I remember doing the gift exchange thing when I was in elementary school. I think the main reason I remember it is because I always hoped I would get a box thing of 5 or 6 rolls of Life Savers. Never did get it! For my students we do gingerbread houses a couple days before the start of the winter break. They each bring in a decoration item (bag of M&Ms, gummy bears, gum drops...) and give me $3 to get the graham crackers, plates, plastic knives and frosting. I only had 2 kids not bring me the $3 and maybe 2 not bring their decoration supplies. We still had plenty. Nobody at my school does the gift exchange thing as far as I know and based on the replies here I'm certainly not going to suggest starting it! As far as gifts to my students, I gave them each a copy of Hatchet (thanks to a $1 sale from Scholastic back in October), a winter pencil, a monkey finger puppet and a frog finger puppet. The finger puppets were because this group of kids will do things at the end of the day like take their animal winter hats and have the hats talk to each other, or have little animal erasers that talk to each other, so finger puppets just seemed to fit. Sure enough, on the day they got them, several of them put them right on their fingers and began to have conversations with each other. I just love that my 5th graders still do such a "kid" activity so I wanted to encourage it with the puppets.