5 Fun Christmas Gift Exchange Games - (2023)

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5 Fun Christmas Gift Exchange Games - (1)

When I think about Christmas gift exchange games, the traditional white elephant game and Secret Santa come to mind. Although these gift exchange games are really fun, they take a lot of coordination ahead of time.

My usual classic Christmas party game is hosting a Secret Santa. The problem is that this gift exchange can take a lot of time to organize. Assigning names, communicating information and finding a date for the final gift giving all takes weeks of prep work.

The white elephant gift exchange is similar to a Secret Santa, but has a sneaky factor. Basically, you can steal gifts away from people. Although it can be a lot of fun, it doesn’t work for every crowd.

Instead of one of these classic games, why not try a creative twist on your Christmas gift exchange this holiday season?

I have listed below five of my favorite Christmas gift exchange games. They are fun and creative variations on the classics. And are sure to keep guests entertained and having a good time at your Christmas party.

5 Fun Christmas Gift Exchange Games - (2)

Christmas Gift Exchange Game with Dice

This is probably my favorite type of the Christmas Gift Exchange Games. Something about having the roll of the dice determine your fate of the gift that you receive.

Each dice number corresponds to a different action to take with the wrapped gift. (List what each dice number corresponds to)

To play, guests sit in a circle holding a random wrapped gift. Then, the first person rolls the dice. They read the instructions that match their dice roll. For example, if they roll a 1 then everyone passes their gift to the right.

Play until everyone has landed on “Unwrap your gift” or the gifts have been passed around multiple times. Then, invite guests to open their gifts.

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To make play easier, you can use our Free Printable Christmas Gift Exchange Game so everyone knows what to do. I created an 8 inch x 10 inch version and 5 inch x 7 inch version.


Print on festive copy paper (red, green or white) or even on kraft paper (affiliates). Then, give a copy to each player to follow along. Or display on heavier cardstock for everyone to see.

I also added a few more festive versions of the Christmas Gift Exchange Game in our shop here in case you want one to match an event theme.

Left Right Christmas Game

This Christmas gift exchange game is all about being a good listener. Gather guests in a circle. Give each guest a random gift. Read them the left right poem. When the poem says “right”, they pass their gifts to the right. When it says “left”, they pass their gifts to the left.

After the poem is over, the gifts belong to whomever is currently holding them. If guests end up with the same gift that they brought, invite individual swapping. Most people don’t want to go home with something that they came with.

Then, invite guests to open the gifts. So much fun!

There are a couple different versions of these left right Christmas games that you can use. Check out our Free Printable Left Right Christmas Game about Santa’s Nice List Or we have this other fun ORIGINAL Left Right Christmas Game featuring Stella the Just Right Reindeer in our shop.

I can just imagine the laughter and joy trying to figure out which way to pass the gift next.

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Hot Potato Gift Pass

Do you remember playing hot potato at birthdays when you were a kid? The one holding the hot potato was out. Please note that this “potato” was only figurative. Normally, we passed around a bean bag or other small stuffed object.

The goal of this classic birthday game was not to be the one left holding the “potato”.

This Christmas version is similar, but includes Christmas music.

How to Play –

1. Gather guests around in a circle.

2. Hand out two gifts to guests. To keep the gift passing moving, it’s probably best to start them at different sides of the circle.

(Video) Christmas Gift Exchange Game

3. When the music starts, guests pass the gifts around the circle.

4. Then when the music stops, whoever is holding the gift keeps it and is out of the game. Continue playing until everyone receives a gift.

Gift Exchange Card Game

This card game idea is similar to the dice gift exchange game, but using cards. There are a variety of gift exchange card games to choose from. You can find one of our favorite versions here (affiliate).

To play, assemble guests in a circle. Each person has a random gift. The first player draws a card. He does what the card says and returns the card to the bottom of the pile. Then, the next person chooses a card. Keep picking cards until the deck has gone around the circle at least once. You can choose how many times to go around.

Once the play is complete, each person unwraps the new gift that they have.

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Pass the Christmas Parcel

To play this Christmas gift exchange game, you’ll have to ask guests to wrap their gift in multiple layers of different wrapping papers.

Layers and layers of wrapping paper.

Not necessarily, but you need a lot of wrapping paper.

Each gift should have at least five layers depending on how many times you want to pass the gift and how many people there are. But I know games where the gifts have had 15, so it’s really up to you.

