Saturday Street Style: Gift Swap Shopping

When: December 14, 2013

Where: Faneuil Hall Marketplace


I was introduced to the Yankee Swap gift exchange several years ago.

The possible origin of the game from

The game is said to have come from the civil war holiday tradition of trading prisoners of war with the enemy. Although the origin of the game is disputed, the term “Yankee Swap” in written form itself dates back to the early ninetenth century.

The rules of this holiday tradition vary. This is the way I’ve played: a dollar amount is chosen for the gift, everyone who is participating brings their gift wrapped without a label, and the number of people participating can vary but is usually more than four. On the day of the swap you write numbers on small pieces of paper to match the number of participants. Put these numbers in a hat or bowl and have everyone pick a number. Participants pick a gift in order from number one to the final number. When you open your gift you can choose to keep it or swap it with a previously opened gift. The best number to pick is one because that person can swap after everyone else picked and swapped.

I’ve played this game with coworkers, I’ve attended holiday parties that require bringing a gift for swapping, and most recently I’ve been participating with my family. You can pick a theme to your swap like kitchen supplies, ornaments, gift cards, etc. Or you can just keep it open. I usually pick something that I wouldn’t mind keeping for myself. You can end up with your own gift. The Yankee Swap is a fun tradition to participate in with friends and family. Don’t be afraid to steal someone else’s gift, you don’t have to be nice in this game. Warning: you might end up with a gift that you don’t love but I guarantee you will have fun during the game.

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I ventured out on Saturday to look for a Yankee swap gift. As you might know there was a snow storm moving through Boston this past weekend. I headed out around 4:30 and there was a little accumulation on the ground and the snow was still falling steadily. I don’t mind venturing out with a little snow. The snow and the holiday lights make a pretty scene.

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There were several people who also decided to venture out to do some shopping and walk around the area.


The lights and tree in Faneuil Hall are very pretty and you can even visit Santa!


I went to three stores to look for my swap gift. Urban Outfitters, FunUsual, and Newberry Comics. I hadn’t decided on what type of gift to contribute. In past swaps I’ve brought kitchen items and useful tools but mostly I like to bring a unique or quirky gift. One year three of us had the same idea, the handset for the iPhone.

Here are some items I thought might be good choices:

Old school games and toys:

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Simon was at Urban Outfitters. Rubik Cube at FunUsual

Phone accessories:

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Snap remote for selfies at Urban Outfitters. Walkie-Talkie for the iPhone at Newbury Comics

Items for the kitchen:

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Tongs and shaker at FunUsual, M-Cups at Newbury Comics

Maybe bring a book:

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Other random items:

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All above items at Urban Outfitters.

I did buy something but I’m not sure if I’m going to use it for the swap, it may or may not be pictured above.

Look for more fun gifts like these at:

Looking for more traditional gifts?

Crate and Barrel: (20% off wine and dine)


Stacking Acrylic Teal Wine Glass $3.16 each. You could buy two with a bottle of wine.


Hoppy Holidays Beer Glasses Set of Four $12.64 (with a cheap six pack)




Kohl’s, TJ Maxx, and Homegoods also have good gift swap items.

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