"The Gifts Culture" Activity

Description of the activity

"The Gifts Culture" activity explores one of the CISV peace education content areas - diversity. The culture of making presents is a prime example of differences between people and their backgrounds, and also how that might affect their perception of the world.

The participants will reflect upon the possible reasons that make people different. Through the activity the participants gain necessary attitudes (A), skills (S), and knowledge (K), which enable them to recognize and appreciate others perspective, contribute to group discussions - by developing and practicing positive communication and active listening skills -, and link the theme of the activity to their daily life.

"The Gifts Culture"  is also a great occasion for participants to have some fun and show their creativity and acting skills, while carrying an educational content. The activity is aimed to both educational and social purposes.

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Materials and Background Preparation

  • Time: 60-90 minutes;
  • Number of participants:  unlimited (but not less than 8-10);
  • Group size:  each group should consist of 8-12 persons (the optimal number is 10);
  • Materials: paper with characters`description, printed and cut; various materials for presents: e.g. pens, markers, color pencils, scissors, tape, rope, paper sheets (color and white), cartons, old newspapers, plasticine, etc.

The Gifts Culture - Characters

Remember that planning and preparation are as important as the implementation. The better you will prepare the activity the more likely it will work!

Read the activity documents (activity template and attachment with characters), prepare materials and go through the questions for debriefing. If you have any questions, contact us! Enjoy!

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Do (30-45 minutes):

The participants are divided into groups of 8-10 people. Each participant gets a piece of paper (e.g. by a lot) with a character to play and the name of another character to partner with (characters differ within the group but every group gets the same characters); at this stage, participants cannot tell their character to others. Based on the short description of their character, participants craft a gift with provided materials, which will be afterwards given to the person they are partnered with. It is very important for the purpose of the activity that the gifts made by participants match their own character's profile (e.g. if your character is the Princess, craft a present that she would like to receive, not what would your partner like to get).

After the gift-making part is finished, the participants from each group -together with a facilitator- gather around the table to attend a party, during which they will exchange gifts with their partner. The exchange should go pair-by-pair so that all participants could see the gifts made by others. When exchanging their gifts, participants shortly describe the present they crafted, without giving any information on why they made such gift (e.g."This is a very exclusive designer's handbag from this year's collection.").

Debrefing (30-45 minutes):

After the exchange, the participants discuss in pairs about the gift they received and most of all if they think their own character enjoyed it or not, and what are the reasons for it. At this point the participants can reveal their character to the others.

The whole group should continue then debriefing with the facilitator. We set up some questions for debriefing, following the reflect-generalize-apply steps. You can find everything  in the activity template below:

The Gifts Culture - Activity Template

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Tips for facilitators:

- If the number of the participants is not even, the exchange of gifts might be done between three, and not two, participants (e.g. Princess-Slum Kid-Polynesian Chef). When changing the pairings, bear in mind that characters have been paired  to consist of people with very different backgrounds and likings.

- The characters are completely fictional and are not meant to represent any real persons.

- It is very important for the purpose of the activity that participants act according to their own character and make presents suitable for themselves. That also includes being honest about their reaction to the presents they have received. If necessary, remind them about it.

Adapting the activity to your needs

Feel free to make changes and to adapt to the needs of your participants.


Let us know whenever you apply this activity, take pictures and share them with us through evs@fredsutdanning.no

Get feedbacks and share their impressions with us too!


Asia & Fiocco

Special thanks to David Gomez Canon - member of the Jirafa Project - for the pictures!