Almost every holiday party I’ve been to in the past ten years has had a very similar gift exchange. 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. This year I dare you to break out of the typical gift exchange box and try one of the unique gift exchange ideas below at your holiday party. Your guests will probably be shocked, maybe a little confused, but I’d be willing to bet they will remember how much fun your party was. The only other thing you need is an amazing white elephant gift and luckily I have a ton of great white elephant gift ideas for you! This post contains affiliate links for your reference!
Lucky Last Line Gift Exchange
This game has two variations, one if you just want to provide one wrapped gift as part of your party fun and one if you want to ask everyone to bring a wrapped gift that will then be exchanged through this game. Full details for the first variation for a single gift can be found here. This post is for using this as a gift exchange for a large group of people who each bring their own wrapped gift.
Update: If you’ve tried this game in the past and want to do it again this year, I’ve created two BRAND NEW passing poems to use for this year’s parties! You can check them out and print here. Supplies:
- Wrapping Paper
- Scotch tape
- Gifts (these are 10 of my favorites)
- This story cut into couplets
Prep: Ask your guests to each bring a wrapped gift. Before the party, write a poem that directs the game and how guests will swap gifts. You can use this one or use it as an example to write your own.
- Tell each of your guests to hold their own wrapped gift.
- Read the first line of the poem and tell your guests to follow the instructions in the poem. An example would be, “I’m sorry but this gift is not for you, give it to the person to the right of you.” If one person receives multiple gifts that’s fine, they will just need to give those gifts away during the next line of the poem. Make sure your poem includes a last line that will allow all gifts to be given away to anyone (e.g., to the right of you, across the room, etc.).
- Repeat, reading the poem line by line and having your guests follow the instructions on the poem. The gift the person has in their hands at the end of the poem unwraps and keeps that gift.
BONUS: If you’ve tried this game in the past and want to do it again this year, I’ve created two BRAND NEW passing poems to use for this year’s parties! You can check them out and print here.
December Dice Game
Prep: For this game, you will need two six-sided dice. Ask all of your guests to bring a wrapped gift.
- Have everyone sit in a circle with their wrapped gift in their lap.
- Give the dice to one person in the circle and tell them to roll the dice and follow the instructions that correspond with the number they roll. For example, if they roll a 6 everyone would pass the gift to the right, roll an 8 and everyone passes to the left. Full list is below with a printable version here.
- Go around the circle allowing everyone to roll the dice two times (or however many you choose). During the second round before someone rolls, if they have not yet unwrapped their gift have them up wrap it so all of the gifts are unwrapped by the end of the second round.
- Once the dice have gone around the circle twice, your guests will keep the gift in their hands.
- Christmas music (this is a great playlist)
- iPod, bluetooth speaker (I love this one!), or other music player
- Chairs or seats for all of your guests
- Wrapped Gifts (these are 10 of my favorites)
Prep: This game probably works best with smaller (20 or less) groups of people. For this game, ask all of your guests to bring a wrapped gift. When your guests arrive ask them to put their gift in a designated area. Have your guests sit in a circle.
- To start the game, pick out a random gift from the table and give it to someone in the circle.
- Play Christmas music and tell your guests to pass the gift around the circle until the music stops.
- When the music stops, whoever has the gift in their hands will unwrap the gift, show the rest of the group, and leave the circle with their gift, standing close by. We’ll call this person player A.
- Repeat with another gift, but this time when the music stops the guest (player B) with the gift can choose to either unwrap their gift or steal the gift from the first person who left the circle (player A). If they choose to steal Player A’s gift, Player A would unwrap the gift Player B ended up with when the music stopped.
- Repeat with another gift,but this time when the music stops the guest (player C) with the gift can choose to either unwrap their gift or steal the gift from Player A or Player B (or anyone else outside the circle if you’ve been playing for a while). If they choose to steal Player A’s gift, Player A would have the option to steal from someone else who left the circle with a gift already or unwrap the gift Player C ended up with when the music stopped.
- Continue playing until all gifts have been unwrapped and everyone has a gift.
Alternative Option: If you’d rather make the game a little simpler and less time consuming, you can just start everyone with a gift at the beginning of the game. Play music and have everyone pass their gifts around until the music stops. When the music stops everyone opens their gift and goes home with that gift. Or you can do two rounds and have half the people unwrap their gifts and half not. Then after the second round have the other half unwrap and everyone go home with whatever they ended up with.
Bonus Game: Pick A Gift, Any Gift
Other Great Gift Exchange Games
If you liked these games, follow my Party Games board on Pinterest then check out these other posts for more great ideas!