Christmas Gift Exchange Game

by Linda
(South Carolina)

Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas

Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas

Over 30 fun ideas for a Christmas gift exchange game in answer to Linda's question..."What is a fun way to exchange gifts?"

We have used the same one every year, where you pick a gift and then someone can steal it or pick a new gift. I need something different. Any ideas?

Christmas Gift Exchange Response

Hi Linda!

I like the Christmas right left game. Of course, all the gifts would need to be suitable for all those attending. If there are kids and adults, I would make two separate circles for playing the game.

The right left game involves reading a story that has several rights and lefts in it. Each time the word left is heard, gifts are passed to the left. Each time the word right is heard, gifts are passed to the right.

Have your guests sit in a circle, each with a gift in their lap. Have someone read the story live or tape it beforehand if you want absolutely everyone to participate in passing the gifts. When the story is over each person gets to keep the gift they have at that time.

There are several Christmas right left games available. There is a nativity story right left game available at

More Printable Left Right Games

Christmas Gift Exchange Game Idea #2
Have everyone sit in a circle and start with a gift. Play a favorite Christmas carol on your stereo, while 1-3 dice are being passed around the circle (space them out). Each person rolls and then passes the dice. If they roll a six, they can trade packages with whomever they want. At the end of the song everyone keeps the package in front of them.

Christmas Gift Exchange Game Idea #3
Number each gift as it arrives. Then, give the person who brought the gift a square of paper with the corresponding number. Have the person write down one little known fact about him/herself and then fold the paper and throw it in a bowl, hat, gift bag, whatever. (This is great for getting to each other even better.) When the gift exchange starts, have the host draw a piece of paper and read the little known fact (do not mention the package number). The person to guess who is it first is given the package with the corresponding number. Once someone guesses correctly they are out of the game. The game continues till there is one gift left, which is of course for the host.


P.S. There is a Christmas Auction idea someone submitted that sounds like it could also be a fun gift exchange alternative.

Printable Gift Exchange Game

Perfect for dirty Santa or secret Santa games or ornament exchange and white elephant Christmas parties.

IMPORTANT: Our resource for this game recently closed shop. If your are interested in an alternative, let us know HERE! Be sure to note the type of game you're looking for and this page.

Comments for Christmas Gift Exchange Game

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Highest Bidder
by: Anonymous

One year we were 20 at our office party. Everyone brought in a gift. I prepared 20 envelopes with Monopoly money in them. Each had a different amount of money in it. We started off by bidding on gift. Gift went to highest bidder. We went through the bidding process for all gifts. If you wanted to bid on a gift but didn't have enough money, you could borrow from someone in exchange for a special favor i.e.: bring coffee to his or her desk for a week, buy him or her lunch the following week, remove snow from his/her vehicle at next snow storm. It was really fun!!!

Gift Card Exchange
by: JoAnn

We have several family members who are newly weds, new parents, etc., and can't really afford to buy gifts. We have everyone buy a $25.00 gift card and see who can wrap it in the most creative way. We've had a gift card wrapped in plastic and placed between layers on a cake; one wrapped in plastic and frozen in a chunk of ice with a nut picker attached to chip away at the ice; one in the middle of a Santa Claus cookie jar filled with jello and topped with whipped cream, one hidden in a ginger bread house; one pinned in a decorated Christmas tree which was actually a tumble weed; one wrapped in yards and yards of yarn. It is fun to see the creative wrapping and it is cost neutral since everyone gets a $25.00 gift card.

Reply: That sounds so fun JoAnn. Such a creative idea.

How My Girl Scouts Exchange Gifts
by: Christine R.

We play "Thief Bingo Gift Swap". I have 2 decks of cards, and enough gifts for everyone, as well as the gifts that the girls bring to exchange. I pass out the cards in 1 deck to the girls until all cards are gone from that deck. The gifts all get piled in the center of the room & the girls sit in a circle around them. I use the other deck of cards to call the card number (example: King of Spades), and whoever has that card gives it to me and then chooses a gift from the center. This goes on till all the gifts are taken. Cards called after that are turned in and the person "steals" a gift from someone else until all cards are collected. Everyone should have 2 gifts. If they don't, whoever doesn't have any or has only 1 can take a gift from one of the other girls. Then they open their gifts. It is always a fun game & lots of laughs.

vintage game
by: cyndi

I am hosting the school nurse Christmas party this year and have decide on a vintage gift exchange. I need help thinking of a game to go along with it. Any ideas?

