Games and activities make any gift exchange fun and festive. Whether you are hosting a gag gift exchange with friends or your family has drawn names to help them with the annual gift exchange, these games are sure to put a smile on everyone's faces and the holiday spirit in their hearts.
Guess the Giver
If you are exchanging gifts with a small group of friends or family, Guess the Giver is a fun game to play. The game has players performing silly tasks, so it's a perfect gift-giving game to play with a group of people with who you are entirely comfortable.
- A jar
- Small slips of paper and a pen
- One wrapped gift for every player that does NOT include a tag saying who the gift is from.
- A small table
- When people come through the door, have a small table at your entryway for guests to set their wrapped gifts down discreetly. This will ensure that no party guests know who brought what.
- On slips of paper, write silly Christmas tasks for players to perform. Tasks might include:
- Act like a reindeer
- Sing a verse from a holiday song
- Name all of Santa's reindeer
- Tell a funny Christmas story
- Share what the worst Christmas gift you ever received was
How to Play
- Everyone playing sits in a circle with a gift.
- The first person selected tries to guess who bought the gift they are holding.
- If they guess incorrectly, they draw a slip of paper from the jar and perform the silly task.
- If they guess correctly, they unwrap the gift.
Hot Potato Presents
Kids love playing hot potato because it is a fast-paced, exciting game. This classic game is made more fun when it results in a gift! If you have a gathering of little cousins at your holiday party, choose this game for present time. You can also have this game set up for the kids and another adult-friendly gift exchange game set up for the grown-ups.
- One wrapped gift per player
- A timer
- Have Christmas music cued up to play in the background. This isn't a "must" for the game, but some children's holiday tunes help to set a festive mood for your gift exchange.
- Review how to work your timer
How to Play
- Have kids stand in a circle.
- Turn the music on.
- Set the timer for a specific amount of time.
- Yell "Go" as kids pass a single gift around the circle.
- When the timer goes off, the passing of the gift stops.
- The person holding the gift is "out." They unwrap their gift and show the group what they received.
- This continues until only one person is left.
- The last person standing unwraps the last gift left. They choose to keep that gift, or they can make one single trade with anyone who has opened a gift already.
Roll of the Dice Gift Exchange
Roll of the Dice is a fun game for adults and kids alike. It could be a perfect gift-giving edition to a Christmas Girlfriend Sleepover Party! This game is fun, interactive, and no one knows what they will end up with until the game is finally over.
- One wrapped gift for every person playing
- An instruction sheet telling players what to do with the dice number they roll
- A single dice
- Have every person wrap a gift. If playing with girlfriends, make sure everyone has a monetary budget to work with, making all gifts similar in price and value.
- Create an instruction sheet telling players what to do with the number that they roll. Instructions should read:
- 1 - trade gifts with the person on your left
- 2 - trade gifts with the person on your right
- 3 - trade gifts with the person across from you
- 4 - trade gifts with a person of your choosing
- 5 - unwrap your gift
- 6 - unwrap your gift
- Everyone sits in a circle holding the gift that they brought.
- The first person rolls the die. They follow the instruction provided on the dice instruction sheet.
- The die continues to be rolled until every person has opened their gift.
Spin the Candy Cane
Older kids and teens might enjoy playing Spin the Candy Cane. The game is a take on Spin the Bottle, but there is no kissing in this version, so it is family and kid-friendly.
- One large candy cane
- One gift for each person participating
- (Optional) Holiday music to play in the background
- Place wrapped gifts on a table or in a pile.
- Have a Christmas music playlist created and on-hand.
How to Play
- Everyone sits in a circle.
- Place a large candy cane on its side in the middle of the circle.
- Turn on Christmas music to get everyone in the holiday mood.
- One person spins the candy cane.
- Whoever the straight candy cane tip is pointing to is the person who chooses the first gift.
- The person who chooses the gift unwraps their present and shows the other players.
This game is simple, but it does a few key things for those opening presents. It draws out the present process for children so that gift-giving lasts a bit longer than it normally would. It aids in slowing down kids who tend to grab a gift, tear through it and pay no attention to what other people might be receiving. Playing the game creates a bit of nostalgia for adults from their younger years, as Spin the Bottle was likely a big hit back in their heyday.
