Fred Brown

Magical Gifts

by for .  
5 - 10 Low

In pairs, each person gives a "magical" gift to their partner that relates to what their partner has shared with them. 



creates connection
invites people to support one another 
deepens relationship to insight and next steps


This activity works well in pairs. Demo the activity before sending participants into 2-person breakout rooms.

 begin, the facilitator will give a prompt for sharing and Person A will share. The prompt could be something general like "what stands out to you" or more specific such as "what are you taking away from this session" or "what action are you going to take?" Whatever it is, it's helpful to invite participants to breath, to drop into a quiet and reflective state, and to consider the prompt.

Person A then responds to the prompt, as Person B listens closely.  Person B then gives an imaginary gift to Person A that relates to what they shared.  For instance, if Person A shares that they've been very stressed out and haven't been sleeping well, then Person B could give Person A a bucket of sleep, which they describe and then pass through the computer to Person A.  

Person A receives the gift with appreciation, and discovers new things about the gift that make it such a perfect gift for them ("oh look, its my favorite color. And it's self-replenishing!").  If sharing action items, the gift may help the person accomplish their goal by amplifying a capacity or remove obstacles. Person A thanks Person B and decides where and how to keep the gift and sets it there where they will be reminded of it. 

Partners then switch roles. Allow about 2 minutes for each exchange and an extra minute for transition time. 

Whoever is wearing the brightest colors is Partner A

Partner A (1 min)
Share with your partner a gift you'd like to receive this year, why its important to you.

Partner B (1 min)
Acknowledge what your partner has said. Choose a magical gift that will help your partner get what they want (or is what they want) and give it to them.

Partner A (1 min)
Receive and discover something especially delightful about the gift. Express gratitude to your partner.

<Switch roles>

Facilitation notes

This activity works well at the end of a program where people have had time to build trust and joy with each other. Providing some mechanism for people to reflect before they launch into it can be helpful, even if it is simply a collective breath. How you demonstrate the activity will greatly influence the participant's experience. 

Before you send participants into breakout rooms, let them know how they will determine who will share first (e.g. whoever is wearing brighter colors / earliest birthday in the year / alphabetical/ etc). 

After the gift exchange people often want to share about their experience. Inviting shares out in the main session after the activity can solidify the connections that were made in the breakout rooms, as people give a shout out to their partner for their generosity and thoughtfulness and for the aptness of the gift. For a large group, you can use the chat to collect shares. 

You can also send people back into the breakout rooms to debrief the experience, either with just their partner or with another pair. In Zoom you can move pairs of people in the breakout room menu so pairs are matched up with other pairs. This provides some continuity for the participants and allows the gift givers to hear how their gifts were received in a small, personal debrief sessions with another pair. 

Debrief prompts

What was it like to receive the gift?

What was it like to give a gift?

What stood out to you about this experience?

What are you learning? 

Variation - groups of 3
Do this in groups of 3, rotating roles of gift giver, receiver, and observer. 

Variation - made-up holidays

1. Person A gives the person next to her (person B) an imaginary gift for a nonexistent holiday or occasion. It’s a useless, broken, or terrible gift.

3. Person B thanks them profusely.

4. Person B then tells Person A why it’s such a great gift and how they’ll use it.

The made-up holidays can be as fun as the horrible gifts. ie National Nothing Day (and gave nothing) and National Gibberish Day (and made no sense) and National Book Day (gave a book with no pages) etc. Participants can use any object and raise its status to a National Holiday.

this variation by Robin Fox of Social Eyes


This game is an adaption of an improvisational theater game where people mime giving gifts to their partner. First learned from fellow colleagues at an Applied Improvisation Network Conference.

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