To make wrapping the gift easier (and another party activity), set up a gift wrapping station with a variety of wrapping paper. (Check your local thrift shop for half used wrapping paper rolls or the dollar store carries inexpensive Christmas wrap.)

Ask guests to arrive with a wrapped gift in one layer of wrapping paper. Once at the party, they can wrap the gift in the additional layers of wrapping paper. This way you can guarantee that each gift has the correct number of layers.

How to Play

1. Invite everyone to sit in a circle.

(Video) The Gift Exchange Game (TGEG) - Restore the fun to your Holiday Gift Exchange

2. Hand out two to three wrapped gifts depending on how many people there are and how many rounds you’d like to play.

3. Tell guests that when you play the Christmas music, they need to pass the gifts to their right. They continue passing the gifts until the music stops. Then, each person holding a gift takes off one layer of wrapping paper.

4. Play continues until the last layer of wrapping paper is taken off. Whoever is holding the unwrapped gift gets to keep it and is out of the game.

5. You can play additional rounds until everyone has a gift.

A variation would be to switch passing directions each time the music starts again. This way the gifts would be going both ways around the circle.

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The Most Important Thing to Remember

For each of these Christmas gift exchange games, guests need to bring a wrapped gift. A gift exchange game doesn’t work if guests forget their gift or bring something unwrapped. You may want to have gift wrap on hand in case guests forget to wrap their presents before arriving. It’s the holiday season. You never know.

When sending out your Christmas party invitations, be sure to mention that you will be hosting a Christmas gift exchange game. (Our editable holiday invitations let you add any text that you need to tell your guests – including information on a gift exchange.)

Let guests know that they need to bring a gift to the party. And make sure that you set a budget for the gifts. Gift exchange games are never fun if one guest brings a gift valued at $100 and another chooses a yard sale find.

Once guests arrive at the party, have a space to put the gifts. Either under the tree or on a table works well. This way you can disperse “random” gifts when it’s game time.

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Photo courtesy of Juliana Malta

What Kinds of Gifts Work for Christmas Gift Exchange Games?

When organizing your Christmas gift exchange, set a reasonable budget. Depending on the party, anything from $5 to $20 would work well. Let guests know about the budget to help them with their shopping.

Since everyone has different tastes and interests, unlike a Secret Santa, gifts should be more on the neutral side. Think socks, things for the kitchen, candles, self care items or something fun. You can find some great Christmas gift exchange suggestions here to share with guests.


Depending on your guests, you might want to add a theme to make gift buying more fun. It can also help people focus on specific gift options.

Here are some favorite gift theme ideas to consider:

  • travel
  • coffee and tea
  • self care
  • animals
  • specific color
  • games (this could be really fun for adults)
  • kitchen
  • mugs
  • socks
  • ornaments or something Christmas
  • books (this is especially fun for kids)
  • sports
  • pet (works if everyone in the group has a pet)
  • go green (all of the gifts are environmentally friendly)
  • in the news (choose gifts that relate to things that happened in the news this past year)
  • crafts
  • something practical (think cleaning supplies and toilet paper)
  • staying warm (fleece blankets, socks, tea, candles, bath salts)
  • the great outdoors
  • recipes (mason jar filled with your ingredients – check out this cookie mix for inspiration– with a recipe attached)
  • wine and beer
  • memories (something that reminds people of their childhood)

If you choose a gift giving theme, be sure that information is on the invitation as well. You’d hate to pick a theme and no one knows about it.

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How Do I Choose the Best Christmas Gift Exchange Game?

When choosing a Christmas gift exchange game for your party, consider your guests. The number and their ages can be important.

A good rule of thumb is that the more complicated the gift exchange game, the fewer people should play. A gift exchange game with a lot of rules can be hard to coordinate with a larger group. If you have lots of guests attending your holiday event, choose a simpler game that’s easy to follow.

Also, consider the ages of your guests. Many young children don’t understand “stealing”. Once they have a gift, they want to keep it. If you’re playing the gift exchange game with younger children, consider eliminating this rule. Or call it “swapping” instead of stealing. And maybe make it optional.

Kids also sometimes have trouble following oral directions. So the Left Right Poem and Gift Exchange Card Game might be harder to do. I think my favorite Christmas gift exchange games for kids are the Hot Potato Gift Pass and Pass the Parcel. Most kids can easily follow the starting and stopping of the music. And it’s fun tossing gifts to each other around a circle as quickly as you can.

