smaller things they didn’t necessarily need or want. My family is huge, so we do this every year and I love it!

Over the years, I’ve picked up some tips and ideas of how to make the most of a holiday swap and thought I’d share…

1. Always bring a gift you wouldn’t mind going home with. That way, you know there’s at least one thing you’ll like in the pile.

2. If you follow #1, wrap your gift as unappealingly or hard to open as possible. People tend to grab the prettiest or easiest to open gifts first.

3. Never let on which gift you really want. If your family is anywhere near as competitive as mine, it usually means someone will take it just to spite you!

4. If you’re there with a partner, team up to get something you’re both interested in rather than two things that are just mediocre.

5. If, after the swap, someone looks unhappy with ending up with a gift that you wanted for yourself, consider making a trade. It’s a win-win!

Have any tips for getting the most of a Yankee swap? I’d love to hear them; I’m preparing my strategy for mine already!


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