I am a little overdue on creating the invite for our annual holiday party which takes place the 2nd Friday in December. The highlight of the party is the White Elephant gift exchange. It's become quite popular and some people spend the rest of the year coming up with the perfect gift. I have put off making the invitation because there is a problem with the gift exchange. It's supposed to be for adults, but each year more and more kids participate. The families arrive with enough gifts for them to participate. I am a nice person and don't want to upset anyone by telling them that they cannot participate, but I haven't been able to come up with a good alternative yet. Several years ago I had the kids bring a wrapped gift for their own gift exchange. The problem with that is that we had a variety of ages, so many kids were upset that they got a 'baby gift'. I hear complains from the kids with the adult exchange too. Many end up with a gag gift (which is really the premise of the whole thing) and they complain. Another issue with kids participating is they lose interest. It takes a while to get through ALL the gifts (35-40 usually participate) and the kids just don't have the attention span. I do have some regular games that the kids play (guess the candies, pass the present) and I give each a gift bag (usually customized to the kid), but I guess that isn't enough. I want to put an age limit and say that participants must be out of high school (yes...some of the worst on attention are the teens!), but I feel like I need to let people know ahead of time in the invitation and that I need an alternative. I think the tweens will be the most upset. (Kids as young as 3rd grade have participated! UGH!)
There is such an age range of kids (3-18)!! The younger ones just don't understand the whole stealing gift thing and the olders ones don't want stuff the little ones like. Everyone loves opening gifts, so I want to do something. We have the adults upstairs at the party and the kids downstairs...but many migrate upstairs. You can't tell a kid they aren't allowed upstairs. My daughter gets overwhelmed my crowds at times and will cling to us...so it would not be fair to allow her upstairs and NOT other kids. I don't mind the kids being upstairs...just their participation in the White Elephant. (And I don't want to tell people NO!) It's often the boys that goof around downstairs and the girls come up to be by their parents.
So what should I do? What kind of guidelines can I set so that kids could have their own exchange that most would be happy with (candy or maybe a $5 gift card)? I'd probably do the kid exchange upstairs before the adult one.