Love these Christmas gift exchange games and want to save them for later? Be sure to pin it below.

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Want to play the Christmas Gift Exchange Dice Game at your holiday party? Be sure to grab your Free Printable Christmas Gift Exchange Dice Game.

  • 8 inch by 10 inch Christmas Gift Exchange version
  • 5 inch by 7 inch Christmas Gift Exchange version

You can also find an assortment of other holiday game printables in our shop here. And for more Christmas party game ideas, check out some of our favorite Kids Christmas Party Games. They are sure to make your holiday celebrating easy and fun.

Happy Celebrating,


(Video) Gift Exchange game / Christmas game for groups / Gift exchange ideas

Related Posts


How can I make my Christmas gift exchange more fun? ›

Play a word game.

Try Finish the Carol or Word Guess; either works for a kid-friendly gift exchange. Finish the Carol: Sit in a circle and pass each gift around to the tune of a holiday song. Designate someone to stop the song mid-verse. The person who is holding the gift has to finish the line.

How do you play Christmas gift exchange games? ›

Everyone brings a wrapped gift and gets a number. The first person chooses a gift and unwraps it, the second person can steal that gift or choose another, and so on. I don't even have to write out exact details because you all know. It's the same game everyone plays at their holiday party every year.

What is the 5 Christmas gift rule? ›

In the 5 Gift Rule, the first four gifts are the same - something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. But the 5th? The 5th is the real winner. It's something they need or want but don't really know it.

How do you play steal the gift game? ›

The first person opens a wrapped gift, and the turn ends. On subsequent turns, each person has the choice to either unwrap a new present or to steal another's. When a person's gift is stolen, that person can either choose another wrapped gift to open or can steal from another player.

How do you play the white elephant Christmas game? ›

The White Elephant Game Rules

Bring a wrapped, anonymous gift to the shindig. Draw numbers to determine who gets to unwrap a present when. Sit in a circle and place the gifts in the center, preferably under a festive tree. The person who drew #1 selects a gift from the pile, opens it, and holds it up for all to see.

How do you play Christmas grab bag game? ›

A grab bag is a crazy way for each person to receive a random gift. The basic idea of a grab bag is that each person participating in the event brings a wrapped gift that is placed in a large bag. The bag is then passed around the room for each person to randomly reach in and grab a gift.

How do you play Dirty Santa gift exchange? ›

How To Play Dirty Santa Or White Elephant
  1. A gift can be stolen no more than three times. ...
  2. A gift can also only be stolen once per turn. ...
  3. If your gift is stolen, you can't steal it right back. ...
  4. In one rule variation, each participant can only be stolen from three times.

How do you play the bad Santa game? ›

'Bad Santa' Kris Kringle

Whoever gets number one gets to pick a present and unwrap it, and so on. The catch is that anyone who unwraps a present can steal a gift from the person before them. If family member number two decides they don't like the present they've unwrapped, they can swap it for yours instead!

How do you play the sock exchange game? ›

The Exchange
  1. Everyone puts their stuffed socks in a pile and draws a number.
  2. The person with #1 gets the first pick. Once they have chosen their socks, they open the pair and reveal the goodies inside for all to see.
  3. It's time for the person with #2. ...
  4. This continues on until everyone has a pair of socks and goodies.

How do you play Christmas bingo with gifts? ›

How it works is everyone brings a gift. You start playing bingo and whoever calls out the first bingo gets to choose a gift. They unwrap it for all to see and then we continue playing. We allow two other wins before we clear cards and start again.

How do you play roll the dice Christmas gift exchange? ›

The general idea of the game is this – everyone brings a gift (or multiple gifts) and the gifts get passed around the table based on the roll of the dice until all gifts get unwrapped. As soon as all gifts are unwrapped the game is over and everyone goes home with whatever gifts they ended up with.

What are five sense gifts? ›

The concept of a “five senses gift” is to buy or create gifts that appeals to the basic senses of the human body: sound, touch, taste, smell and sight. Whether you choose to give each gift at once, or space them out over the holidays, five senses gifting is a great way to spoil your loved ones!

How do you play the Tulip gift? ›

Shuffle it up and draw the first five cards to add them to the festival. If there are less than five

How do you play Yankee Swap? ›

In Yankee Swap, each participant brings a wrapped, unmarked gift and places it in a designated area. Guests are given numbers as they arrive, or their names are randomly drawn, and they select and unwrap gifts from the pile in that order — with a twist.