Racking My Brain!
by: Jean

I would appreciate some help if anyone has an idea to solve my dilemma. I am having a Christmas party where 9 adults & 4 children will be attending. I need an idea of a creative game or exchange where all the adults give to the kids. The problem is 2 kids belong to one couple and the other 2 to another couple with all the rest of the adults--childless. The kids are different sexes and very different ages. If each child just brings a gift to give to another then several of the adults are left out and if we just open it up and let everyone just bring a generic gift and do a white elephant or left right game the teenage girl may get stuck with the gift meant for the toddler boy. Any ideas?

Thank You
by: Lillian

Thank You!
Thank You!
I'm using these in my 6 middle school classes too! They love it!!!

Christmas Gift Exchange Idea
by: Anonymous

Set chairs in a circle and everyone gets one present.

Last year at the office, our gift exchange consisted of putting approx 10 "tells" in a hat. They were drawn out one at a time and if the "tell" had to do with you, you left your gift on the chair and switched places with someone who was also up and moving.

Tell Examples:

If you have a tattoo, leave your gift and move to a different chair. * if you are a grandparent * if you have ever gotten a speeding ticket * if you have traveled outside the united states * If you are wearing red, etc. etc.

It's funny because we also had "if you have ever been arrested" in the mix and it was drawn out last! Made for some interesting conversation.

Toothpick Game
by: Anonymous

In the toothpick game, if one person gets several
gifts how about those without a gift?

Personalize the Left/Right Christmas Story
by: Dangerdrangoness

Each year I write my own LEFT/RIGHT Christmas Story about the accomplishments (or embarrassments) of each of my family members or guests. It is the highlight of our day!

Reply: How ironic. I just wrote one of these personalized right left stories for someone. I'd love to see one of yours. Care to share?

Hot Potato
by: Anonymous

I had each of my guests bring an unwrapped gift. They stood in a circle and played a version of hot potato. We passed one gift at a time around a circle when the music stops the person holding the gift keeps it, and they are out of the game, the next gift is passed and when the music stops that person keeps it and so on until all the gifts are passed out. It is a lot of fun, since the gifts are unwrapped the good gifts gets passes around very slowly and the gag gifts get thrown around the room very quickly since they don't want to get caught with it.

Reply: I can just picture the wild frenzy now. This could even be fun with wrapped gifts. Awesome idea.

Gift Certificates
by: Anonymous

We have done a maximum Christmas gift card given as a white elephant of $20. The trick is the manner in which you wrap the gift. Each participant gets a theme to use or where the certificate should be purchased. One time we took 20 one dollar bills and created a wreath - tip money was the theme. Bath and Body works theme we took a $20 gift card and inserted it into a clear large mason jar full of liquid clear soap. Bar theme $20 card inside a sealed beer bottle. Bakery, baked inside a cookie. We then cover all presents when they are brought in the house and pull them out based on who came first, first choice of the covered gift. If they don't look at the gift they also get to "steal" another's gift/rather exchange it, if the participant won points given thru out the night on other games or dinner votes. Once uncovered the gift is yours to keep.

Reply: Way to take the creativity up a notch. So fun! The wrapping is as exciting as the prize.

Tie One On!
by: Karen

Over the years my husband has been given a collection of Christmas ties, most from the dollar store. This year I'm giving each person a tie and a partner to work with. Using only one hand they must tie their partners tie together with their partners help also using only one hand. The first pair to finish wins the bottle of Baileys so they can truly tie one on.

Reply: Such a clever idea Karen and love the play on words. Thanks so much for sharing.

Great Office Gift Exchange Idea
by: Sue

Instead of exchanging gifts at the office for each other, try this! Pick names and keep it secret. You purchase a gift/toy for that person's "inner child" or what you think they may have liked to receive when they were a child. NO LIMIT on what you spend. Can be appropriate for any childhood age from 2-16! Wrap it up, and put the person's name on the gift tag. No need to put your name on it. At the office party, everyone gets to unwrap their gift, one by one. Lots of amusement and enjoyment! I've seen everything from a doctor's kit, to an artist's kit, a basketball, a fishing pole, a lava lamp, you name it! Once everyone has had their fun and unwrapped the wonderful toys, a designated charity receives these great new toys for their Christmas gift giving! It's fun for all, and makes for a very meaningful gift exchange with good feelings all around and a great outcome!

