How to Exchange Holiday Gifts With Roommates

By My First Apartment

SEATTLE (Zillow) — It’s gift list time again! You’ve got your family and close friends covered, but what about your roommates? When you share an apartment with someone, does it mean that you need to give a gift to show your roomies some holiday love? And how should you do it? These situations can become fraught with peril if improperly managed, but they can be rewarding bonding experiences if done with finesse, following a few ground rules:

Talk about exchanging gifts with your roommates

The first question is whether you’re going to give your roommates a gift at all. Sometimes there’s just not the synergy between you and the people you share a home with; in such a case, it may be better to sit it out. Or you and your roommates may be so busy this holiday season it would be a relief for everyone not to have another holiday event to worry about. Or you may all feel it’s a worthwhile endeavor; gift exchanges can be a lot of fun.

Regardless of your feelings beforehand, the first thing to do is talk about it. There’s nothing worse than one roommate giving a present and the other being totally unprepared. Giving gifts to roommates is also a highly female-biased custom, so guys with female roommates are the ones most often taken by surprise. Bring up the topic casually and gauge the reaction. If it turns out that you and your roommates are interested, go for it.

Set up the gifting ground rules

Are you going to do a Secret Santa exchange or direct gifts? If four or more people share your living space, a Secret Santa exchange is a good idea; it’ll save everyone time and money, but you’ll still have a roommate-centered holiday event.  In any case, whether you decide to do a direct gift exchange or a Secret Santa, be sure to discuss an expected price range. You don’t want to spend $50 on a nice sweater for your roommate, only to get a $10 gift card in return.