Blindfolded Musical Gift Exchange
Add festive Christmas music to your exchange! To make the game work best, you should have at least ten friends or family present, so there are plenty of chairs and gifts to go around. This game will work for any age of guests, from children to adults. It's a Christmas gift exchange game that everyone can play.
- Blindfold for each guest
- Chair for each guest
- Christmas music (mobile device works best)
- Set chairs in a circle in the party venue.
- Put a blindfold on each chair.
- Have your musical selections set on your phone, iPod, mp3 player, or another device.
How to Play
- Collect all the gifts from the guests and put them in a central location.
- Ask the guests to all choose a chair and put on the blindfold placed on it.
- Once the blindfolds are in place, hand each guest a gift.
- Play Christmas music and have everyone hand their gift to the person on their right.
- Keep handing the gifts to the person on the right until the music stops.
- Once the music has stopped, guests should leave their blindfolds on and open the gifts.
- They can then use their hands to feel the gift and decide whether they want to keep the gift or not.
- If they want to keep the gift they have received, they can take off their blindfold. Those who are out of the game should still remain in their chairs to help pass the gifts but should pull their gifts out of the rotation. If the music stops and they are holding a gift, they should pass it along to the person next to them since they will not be keeping it.
- If they want to play again, they will stay in for the next round.
- The game stops when there are only two players with their blindfolds on because otherwise, they would just pass the remaining gifts back and forth to each other.
Christmas Card Match
Save last year's Christmas cards or use up the free ones you get in the mail to get this exchange party started. There is no limit to the number of guests that can participate in this game. This game can be played by guests of all ages and adjusted based on a mixed age group.
- Christmas cards
- Before the party, gather or purchase a variety of Christmas cards. You don't want any two cards to be alike. You will need one card per participant.
- Cut all the cards in half.
- Put one-half of the cards in envelopes and put the other parts of the cards into a bowl.
- When guests arrive with a gift, choose a random card half to tape onto their gift and set it aside.
How to Play
- When it's time for the gift exchange, ask guests to choose an envelope (with half of a card inside).
- Once everyone has chosen an envelope, players should open them to reveal the card inside.
- The guests should then proceed to the pile of gifts to find the gift with the other half of the card.
- If the players are evenly matched (all the same age and ability), you can have the players race to find their gift. If it is a mismatched crowd of varying ages or abilities, then it is safest to encourage an orderly find.
- Guests can then open their gifts. You can have the gifts opened by the youngest to the oldest or, if it was a race, in the order in which they were found.
Follow Santa's Footprints
Half the fun of this game is hunting for gifts, and it works with white elephant, blind, or name-draw exchange styles. Any number of guests will work with this game, from a small party of only a couple of people or a large group of 50. This game is great for a family of all ages who has designated gifts for certain guests. This will also work for young children who enjoy hide-n-go-seek or treasure hunts.
- A venue with several hiding places
- Paper cut-outs of a man's footprints - Use a clean shoe as a template to cut prints out of red construction paper. The number of prints you need will depend on the number of gifts hidden and the size of your venue.
- Before the party, cut the footprint shapes out of red construction paper.
- Before guests arrive, scout out the party venue for some good hiding places for gifts.
How to Play
- The host will collect the gifts as the guests arrive.
- Ask the entire party to step into another room.
- Hide the gifts in your predetermined locations. It's best if you have a big venue, with nooks and corners. If you have a small party, say under five people, you can hide all the gifts in one place. If you have a larger group of people, it is more fun and easier to hide the gifts in multiple locations. With multiple locations, divide groups up by age or how you placed the gifts.
- Lay the "Santa Footprints" on the ground, leading from the entrance of the party venue to the hidden gifts. If you have hidden the gifts in multiple locations, you will have several footprint paths.
- Allow guests to return to the party room.
- Guests will follow the footprints until they find the gifts.
- If you have gifts with name tags on them, decide whether you want guests to ignore other people's gifts and only announce when they have found their own gifts or if you want them to bring all found gifts to a central table. If you do not have any names on the packages (like a white elephant exchange), just allow guests to keep the first gift they find.
- After all the gifts have been found, allow guests to open their presents. The team/pair/person who followed the footprints fastest can open first.
Planning for the Gift Exchange
Gift-giving is a special component of the holiday season. Adding a special touch to this classic holiday tradition makes giving and receiving presents even more fun. Choose to play the same gift exchange games over the years, allowing it to become a part of your family culture and tradition, or pick a different game to play every year.