Reply: What a great idea. And the gift even gets to be enjoyed twice. Love ideas the pay it forward and give back to others. Thanks for sharing.

The Initial Game
by: Anonymous

Our book club has done the initial game several times...always with great results and lots of laughter.

Each person puts the initials of what they "most want for Christmas" on a slip of paper. For example, if you want a cleaning lady, you would put the initials "CL" on a piece of paper. Everyone throws their paper with their name and their initials into a hat. We draw names and then it's up to us to be creative in either a) trying to figure out what they really want and create it, or simply try to come up with something interesting to bring with those initials. You can really get creative with this and it's an absolute HOOT to see what people come up with. It's loads of fun.

Reply: That... is... AWESOME! I love games and activities that inspire creativity. Thanks you so, so, much for sharing this. LOVE IT!


Presents with a Riddle
by: Laura

There is only my self, husband and daughter opening presents Christmas morning. Not having a lot of money to buy presents, I came up with an idea to make riddles for each present that I gave to my husband and daughter. I didn't want to buy items that they may not really want or need. I didn't want to waste money or go through returning items. So I cut out pictures, from the ads, of presents that I wanted to give them. I put the picture in a gift box and wrapped it. Then for each item, I wrote a riddle, and worded it in the first person. I decorated the envelopes with Christmas stickers and taped them to the box. My daughter always plays Santa and passes out the gifts. Then we take turns opening the gifts. So they opened their envelopes, read the riddle and had to guess what the item was was without help.

Here is an example, "I will help you find your way. I am not a compass and I am not a map. If you ever need me, I will take you to a place you have never seen. Who am I"? It was a GPS, so in the box was the picture and money to purchase that item.

Some of the boxes did have a real gift inside. They both loved doing this and it made the opening of presents last longer. It was really fun.

This year I am going to get them to write riddles for the presents they are giving.

Reply: That's AWESOME Laura! Way to go on creating fun on a budget. Thanks so much for sharing. It looks like you just may have started a family tradition.

I Need Help With An Idea
by: Amanda

I'm in charge of games for my family's Christmas party and I need a creative way to pass out gift cards. It can be a game, but we are already doing the dice game and the white elephant game. We did the left right game last year and no one seemed to like that too much. My family seems to like more hands on games. Also our theme is food related so it would be even better if someone can come up with something involving food.

Thanks! Hope you guys can help me out !

Reply:How many people will you be giving gift cards to? I've done some scavenger hunts for gifts in the past where I put clues and or puzzle pieces to put together to read a clue that leads to a gift. I've wrapped the clues in tin foil and baked them into cake (no one knows who will get a clue and which they'll get), and other finger foods. It's so much fun watching everyone "play with their food". You could just hide partial images of where a certain gift card is hidden similar to the Find Me picture scavenger hunt idea.

P.S. When we play the right left game it gets very wild and very hands on, but then we have a creative, funny, and crazy narrator read the story every time we play. Most times we can hardly pass the gifts anymore by the time the story comes to an end because we're laughing so hard.

Dice and Oven Mitts
by: Judy

As an addition to our Christmas gift exchanges, I wrap a gift in the smallest box I can find. I then wrap that in a bigger box, and wrap that in a bigger box, etc. as many times as I can find a bigger box.

*I start VERY small even if it means putting a note inside a ring box as to where the real gift is hidden in the house.

Use lots of tape so it isn't real easy to unwrap, but don't make it impossible.

The gift is in middle of table.

Everyone takes turns rolling dice. When someone gets "doubles", they put on a Christmas hat and oven mitts and attempt to open the gift.

The dice keep going around the table being rolled by each person until antoher "double" is rolled. At that point, they snatch the hat and oven mitts and take over opening the gift where the last person left off.

This continues until the last gift is opened and that person gets the gift.

