Valentine's Day Gift Exchange Ideas for Children


Valentine's Day gift exchanges highlight a holiday celebration for children. The anticipation of receiving a gift creates excitement for everyone involved. Creative ways to manage the gift exchange add more enthusiasm for the event. Consider the ages of the children involved when planning the gift exchange, and adapt the rules or guidelines as necessary to fit the group of children participating.

Secret Cupids

  • The Secret Cupids gift exchange uses the Secret Santa concept often employed at Christmas. Assign each child a secret cupid, emphasizing the importance of keeping the identity a secret. Encourage kids to hide little gifts for their secret cupids throughout the day or week. Limit the dollar amount, or encourage the kids to make gifts for the exchange. Wrap up the activity with a reveal party, during which the children guess the identities of their secret cupids. After each child has had a chance to guess his secret cupid, the kids can reveal their true identities.

Homemade Valentine's Gift Exchange

  • A homemade Valentine's gift exchange emphasizes the thought behind gift giving instead of the monetary value. Organize a number of Valentine's crafts that would make nice gifts, and present all the craft options to the kids. Let each child choose which craft she wants to complete as a gift. Consider organizing the homemade gift exchange with another class by pairing up students from each class for the exchange.

White-Elephant Exchange

  • Ask each child to bring a small wrapped gift or item from home that he no longer needs. Ensure the children have permission from parents before sharing items from their own collections. Line up the presents on a table so everyone can see them. Draw a name, allowing the first person to select and open a gift. Continue drawing names, with each child then selecting a remaining gift from the table. Many white-elephant gift exchanges give each person the option of taking a gift that has already been opened from one of the other participants instead of keeping the one that has just been unwrapped. Older children may enjoy this element, but it could also cause hurt feelings or arguments, particularly among younger children. Consider the consequences carefully before allowing this option.

Thank-You Notes

  • Writing thank-you notes at the conclusion of the gift exchange extends the learning value of the activity. Thank-you notes teach children manners and appreciation for gifts they receive. Children also get the chance to apply letter-writing skills in a real-life situation.

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