Pollyanna Gift Exchange

You are having a gathering, a party or a social affair, whether this is at Christmas time or any other time of year. A gift exchange will give you an event within the party that gathers everyone together to participate in some cheer. These gift exchanges work well for large groups of people because they are fun, and because they don't cost your guests a lot of money. And they break up the socializing, especially amongst a group of people who may not know each other very well. These gift exchanges are also suited to groups who do know each other well, and perhaps the Pollyanna Gift Exchange is the most appropriate.

Gift exchanges allow your guests to arrive with a gift and leave with a gift of equal value to what they purchased. You also provide a fun atmosphere in the middle of a gathering, especially if you're worried that any fun that is going on may stall. Perfect for office groups, neighbourhood parties or potluck meals, extended family gatherings, community groups, teammates and clubs, a gift exchange adds an extra layer of celebration to any event or party.

The focus of the Pollyanna Gift Exchange is one where gifts that are purchased and exchanged are thoughtful gifts, wholesome gifts, sometimes gifts that reflect the best character traits of both the giver and receiver. This is not a gift exchange for gag gifts or re-gifting, unless you as the host or hostess determines this as part of your theme.

Pollyanna Origins

The name Pollyanna refers to a young girl in a fiction book series and is not a well-known reference term throughout the world. It was popular at a certain time and in a certain place in the United States, namely in New England in the mid-1900s, and most particularly in the state of Pennsylvania.

Pollyanna was created as the main character in a children's book published in 1913 by author Eleanor Hodgman Porter, who was born in New Hampshire and died in Massachusetts. In her first story, Pollyanna is an orphan, around the age of 12, who must live with her aunt, a grouchy spinster who does not really want the responsibility of raising Pollyanna. Her aunt is not a rich woman, nor is the town where Pollyanna moves to live, and many of the town residents are living hard lives. Before her father died, he taught Pollyanna the Glad Game, a game where you always find the good, the silver lining, in any terrible or challenging situation. The Glad Game is a game about being thankful for what you have, and about looking on the positive side of life.

This much-loved character even impacted the professional study of psychology, spawning the term "The Pollyanna Principle" which was defined as a personality trait meaning an overly happy or optimistic person, sometimes unduly so, sometimes used in a negative way to describe someone who is not looking at a situation realistically, or looking through "rose coloured glasses". It also references how we tend to remember our past in a far more positive light than what actually occurred. The Pollyanna Principle is still referenced today in professional psychology circles.

The book Pollyanna, was a runaway success throughout North America and became an instant classic of children's literature. Mrs. Porter wrote a sequel to this first book, but unfortunately she died early in life at the age of 51, only 5 years after the second book was published. Because this character was so well-love and so well-received by the public, several authors took up the mantle and authored 11 more "Glad Books". In the decades since, Pollyanna spawned a stage play, 4 film adaptations and 2 television series. "Glad Clubs" sprung up across the United States in response to this book series. It really was quite a positive phenomenon! And the Glad Game eventually found its way into northeastern America's social gatherings.

The Game

As you've read, the spirit of this game is about finding the good things in life, no matter the situation, finding a gift to exchange with others that has value, that speaks to a person's positive personality traits. Each guest's goal is to find a gift that is thoughtful, that takes into account who the receiver is or might be and what you love about them, or to reinforce or remind the receiver about something good that this person has done in their lives.

There are a few variations of the rules to playing this game, from buying a gift for a certain person within the group to having a random guest choose each gift. Both variations work well and are described later on in this article under Pollyanna Gift Exchange Rules.

You can be certain, no matter how you choose to play this game, all guests will have fun, all guests will receive a gift that they value, and lots of discussion will be a part of this game.