Everyone gets cheering on to hurry and pass the dice and it gets really crazy! Ever try opening a present with oven mitts on? Best game with a gift we've ever played.

If you want to convert this to your exchange of gifts, you could do the same with the dice and mitts.

Drawing Game
by: Niddia

You write 30 things you are looking for. For example, the first paper drawn says "the person with the most amount of keys" so you give them the gift. Then draw another "the tallest person in the room" so the gift is passed to that person....You keep drawing until the last paper is drawn and that person gets to keep the gift. Ok, b4 Christmas we all put 5 dollars and buy a gift card from somewhere and play that game and one of us gets to keep it. Of course it is not a gift exchange, but you can use this idea for it.

Reply: I love this idea Niddia! What a fun twist to a number of gift exchange games this would be. Thanks so much for sharing. If anyone needs some inspiration for what to write on the draw cards, our Christmas Ring a Bell party game may help you.

by: Brooklyn

I plan on using the Nativity story right left game for my girls bible at my school. This is the only Christian one I could find! Thank you soooo much! I know the girls will be thankful. <3 :D

dice game
by: Lori

My family plays this really fun game every year. Whomever the host is usually provides the gift. You wrap up a gift or we usually put a gift card in a little box. You wrap it up as tight as you can, with duct tape or other very strong durable tape. Then you wrap it in wrapping paper, then put this box inside a bigger box and tape again with very sturdy tape like duck tape. Do this as many times as you'd like. Everyone gets in a circle and you start with the person whose birthday is coming next. That person rolls the dices, you pick a designated number for when you roll that number, you try to unwrap the gift. The dice goes around the circle and whoever rolls the designated number take the present away from the other person and they begin to try to unwrap the gift. This continues until the person who is the lucky one and strongest one can unwrap the present to reveal the prize. Hope I have explained it well enough. This is a really fun and exciting game.

Left Right with a twist
by: Anonymous

We are adding a twist to the left right game this year.
The gifts each have numbers on them. (1 through how many people are there). After reading the passing story, everyone keeps the number on their gift. Then everyone opens what is on their lap. OOH AHH... but wait! It's not done yet! heheh
Now, whoever has the #1 gets to decide if they want to keep or trade with the person on their LEFT or their RIGHT. Then person #2 gets to go and decide to keep or trade left or right. Keep going until all numbers have been called.
When the last number is called, then you get to keep what you are holding. =)
It's fun to see what people keep or decide to trade.

more fun ideas
by: Sheree

everyone brings a creatively wrapped, untagged gift. Can be a white elephant, food item or gag gift. Put names in a basket. Draw so that everyone has a gift. Give each person 2 dice. Set timer for 15 minutes. Take turns rolling dice. If number totals odd amount pass your gift to left. Even amount pass gift to right. Doubles, you get to keep gift. Keep going until timer sounds then open gifts. Someone may have more than one and someone might have none. To make sure everyone has a gift, holders of more than one can raffle off their extras to the highest bidder. Money collected then goes to a charity of choice.

nead the story
by: Anonymous

copy of twas the night before christmas left -right game

Gift Exchange with an added twist
by: Anonymous

Our family has been playing this gift exchange game now for 9 years. There are up to 20 of us. Each family takes turns picking the "theme" for the gifts each year. (For example, say the theme is the Letter M, ideas could be money, morning, monkeys, merlot... or the theme is Bedtime - blankets, books, book lights, pjs', night creme ...) Everyone brings a $25.00 gift with that theme in mind. Then we play the traditional take a number, steal the present game. It adds an extra twist to the game and is always fun to see the clever ideas people come up with to stick with the theme.



Extended family Christmas traditions
by: Leslie

During Thanksgiving every year, the theme for Christmas giving is chosen. Part of the fun is figuring out what to give in a 2-3 week time period.
  • One year everyone had to bring 2-3 presents that were red.
  • Another year, 2-3 presents that started with the letter "C" for Christ child. Lots of chocolate given that year :)
  • And one year it was trashy white elephant gifts.
  • Another year, re-gifted items only.
  • And during a particular ambitious year, it was all homemade gifts.

Understand that kids under 15 still received their own presents. But grownups had so much fun with this, that they could not wait to join the grownups.

