There are many times when you have a group of individuals with gifts to exchange. Placing the gifts under the tree or on a table and calling out names can get boring year after year. Add a special method of gift distribution this year with our gift exchange games.
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Games are always fun, and we have gift exchange ideas that work with any age and on many different occasions. Gift exchange games add excitement to holiday gatherings and create memories. Read on to find the perfect gift exchange game for your party or get-together.
Christmas Gift Exchange Games
The biggest gift giving time of year is the Christmas holidays. Gifts are exchanged at work, school, and with friends and family. Our selection of Christmas gift exchange ideas and games includes some quick and simple games and some that take more time. Choose the perfect game from our list for your holiday get-together or party.
Secret Santa Gift Exchange Game
This traditional game is always a favorite, especially in the workplace. There are two variations of this gift giving game. The first begins with name drawing well before Christmas. Each person serves as a secret Santa for the person whose name is drawn, sending multiple small gifts. Alternatively, each person may purchase one larger gift for their recipient. Both games end with the secret Santa disclosing their identity.
Variations: If desired, each participant can create a list of things they would like to receive. When it is time to reveal identities, players can add a bit of additional fun by guessing who is their secret Santa.
Christmas Story Pass and Grab
Choose a familiar Christmas story, such as “Twas the Night before Christmas.”
Add the words Right, Left, and Across into the story. Whenever one of these words is said, each person must pass the gift they are holding either right, left, or to the person across from them. When you are finished telling the story, each person keeps whatever gift is in their hands.
Holiday “Never Have I Ever” Gift Exchange Game
Create a list of occasion-specific “Never Have I Ever” statements, one for each guest, such as the following:
- Never have I ever kissed a stranger on New Year’s Eve.
- Never have I ever eaten fruitcake.
- Never have I ever forgotten to use a gift card.
- Never have I ever had too much to drink at a holiday party.
- Never have I ever said I loved a gift I actually hated.
- Never have I ever been in a holiday play.
- Never have I ever forgotten what a wrapped gift contains.
- Never have I ever given the wrong gift to a person.
- Never have I ever had a Christmas without a tree.
- Never have I ever given a gift anonymously.
When your guests arrive, have them sit with their gifts in a circle on the floor or at a table. The gifts remain where they are, but the people switch seats in this game. The Never Have I Ever statements are placed in a bowl or basket in the middle of the group. Each person selects a statement from the bowl one at a time, reads it, and if they have done whatever is on the paper, they must choose a person to switch seats with. The game continues until each person has read a statement and either moved or remained in their seat.
Variation: Have each person open the gift they get when they read the statement. This adds the excitement of people trying to obtain a specific gift.
Gift Exchange Games for Kids
Kids and games go together, especially at parties. Our selection of gift exchange games for kids includes some old favorites and one to tickle the funny bone.
Cobweb Gift Exchange Game
This is a game best used for a small group. Purchase inexpensive balls of yarn or craft string at the dollar store – a different color for each guest. When your guests arrive, collect their exchange gifts and tie one end of the colored string or yarn to each package. Choose a room where the guests are not congregated. Unwind the rolls, going around and under furniture, making the paths as difficult as possible. Give each person the spool of yarn or string and let them “find” their gift.
Musical Chairs Gift Exchange
Have the children sit and remain in their chairs. Pass gifts as Christmas or other special occasion music plays. When the music stops, the child holding the gift opens it and gets to keep it. This child is then “out,” and the game continues until each child has received a gift.
Hot Potato Gift Exchange
Children love the ease and speed of this game, and it works well for gift exchanging. You will need a hand-held timer. Pass around your gifts one at a time. The child who has a gift when the timer goes off keeps the gift. Continue until each child receives a gift. You can open the gifts as the kids get them or wait until the end of the game.
Joke Match-up Gift Exchange Game
Kids love riddles and jokes and this game challenges their ability to find or remember the punch lines. Prior to the kids arriving, put the jokes and riddles on one slip of paper, and the answers on others. Put the punch lines on the packages. Have the kids take turns choosing a slip of paper with a joke or riddle and finding the gift with the correct punchline. Each kid reads the joke and punch line and then keeps the gift.
Family Gift Exchange Games
Family gift exchanges work well for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is difficult deciding how to distribute the gifts in a meaningful way. Often a family is so large, it become too expensive to buy a gift for everyone. Buying one gift for a gift exchange takes much less time and trouble than purchasing gifts for each family member.
Family Auction Gift Exchange
Your family probably has a Monopoly game. Use the money to hold an auction for your gift exchange. Begin by collection the gifts and distributing the money – the same amount to each player. A parent acts as the auctioneer and will receive the last gift remaining. Prior to the auction, players can hold the gifts, feeling and shaking them to try to determine the contents. The person who bids highest on a gift may keep it.
Variation: Each time a person wins a gift, they open it and show it to the group. When the auction is “over,” the auctioneer announces another auction for opened gifts. This creates a great deal of competition and fun as family members try to get the present they really want!
