So I modified a custom from Native American culture -- the giveaway blanket, which exists in many variations -- to create the giveaway box. The box format makes it easy to store leftover items between events. Some useful parameters ...
* Start with a sturdy box, preferably with a lid; a boot box makes a nice container. Then seed it with a handful of appealing gifts. Aim for a mix of things in different categories, to cover all genders and personalities. Leave them unwrapped so people can see their options.
* Items should be small enough to fit in the box. We've included a few that were bigger, like decorated plates, but most things are small. Think stocking stuffers, if that's your custom.
* Handmade items are fine. Gently used items are fine: "The gift must move!" Duplicates are fine, and may be included as a set or separated so several people can each take one.
* A theme is optional. We find that bringing out the box for any given holiday will attract incoming items for that holiday, so we've had waves of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc. gifts.
* It's not about the expense. There doesn't have to be a minimum or maximum, and indeed, things don't have to cost money at all. In practice, most of the stuff in the box was originally $5-$20.
* Avoid perishable or very fragile items unless you plan to empty the box in the current event and restart it later. Some people like that version and it's fine. For an ongoing giveaway box, durable items work better. Glass or ceramic items can work if they are in a carton or padded sleeve of their own -- many things come this way.
* Some things that often appear in our giveaway box include: books, small bowls or plates, coffee cups, candles, candleholders, incense, incense burners, jewelry such as brooches or bracelets, craft supplies, mirrors, keychains and other clips, decorated coasters, little boxes or pouches, pocket-size games, fancy pencils or pens, blank journals, window prisms or other ornaments, stones with words on them, and refrigerator magnets.
* To use the box, the basic rule is that you put one thing in and take one thing out. If the box is running low, you may switch to adding two and taking one; or you can do a craft or donation day when everyone puts one thing in but doesn't take anything out. If the box is overflowing, you may try taking two and adding one. You can make just one pass around the group and then stop, or allow people to go back if they want to trade in what they already have. One pass is advisable in larger groups; multiple turns work better in smaller groups.