The presents have low $ set so each person usually spends about $20 max on the 3 gifts and no gift tags allowed.

Now the fun starts, the host and hostess of Christmas get to chose the game to be played each year.

Can be charades, Pictionary, one card poker, trivia, etc. Whoever wins the round, picks the gift, opens it, then get to be the leader for the next round. When all the gifts are gone, then set a number of rounds (can be dice game here) to steal the gifts.

I think we are going with the theme that everything has to be a re-gifted item this year.

Won't know until Thanksgiving Night.

Get what you really want
by: Anonymous

In our family, everyone brings a wrapped gift for themselves. The gifts are all mixed up and then passed out. Everyone opens one of the gifts, then you must guess who bought the gift. Have a list of everyone in the family so you can write down your guesses. Some are easy, some are hard. At the beginning of the game everyone puts $1 in a pot, whoever has the most correct guesses wins the pot. The good thing is that everyone goes home with a gift they really want.

left and right gift giving
by: elvie of kuwait

Last year during our xmas party i was designated to plan for everything and then i came up with this right and left gift giving idea. Since after all the games were finished several extra gifts are still waiting to be given away, i decided to use the right and left gift giving to make it fair for everyone. They had soooooooo much fun and still wanting for more. Many attendees are actually taking a photocopy of the story and wanted to use it in their own party in the future. tnx a lot.

ps. they loved the the game so much that they decided to give me a watch as a present for my effort.

Last Year and this Year.....

Last year, being the chairperson of our teachers and employees Christmas Party, I made use of the exchange gift game of the Right Family and everyone had fun....this year I am again assigned as in-charged of this year's Christmas Party and I would really like to do another Christmas gift exchange game.....any suggestions please other than the Nativity Story which I will suggest for the church workers' Christmas party....thank you and more power!


You can always rewrite Twas the Night Beore Christmas...

Twas the night RIGHT before Christmas when all through the house.
Not a creature was LEFT stirring... that's RIGHT, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung RIGHT on the chimney with care.
In the hopes that St. Nicolas would soon be RIGHT there.....

This game is fun
by: Anonymous

OK tell your guests to bring a present, and everyone gets in a circle. Put all of the presents in the middle. Then, get a hat and put all of your names in it. Someone picks a name, and that name gets to choose a present, put they have to be wrapped! Then, pick another name, and that person can either take a present from the middle, or someone else's present! Keep doing this until all presents are gone. You need about 10-15 players for this game, but it's worth it!! At the end, everyone opens their presents, and they get to keep them!

by: max111


by: Anonymous

This was really a blast fun game. We enjoy it!!!

right left game
by: Val

I have used the Thanksgiving and Christmas versions (2) of the right left game four times recently and everyone has a blast, including men and children. People keep asking for more. My problem is that I need a story for New Years eve and can't find one.

Christmas left right
by: Anonymous

I played this with two groups, ages 50 to 95. They had such fun, laughed until they cried. It made my holiday because I have a nephew in hospital, in a coma and has brain damage. Love it.

white elephant poem
by: Ruby

I could not find the poem

Please Help
by: gmarx

I really like the right/left gift card money game, but I am lost when it comes to the final game. Do you keep putting the $1 bills and a single $5 bill in envelopes and reading the same story, even for for final big pot of money

Toothpick game
by: Melissa

Every year we bring several wrapped gifts that are $5 and under (mainly fun $1 gifts)some are marked man, woman, girl boy, etc. We are then all given a circle card (just a circle cut out of thin cardboard about 3 in. in diameter) that has about 10 holes punched evenly along the edge of the circle, one of the punched out circles has a circle drawn around it with a marker (designates where to start). We are also given a toothpick which is placed in the starter circle. The whole group sits around the wrapped gifts that are in the middle. Count off the numbers 1 through 6 until everyone has a number. Each person takes a turn rolling the dice. They call out the two numbers rolled. Everyone with those two numbers gets to move their toothpick into the next hole (if it's the same number twice ex. 3 and a 3, then everyone with the number 3 gets to move their toothpick twice). Once you get your toothpick around the entire circle and back to the beginning you get to pick a present from the middle. DON'T open until all the gifts are taken. CATCH -if you roll your own number you have to go back to the start/beginning of your circle. (ex. I'm a 2 and I rolled a 5 and a 2--I have to move my toothpick back to the beginning and start over.) You can continue moving around the circle over and over, taking a present each time you make it back to the beginning until the gifts are gone. When there are no more gifts in the middle you can either open them or do a lightning (timed) round where you can steal other peoples gifts while you play.
Hope that made sense, it's alot of fun! :o)

by: LORI



To make it fair depending on the size of group, you can go around the circLe twice or give each person 3 rolls.