How do you play the Chinese gift game? ›

Rules For A Chinese Christmas Exchange

Whomever chooses #1, goes first. Selecting gifts – #1 may select any of the unwrapped gifts. Whomever selected #2 can either take the opened gift or unwrap another gift. If the guest takes #1's gift, then #1 gets to select another gift from the pile.

What is Pollyanna Christmas game? ›

Pollyanna, also known as “Secret Santa” is a Western Christmas tradition. In which groups, or community are randomly assigned a person they will give a gift to on Christmas. The identify of the gift giver is a secret not to be revealed.

How do you play rob your neighbor? ›

Each succeeding player, in numerical order, selects a gift from the table and decides if they want to "rob their neighbor" of an opened gift. If they do select a gift that has already been opened, they exchange it for the gift they chose from the table.

How do you play the Pink Elephant game? ›

You start by asking "How many pink elephants are in this room?" The participants guess until you reveal that the correct answer, which is 8. Then you ask again, "Now how many pink elephants are there?" They guess until you reveal the answer is 7.

What is the saran wrap Christmas game? ›

The saran wrap ball game is a fun game for both adults and kids of all ages. It is made up of various prizes wrapped tightly inside a ball of saran wrap. The goal of the game is to unravel the saran wrap to reveal as many prizes as you can during your turn. The prizes you unwrap, you get to keep!

How do you play the game Christmas pudding? ›

To play, players take it in turns to draw a card from four categories, 'clues' 'things' 'connections 'words'. Next, the button on the Christmas pudding timer is pressed and players have limited time to think of an answer before quickly passing the pud on to the next player who must also come up with a suitable answer.

What is the Christmas game with oven mitts? ›

Give one player a pair of oven mitts and the present, and the person on his/her left the cup with 2 dice. On “go” the player with the oven mitts puts them on and tries to unwrap the present one layer at a time. At the same time, the player with the dice rolls them until he/she gets doubles.

How do you play White Elephant gift with dice? ›

  1. Bring a wrapped white elephant gift that costs $5 or less.
  2. Sit in a circle with the bowls filled with the dice in the middle.
  3. Roll the dice when they come to you.
  4. If you get doubles, select a white elephant gift. ...
  5. Everyone gets a turn hyping their gift like a professional infomercial pitchman.

What is a Dirty Santa Christmas gift? ›

ICYDK, Dirty Santa is a light-hearted gift swap with a competitive streak. It's similar to a game of White Elephant in that each person brings a funny, kitschy, or just plain weird gift within a given theme or budget—the more unique and LOL-worthy, the better.

How do I start the dice gift exchange game? ›


Sit in a circle and have everyone start with the gift they brought. The first person rolls the dice. Whatever number they roll is what they do with their gift. Continue taking turns until everyone has played.

What is fill the stocking game? ›

Place a bowl of candy and a spoon in front of each team. The first child in each team takes a candy from the bowl with the spoon. They then carry the candy on the spoon to the stocking, drop it in, and race back to the next person in line. The second person in line then takes the spoon and so on.

How do you play Christmas Carol bingo? ›

As soon as all your guests arrive, hand out the bingo sheets and candy markers. Turn on the tunes and with each song, make sure to place a marker over the corresponding picture on your bingo sheet. Continue as you listen to the playlist. Once someone gets bingo (5 in a row), reward them with a small prize.

How do you play a Saran Wrap gift? ›

Begin by sitting everyone in a circle and giving one person the saran wrap ball and the person to their left the bowl/pie plate and dice. To play you must keep the ball on your lap at all times and unwrap it as fast as you can while the person to your left keeps rolling the dice until they get doubles.

How do you play the Snowman dice game? ›

You can roll dice anytime you want reroll dice as much as you want you need to get an arrow. And

What is the 4 gift rule? ›

A trend which has gained traction over the past few years on social media is the "four gift rule". Parents pledge to give their offspring just four presents: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.

What is the 3 gift rule? ›

One popular tactic is to have your kids narrow their gift lists to just three categories: something they want (say, a new video game), something they need (like a puffer coat) and something to read (the Ramona series has been calling their name).

What is the 7 year rule for gifts? ›

The 7 year rule

No tax is due on any gifts you give if you live for 7 years after giving them - unless the gift is part of a trust. This is known as the 7 year rule. If you die within 7 years of giving a gift and there's Inheritance Tax to pay on it, the amount of tax due after your death depends on when you gave it.

