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At Christmas parties, whether in the extended family, with friends or in the company, games around the exchange of gifts reliably ensure a good mood. From classic Secret Santa to dice games to singing Christmas carols, these 10 Christmas gift exchange games have something for everyone.
At larger Christmas parties, it is difficult or impossible for everyone to bring gifts for all the other guests, especially if you don’t know everyone else well enough to pick out something suitable, like at a company Christmas party. For such occasions, Christmas gift exchange games are a good idea, where each person only has to get one gift. Besides, these games are great fun and a perfect program item that keeps people in a good mood.
For all of the following Christmas gift exchange games, each participating person gets 1 gift and brings it Christmas wrapped to the party. You may know in advance who the gift is for, or even choose one for yourself, but in most games it is not clear beforehand who the gift will end up with.
The most famous game of this kind is now known worldwide: in Sweden, where it comes from, it is called “Julklapp”, in the Anglo-Saxon-speaking world “Secret Santa” and here of course Wichteln.
In the classic version of this game, the names of all the guests are written in advance on slips of paper, which are folded and placed in a jar from which everyone then draws one: the person for whom they are to play the Christmas elf and for whom they are to choose a gift.
The only problem with this is that the more people who participate, the more likely it is that someone will draw themselves. In analog times, that meant either the draw had to be repeated until everyone drew someone else, or an uninvolved person had to match gift givers and gift takers.
In the age of the internet, you can easily complete the draw online, automatically ruling out anyone drawing themselves, such as at Draw Names.
There are numerous variations of Secret Santa, for example, you can give out a motto beforehand or let the participants additionally draw a letter with which the gift must begin or a color that the gift must have. Very funny is also the scrap Secret Santa, in which intentionally worthless, but bizarre objects are given away.
A good and extremely entertaining alternative to junk santa is “Dirty Santa” or also “White Elephant Gift Exchange”. In this game, everyone brings a gift, but who gets it is not yet determined at the beginning.
All the gifts are collected on a table, numbers are drawn and thus an order of the players is drawn. In this order, one may now stand up and choose a gift or steal one from someone else. Whoever was robbed may then also take a gift again or steal someone else’s and so on.
You can find the exact rules here in our article on “Dirty Santa”.
In this Christmas gift exchange game, the gifts brought along are distributed randomly to the guests at the beginning. Then a dice is rolled in turn. Something different happens with every roll of the dice:
1 – Swap your gift with the person to your right!
2 – Swap your gift with the person to your left!
3 – Swap your gift with a person of your choice!
4 – All give their gift to the person on their right!
5 – All give their gift to the person to their left!
6 – You get to unwrap your present!
Either play until the last gift is unwrapped and then everyone gets to keep theirs, or then start a final round for which an alarm clock is set.
This game is ideal for groups where all or most of the members like to sing Christmas songs. A game organiser chooses as many Christmas songs as members of the group in advance (preferably wellknown ones) and prepares as many pairs of slips of paper – on one slip is the first line of text of a Christmas song, on the second its second line.
The latter are stuck randomly onto the gifts brought along, while the slips of paper with the first lines are folded up and put into a bag, from which each guest at the party draws one in turn. One must then find the gift with the matching second line.
If you have a group that is willing to sing, you can introduce the additional rule that you have to sing the first verse of the song before you are allowed to open your present.
Everyone starts by taking a random gift from the gift table and sitting down in a circle.
One person who is allowed to start is drawn at random. This person may now challenge someone else from the round to “Scissors, Rock, Paper”. The following rules apply:
When all the presents are unwrapped, they either continue playing as long as everyone feels like it or set an alarm.
Do you know the game “Never Have I Ever…”? The object is to take turns saying a sentence that starts with “I’ve never…”. Everyone who has done the named thing before must then do something, in this case, swap their gift with the person to their left.
In keeping with the occasion, you can also set a rule that all activities must be related to Christmas, so for example:
Sounds like “musical chairs” ? That’s right, because also in this game (Christmasy) music is turned on and then suddenly stopped again. This game is also very suitable for children (but not only)!
Everyone sits in a circle and holds a wrapped gift in their hand. As long as the music is playing, the gifts are passed clockwise in time with the music. When the music stops, you start unwrapping your gift. Then the music starts again and you have to pass on again. Whoever has completely unwrapped a gift during a break in the music may stand up and leave the circle, which is now made tighter.
The “Journey to Bethlehem” is especially fun if you wrap the presents in several layers 😉
At the beginning, play money is distributed, one is the auctioneer and the gifts are auctioned. If you want, you can also play another game in advance, in which you can win play money, whereby all players of course get a certain minimum.
This game follows a completely different logic for a change. Because in the process, everyone gives themselves a gift. Often you know best what you can make yourself a joy.
The gifts are nevertheless wrapped and randomly distributed to the guests, as in the case of the other Christmas gift exchange games. In addition, everyone throws one euro into a pot.
Then everyone unwraps the gifts and presents them to the group. Now slips of paper and pens are distributed and everyone writes down the names of everyone else and next to it what you guess what gift the person gave himself.
Afterwards, everyone takes turns announcing which gift is theirs. Whoever guesses the most correctly gets the money pot. Everyone goes home with their gift that they bought for themselves.
We hope these Christmas gift exchange games will bring cheer to your holiday party!
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