Socially Distant Gift Exchange Ideas

gray and white cloth surface with holiday wrapped gift boxes topped with matching custom avery labels tags and cards

Even if you can’t physically be in the same place, your gift exchange can still be magical

Every year has its ups and downs, but you can always count on the holiday season to bring about special moments of joy and togetherness that will be remembered in years to come. Although this year may have included more uncertainty than usual, it doesn’t mean this holiday can’t be as magical as ever.

There are many ways to share this special time with those you love, even while you and your family are keeping a safe distance. A socially distant gift exchange is a great way to celebrate the season with your friends and extended family.

From virtual meetups, shipping tips and personalized finishing touches, here are a few creative ideas to help make sure your gift exchange is memorable and exciting for everyone involved.

wooden table with holiday decorated box filled with ice cream sundae kit for gift exchange made with labels using avery templates wooden table surface with holiday wrapping paper and brown packages topped with custom avery shipping labels and stickers
Send a gift that can be shared! Put together family-friendly DIY boxes and kits using Avery labels (22806), bag toppers and festive instructions. Finish off your gift with custom holiday stickers letting them know if they’ve made the nice list or the naughty list

Send curated gift boxes with unique themes for a family gift exchange

Everyone loves receiving gifts, but the experience is extra special when the gift is personalized or significant, especially if it’s for a whole family to share. Why go with a generic, off the shelf gift set when you can put together something more thoughtful and meaningful without much hassle?

Go for a themed gift box the entire family can enjoy. This way, part of the gift will be the time spent enjoying it together. Collect items for an activity that can be shared by the whole family and present them in a festive basket, box or container. Pull everything together with themed labels and a matching card.

For example, why not send a DIY ice cream sundae gift box that will excite the kids and kids at heart? Include all the necessities to create the ultimate ice cream sundae, excluding the ice cream:

  • Gather a stack of cups and/or cones
  • Separate yummy toppings into individual bags with bag toppers
  • Create labels for jars with caramel sauce, hot fudge and cherries
  • Include an ice cream scoop, fun plastic spoons and napkins

Assemble the items with everything labeled and laid out neatly. Finish it off with a festive note that includes the instructions and a fun holiday greeting from your family to theirs. You can also create a similar box for your own family and suggest you share the deliciousness together virtually on a later date.

Once your gift is ready to send out, continue the fun on the shipping box. Include a shipping label from Santa or add some holiday stickers on the package with personalized messages for the season or ones that specify if they’ve made the naughty or nice list

wooden table surface with holiday gift wrapping material including wrapping paper scissors tape ribbon and wrapped gift with secret santa avery gift tag
Add some fun to your virtual Secret Santa gift exchange by building the mystery with an Avery printable gift tag (22802) and finding the perfect gift.

Host your annual gift exchange event online— make it a party!

When it comes to the gift exchange, make sure everyone has fun! While you may not be able to gather in person, get everyone involved to help build excitement. Going virtual is of course your best bet, but there are ways for your family and friends to participate even before the actual event.

If you’re doing Secret Santa, for example, take advantage of online generators that can help simplify the entire process. Once you all agree on a gift purchase price and everyone is signed up and secretly matched, share your wish list with your Secret Santa gift giver and go over the requests of your “giftee.”

Some generators even have messaging systems that let you send messages without revealing who you are matched with. This adds to the secretiveness and makes finding the perfect gift more enjoyable. Continue the mystery when mailing out your gifts with custom shipping labels and “no peeking” sticker warnings.

Ensure everyone has their gift by the day of the exchange and arrange a video call for all involved. You can either open gifts one at a time or all at once, but the best part is going around guessing who sent their gifts before the actual Secret Santas are revealed.

You can also host a virtual white elephant gift exchange that is just as fun as having one in person. Have everyone purchase a white elephant gift and wrap it. Randomly assign one address and one number to each person and send your wrapped gift to that address.

Set up a video chat and play the game as normal, except when your number is up you unwrap the gift you were sent and show it off to the group. You can choose to either keep the gift or “steal” one of the eligible gifts that have already been opened.