How many Christmas gifts is too many? ›

Some people say that three gifts are sufficient since that's all the baby Jesus got. Others go by a “rule of four” or seven or 10. And some parents delight in celebrating abundance and want Christmas to be a time of merry excess in contrast to the disciplines of regular life.

› Christmas_Party_Gift... ›

Are you looking for fun and creative ways to exchange gifts with family or co-workers? Take your Christmas gift exchange to the next level this holiday season b...
These creative Christmas gift exchange games and ideas can help make the holiday season a little more memorable and affordable for all involved.
Oct 31, 2019 - DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission. Also an Amazon ...

How do you do 3 favorite things as a gift exchange? ›

For medium-sized groups, have guests bring three identical gifts unwrapped. Display all the favorite things in the center of the room or on a table. Have everyone share why they brought their favorite thing, then draw numbers from a bowl. In numerical order, take turns selecting a gift from the pile.

What is the 4 gift rule? ›

A trend which has gained traction over the past few years on social media is the "four gift rule". Parents pledge to give their offspring just four presents: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.

What is the 3 gift rule? ›

One popular tactic is to have your kids narrow their gift lists to just three categories: something they want (say, a new video game), something they need (like a puffer coat) and something to read (the Ramona series has been calling their name).

How do you play the Chinese gift exchange game? ›

Prepare a set of numbered slips, folded and put in a bowl or hat; when you are ready to start everyone takes a number. The person who drew number 1 takes a gift from the pile, opens the gift and sits down with the gift in plain sight, generally on her lap. Then "2" then takes a gift, either from the pile or from 1.

What is a good gift exchange? ›

Gift exchange ideas for the workplace
  • Office gadgets. Office gadgets are some of the most popular gift ideas for work gift exchanges because of their affordability and practicality. ...
  • Food and snacks. ...
  • Beverages. ...
  • Trial memberships. ...
  • Movie tickets. ...
  • Handmade gifts. ...
  • Office accessories. ...
  • Gloves, mittens and cold-weather gear.

What is a gift Pollyanna? ›

While a gift for a white elephant gift exchange is traditionally something the recipient doesn't want or need, a pollyanna gift is usually something useful that anybody at the gift exchange could use or want. So something unisex, useful or able to be consumed is usually popular.

What is silly Santa gift exchange? ›

Typically, a Dirty Santa gift is something silly, funny, or just downright ridiculous. Hosts can choose a theme for the gifts such as DIY only, gag gifts, gifts inspired by a popular show, etc. Before the party, guests should wrap or bag their gift without a name or tag.

How do you play Dirty Santa gift exchange? ›

How To Play Dirty Santa Or White Elephant
  1. A gift can be stolen no more than three times. ...
  2. A gift can also only be stolen once per turn. ...
  3. If your gift is stolen, you can't steal it right back. ...
  4. In one rule variation, each participant can only be stolen from three times.

How do you do a Yankee Swap? ›

The basic rules of Yankee Swap begin just like White Elephant: Everyone is assigned a number at random, then the first player chooses a gift and opens it. The next player chooses their gift, then either opens it or swaps it for a previous player's unwrapped gift.

How much do you spend per child for Christmas? ›

How much does the average person spend on Christmas per child? American parents spend an average of $276 on their children (under 18) and $251 on themselves. In 2021, 48% of parents plan to spend the same amount of money. At the same time, 21% plan to spend less, and 13% intend to spend more.

How many presents should Santa give? ›

When it comes to an actual number that parents should aim for in terms of Christmas gifts, there may not be one perfect number, but there are guidelines to what is appropriate for children. Pop Sugar reports that three is the best number for presents when it comes to gifts under the tree.

What are the 3 most asked Christmas presents? ›

History of the 3 Gift Rule for Christmas

Gold – something of great value. Frankincense – the gift of something spiritual. Myrrh – this gift represented something for the body. Throughout the years we have kept the same ideas for the 3 gifts, but it like we mentioned, has become more modernized.

How many gifts is too many for Christmas? ›

Some people say that three gifts are sufficient since that's all the baby Jesus got. Others go by a “rule of four” or seven or 10. And some parents delight in celebrating abundance and want Christmas to be a time of merry excess in contrast to the disciplines of regular life.

How many presents should a child get at Christmas? ›

3 Gift Rule

The three gift-giving rule is based on the same number of gifts that Christ was given. Most parents consider three a magic number and like to gift their kids the same number of items.


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