How to Host an Alphabet Gift Exchange that Won’t Annoy Your Guests

Ah, the alphabet gift exchange. Created to add even more angst and frustration to gift givers. I’ll let you have choice words with the host that wrangled up this idea.

Let’s be honest, no one likes to think too hard on gift exchanges. Make it an alphabet gift exchange, and things just got complicated. I challenge you to think of gifts that start with the letter “Z” – not easy, right?

Jump further below if you want the finer details of how to run an alphabet gift exchange. Here’s a convenient list that links to gift ideas for all of the letters (I am linking as I finish each article);

Coworkers dressed in zany and bright red outfits and reindeer antler head bands for the office Christmas party.
Are you ready for your next gift exchange?

The funny thing you’re going to find with alphabet gift exchanges (on the Internet) are examples of ridiculously-priced Amazon items. These are likely not in most people’s budget, so why even list them (no thank-you “A” for acoustical guitar!).

I am dedicated to keeping this real (please give me a virtual thumbs-up if we share the same sentiments 😉 ). For the sake of thoroughness, let’s touch on the finer points of how this type of gift exchange works.

How an alphabet gift exchange works

The premise of the alphabet gift exchange is simple: a letter of the alphabet determines the first letter of gifts. Letters are randomized and assigned to family members or participants. The letter determines the first letter of gifts to be given as gifts or stocking stuffers.

Looking for stocking stuffer ideas with the following letters:

Gift exchange themes are popular ways to “guide” gift giving for family holidays, Christmas gift exchanges, or office gift exchanges. It’s a clever gift exchange idea and makes gift giving more fun.

One word of caution: some letters are more challenging than others. As some of the letters require more thought, or shortage of good gifts, like the letter Q, the fun goes out pretty “quick” (pun intended!

Ideas on drawing letters for an alphabet gift exchange

Actually drawing the letters for an alphabet gift exchange can be a challenge in itself. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

Personally, I like the PIcker Wheel, if you’re a Wheel of Fortune type of person.

Variations of the alphabet gift exchange

It’s not one size fits all. There are other ways to decide the “rules” of the alphabet gift exchange:

ONE letter is chosen, and everyone uses it. For example, if the letter “T” was chosen, all participants would only buy a gift starting with the letter “T”.

LETTERS ARE CHOSEN AT RANDOM. Each participant grabs from a bag, and that is the letter they base the gift purchase on. The downside is that someone may get an “easy” letter, and the next person, a more “difficult” letter. Difficult letters would be Q, U, X, Z.

If your guests enjoy a challenge, the alphabet gift exchange is a good choice.

In addition, an alphabet theme may be chosen. For example:

  • title of book
  • title of a movie
  • title of best author
  • favorite food
  • gifts for the kitchen
  • gifts for the outdoors
  • electronic gifts
  • techy gifts

Breaking the rules of the alphabet letter gift exchange

Every gift exchange has rule breakers. Here’s the shenanegans what to expect.

Say, for example, a person draws the letter “P”. Instead of giving a “pot” or “plant” they choose to give a purple hat. Or say, that for the letter “A” they choose to give a gift that falls under the category “Assorted.”

Personally as a host, I would let it slide. Honestly, if this were a contest and we were judging, the person who was most creative or got the most laughs would win.

In addition, the group as a whole, may choose to exclude letters such as gifts beginning with Q, because it proves to be challenging.

My parting advice is to not lose sight of the goal to have a good time! THAT is how not to annoy your guests!

Renee Cavvy
Renee Cavvy

Renee brings over 30 years of gift giving experience to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, workplace and faith events. Every life moment is cause for celebration or those times in life when we need the "the gift of support". Her mission: Let's all be better in appreciating one another, put an end to meaningless gifts that clutter our lives, and give from a place of love and kindness. This midwest mom (and grandma) offers novel and creative ideas to do gift giving better!