When someone “claims” a gift, note it in the chat instead of handing it off. Once all the gifts are opened and claimed, make sure they are shipped or dropped off to the right recipient.

Whether your gift exchange is more casual and low key, or you go all out with seasonal twists to your virtual party celebration, the most important thing is to make sure all the participants have fun and feel included. This helps spread the togetherness and joy of the season even if you’re all miles apart.

white wooden surface with brown shipping boxes topped with custom avery holiday labels white wooden surface with blue envelopes topped with custom avery holiday address labels
Put your personal touch on your gifts with custom holiday shipping labels using Avery Design & Print and coordinating Avery address labels (6525) on all your holiday cards.

Make your gifts feel more like “you” with details that showcase your personal style

Just because you can’t hand out your gifts in person doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your own personal touch to each one. Create a cohesive look for all your presents with custom tags, labels and cards so it feels like a piece of you is with them as they open up your gifts.

A quick and easy way to personalize your tags is by using Avery Design & Print Online. Our free online software offers professional templates, a large library of images and fonts, and the ability to upload your own artwork to add a personal touch to your gifts. You can even add your own text and personal photos.

Extend your theme and personal elements to the shipping and address labels for that added little touch. You can find hundreds of free templates for holiday card address labels and shipping labels on our website. From the moment they receive your package, they’ll know it was sent with love and care.

Mailing out multiple cards and packages? Make the process easier by creating your own mailing list and using the mail merge tool in Avery Design & Print. This can also save you more time to spend finishing up any other holiday tasks.

white wooden surface with open brown box filled with shredded shipping material and decorated with patterned holiday paper and labels next to closed brown box with custom avery shipping label
Package your gifts with extra love. Elevate your packaging with holiday wrapping paper and custom holiday labels that show you care.

Gift exchange packaging tips for shipping holiday gifts

If you’re not accustomed to shipping out your gifts, don’t overlook the importance of packaging. All those lovely treat boxes, gift baskets and gift bags you worked so hard on still need to be packed securely in cardboard boxes in order to arrive safely at their destinations.

For those shipping on a budget, add some pop to those plain brown boxes by decorating the box flaps with wrapping paper. Elevate your packaging with custom holiday labels and stickers for the perfect finishing touch. You can also skip the baskets and bags and place your gifts in sturdy mailer boxes.

Achieve a crisp and clean look by using full-coverage shipping labels containing block-out material to completely cover patterns, text or any other markings underneath. Not only will this create a neat and tidy appearance, it will also make it easier for mail carriers to scan the barcodes.

Get inspired with more ideas for a delightful holiday gift exchange

Although you may not be there to personally hand out your gifts this year, you can still share special holiday moments with those you love. Adding all those personal touches and extra details will show how much your care.

For more festive ideas to make your gift exchange the perfect end-of-the-year celebration, check out our creative gift wrapping suggestions and holiday shipping and project guides. Ensure your holiday packages arrive on time and get the answers to all your shipping questions with our mailing and shipping solutions page.

Send your love from a distance this year. Your virtual gift exchange can still be filled with special memories and personal moments that show your loved ones you are still with them even if you are not there physically.

Products Used in This Article

Easy Peel® Sure Feed™ Square Labels, 2” x 2” (22806/94107)
Shipping Labels with TrueBlock®, 5-1/2” x 8-1/2” (5126/94229)
Shipping Labels, 8-1/2″ x 11″ (5165/94268)
Printable Bag Toppers 1-3/4” x 5” (22801)
Easy Peel® Labels, Glossy, 2″ Round (22807/94501)
Printable Tags with Strings, 2″ x 3-1/2″ (22802)
Shipping Labels, Matte White with Metallic Gold Boarders, 2” x 4” (6541)
Invitation Cards, Matte White with Metallic Gold Borders, 5″ x 7″ (3325)
Round Labels, Matte White with Metallic Gold Boarders, 2” (22876)
Easy Peel® Address Labels, 1” x 2-5/8” (6525/94200)