Hidden Gifts Treasure Hunt
Purchase inexpensive, small gifts at a dollar store, wrap them, and hide them around the house. Make sure you create a list of where they are hidden, as some will probably be missed. If family members have trouble finding gifts, use pre-written hints to help keep them finding hiding places.
Gift Exchange Games for Large Groups
Frequently the holiday season finds us hosting parties with large groups, with some guests who do not know each other. A gift exchange game is a perfect way to break the ice and create a comfortable party atmosphere for your guests. Try an old favorite, a familiar game adapted for your special occasion, or one that is new and exciting. We have a variety of games to choose from and make your party or get-together memorable for everyone.
Random Statement Gift Exchange Game
Prior to the party the host makes a list of random statements that will probably fit one or more guests. Each statement is read aloud and those to whom it applies stand up and exchange gifts with each other. These individuals remain seated throughout the rest of the game with their gift. Continue until everyone has received a gift from someone else.
Guess the Guest Gift Exchange Game
As your guests arrive, collect their gifts and write a number on each. Give the same number to the guest on a notecard or small piece of paper and have them write a silly or strange fact about themselves on the back. Place all the notecards or slips of paper in a box or basket. When it is time to distribute gifts, draw a paper, read the statement on the back, and let the guests guess who it is about. The first person to guess right gets the gift and is out of the game. Continue until everyone has received a gift.
Christmas Carol Completion Gift Exchange Game
Have your guests sit in a circle with the pile of wrapped gifts in the middle. Play Christmas carols while a gift from the pile is passed. Stop the song randomly and the person with the gift must provide the next word in the song. If they can do so, they may keep the gift. The play continues, with a new gift from the pile. Each player may either keep the gift if they can provide the word for the song, or exchange the gift with another player. Gifts can either be unwrapped as players win them, or left wrapped until everyone has a gift from the pile.
Spin the Candy Cane Gift Exchange Game
A Christmas version of the popular kissing game, use a large candy cane as a spinner. Have your players sit in a circle on the floor or at a large table. Play Christmas music as your guests spin to see who picks a gift from the pile of wrapped goodies. Players unwrap their gifts and show the whole group what they received. Each player can either choose a new gift, or take a gift from a previous winner. When the last person spins, the game is over.
Christmas Word Guess Gift Exchange
Prior to your Christmas party or get-together, tape a holiday phrase with a missing word on each gift. Each person chooses a gift and answers the fill-in-the-blank holiday phrase prior to unwrapping their gift. If you wish, you can use the entire “Twas the Night before Christmas” poem. For example, “The stockings were hung by the chimney with ______.”
Roll-of-the-Dice Gift Exchange Game
Distribute wrapped gifts to guests while they sit in a circle. Prepare a list prior to your party or get-together with an instruction for each number on a dice as follows:
1 – trade gifts with the person across from you
2 – trade your gift with the person to your left
3 – trade your gift with the person to your right
4 – trade your gift with a person of your choice
5 – unwrap your gift
6 – unwrap your gift
Choose a guest to roll the dice first. Then proceed around the circle as many times as you wish with each guest rolling the dice and following the instructions associated with the number they roll.
Gift Exchange Games for Small Groups
An intimate dinner party with friends, lunch with the girls, a birthday party with gifts for the guests all make ideal venues for our small group gift exchange games. Try one at your next get-together or party.
Mystery Grab Bag Gift Exchange
Prior to your event, ask guests to wrap their item to disguise the contents. Choose someone to begin by feeling the gift and guessing what it might possibly be by its shape, weight, and even shaking it if they wish. Make a note of their guess. Continue until everyone has a gift and has made a guess. Then have the gifts opened and see who guessed correctly.
Guess the Giver Gift Exchange Game
Collect the gifts your guests bring, making sure they have not put their name on them. Distribute the gifts one at a time and have each person guess who it is from. If they guess correctly, they open the gift. If not, they need to draw a consequence from a jar or basket. Here are a few suggestions of consequences to challenge your guests:
- Sing a Christmas song.
- Recite “Twas the night before Christmas.”
- Name all of Santa’s reindeer.
- Tell about your most memorable Christmas.
- Tell about the craziest gift you ever received.
- Tell a Christmas joke.
Keep having guests take turns guessing until everyone receives a gift.
If you wish, you may have each person open the gift before guessing who it is from. This might work best if all of the participants do not know each other well.
White Elephant Gift Exchange
The term “White Elephant” refers to any item that is useless or troublesome, especially one either expensive or difficult to maintain or get rid of. You may wish to set a price limit. Have your guests wrap their gifts, and place them in a pile. Number small pieces of paper with one number for each guest. Have each guest pick a number. Number one goes first and picks a present from the pile. Number two can pick from the pile or take number one’s gift. This continues until everyone has a turn. A gift can only be stolen three times before it becomes safe and a person gets (or has to!) keep it.
Gift exchanging is always fun. Our selection of gift exchange ideas and games for parties, holidays, and special occasions provides clever methods of distributing gifts. It might be a good idea to tell your guests a price limit – high and low – so no one is disappointed when they receive their gift. Whether you are exchanging gifts at work or as a family, choosing one of our games is sure to provide lasting memories. Have fun!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.