1- Everybody Pass the Gifts left

2- Everybody Pass the Gifts right

3- Open the gift in your hand

4-Trade gifts with whomever you want.

5-Make someone else unwrap their gift

6-You get to keep the gift you have in your hand.

The only exception to 6 is if you have the gift you brought, in which case you would roll again.
Once everybody has had a turn rolling everyone should have a gift to keep.

Birth Year Gifts
by: Carol

Before drawing names for the office Christmas party, everyone had to write the year they were born. Then you had to find a gift for that person reflecting the birth year. It was hilarious to see when many very familiar items were "born". For example the person born in 1966 received a model of the Starship Enterprise. 1966 was the year Star Trek was first aired on TV.

White Elephant Poem
by: Anonymous

The "White Elephant Poem" at is a lot of fun. The direct link is It's for a group of up to 50. If you have fewer than 50 just stop the numbers at the appropriate time. It was a blast and I highly recommend it.

by: Anonymous

Thanx for all the ideas!! I need to inject some fun into a family party!!

Rolling Dice Gift Exchange
by: Sandra

I was looking for instructions on how to play a gift exchange game that I played at a party about 15 years ago....

We had one die and when rolled each number meant something different like 1=open new gift if you don't have one, 2=pass your gift right, 3=pass your gift left, 4=take anyones gift, 6=pass the dice, etc.

Has anyone heard of this?

right /left gift card money game
by: Anonymous

I come from a large family of 10 so there are a lot of family members and it is impossible for me to buy everyone a Christmas gift. so for Christmas last year I told everyone to bring five $1.00 bills and I read the story of Right Family five times. now the twist to the game is I purchase 5 gift cards from food places. everyone has to put their dollar in a small envelope with the exception of one envelope having a five dollar bill so we had 25 people playing the game and once the story was over the one with the five dollar envelope won the gift card and the dollars were emptied into a pot. this went on for another 4 time so when all the gift cards were won the last game was played for the money totaling all the bills collected from every game so the winner ends up taking the total cash.. this was played by both kids and adults..very fun and all I had to pay was 25.00 for my gift cards..right/left game was fun.

Other Ideas
by: Anonymous

Our annual Christmas party is also looking for a revamp. However, the twist we have added to the traditional White Elephant these past years has been to make the presents difficult to open, and have a prize for most creatively wrapped present. We've had gifts hidden in food, scavenger hunts, math puzzles (to get a combination lock open), etc. It's been a lot of fun, and very interesting...

how my family plays it
by: cutie4573

everyone who wants to participate will have to bring a 10 dollar present and they will put it around the tree and they will put the number people who are playing and the people will pick a number out of a hat and that will be their turn. for example the 1st person will pick a present and open it. then the 2nd person will be able to choose to steal the 1st person`s present or open a new present then so on.

Great Games!
by: BigDaddy

Your ideas were incredible thanks for giving us some great options for hosting our work christmas party this year! Keep up the great work!!!!

my ideas!
by: Anonymous

i made up a lot of christmas present exchange ideas, too:
1) t-shirt trade
2) stocking presents
3) and more!

by: ac

I love these games. I intend to try them out this CHRISTmas. I have been needing some new & innovative ways to do gift exchanges & I believe I have found them.

Really good idea!
by: Marisa

This is a really good idea! I am going to use them if u dont mind =] There really good ideas i hope you give mor great ideas

other idea
by: Nicole

Zunker is the best gift exchange game. There are Christmas, Birthday, and Wedding Editions. You should definitely include it in this list!
Check out their website:

Merry Xmas 2 Everyone
by: emo_brokEn

Hi..your ideas here was great!

I Love This A Lot!
by: Rebecca

I love this! I'm having a Christmas party soon, so this comes in handy! Thanks!

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