Gift Exchange Game Ideas

‘Tis the season of giving! So in celebration of our “12 Days Of Christmas In July,” we’re giving you some fun ideas to shake up your next Christmas gift exchange, whether you’re in the classroom, home or office.

Bronner's 12 days of Christmas in July!

The Benefits Of Gift Exchanges

When my husband and I first decided we wanted to host a combined Christmas gathering for both sides of our family, we made the decision to to do a simple gift exchange. That way no one would feel the pressure of bringing a gift for everyone and yet everyone would get to leave with something! Less stress, financially fit for everyone, and loads of fun – gift exchanges are a WIN in my book!

Family Christmas

Over the years we have varied the gift exchange games we’ve played. Changing it up from year to year is a great way to keep the gift swap fresh – and everyone on their toes!

By the same token, setting up guidelines – be it a price limit or theme, for example – is a great way to tailor any gift exchange to your group.

Different Types of Gift Exchanges

White Elephant Gift Exchange or Yankee Swap

It has been said that “it is better to give than to receive,” which may definitely be the case in this gift exchange! Perhaps the most popular gift exchange, the white elephant is also known as the Yankee swap.

What Is A White Elephant Gift Swap?

The premise of this gift exchange is to give a gift that you have no use for or desire to keep, but that is too good to throw away.

Consider this hilarious joke, published in 1907 in Nebraska’s The Columbus Journal:

“A shocking thing happened in one of our nearby towns, says exchange. One of the popular society women announced a ‘white elephant party.’ Every guest was to bring something she could not find any use for and yet too good to throw away. The party would have been a great success but for an unlooked development which broke it up. Nine out of the eleven women invited brought their husbands. – Primrose Record.” 😂

We’d say joking aside, but really isn’t that what makes a white elephant gift swap so fun? (OBVIOUSLY, no spouses!) But the more funny or enigmatic the gift, the more commotion and interest it is sure to stir!

So whether you choose to re-gift that ugly Christmas sweater from Grandma Gert or find a wacky novelty that’s sure to become the next inside joke*, a 🐘white elephant gift swap is sure to create TONS of fun memories!

Instagram’s @OurVintageRancher shares a fun Christmas prank idea: “Buy a couple of silly ornaments and sneak them on to people’s trees when you visit them during the holiday season.” It’s fun to see how long it takes them to discover their new treasure. Likewise, a novelty ornament is a great way to pay homage to an inside joke or start one! And who knows? Your white elephant gift may become the treasure that keeps popping up year after year!😂

Secret Santa

Secret Santa gifts can be incredibly fun as well! In this Western Christmas tradition, a group of participants each draw a person’s name. They anonymously gift their recipient, starting with a smaller surprise each day and leading up to a big exchange when Secret Santas are revealed.

🎁SECRET SANTA GIFT TIP: Gift giving just got easier for Santa when you print these GIFT IDEA CARDS with our free printable for your next secret Santa exchange.

Gift Exchange Gone Wrong!

And here’s a fun clip from NBC’s iconic show “The Office” of a Secret Santa ↔️ Yankee Swap gift exchange gone wrong. We certainly do not recommend changing the type of gift exchange mid-gift-giving😂. So here’s what not to do in your next gift swap

What To Give For A Gift Exchange?

While white elephant gift exchanges are perfect for the office party or group, there is also the option of staying a bit more on the serious side and picking a more desirable gift. Even so, it’s still humorous to me to see the variety of gifts everyone picks. Personalities really show up! (I’m thinking of you, David, with those silicone stretch Tupperware lids you ended up with from me a few years ago. 😉😂)

Regardless of what type of gift exchange you choose, there are lots of different ways to end up with a gift at the end of the day!

Gift Exchange Game Play Ideas

One trend I started to see popping up in our gift swaps was that a lot of people were hoping to end up with their own gift! Obviously one way around this (outside of rules) is to have someone package and wrap them identically. Or consider tossing all the gifts into a giant Santa bag and have each participant pick one blindfolded! But if you like a little more competition then we have some fun spins to change up your next gift swap …

Right … Left … 🎁PASS! Gift Exchange Story

Keep people on their toes and test their directional skills with a creative story in this fun gift exchange idea! Every time you hear the word “RIGHT” or “LEFT,” you pass your gift in that direction. When the story is finished, the gift you are holding is yours to treasure forever … or until your next white elephant gift exchange anyway. 😂

The RIGHT way to read is slowly, or guests may be LEFT confused quickly! See what can happen?😂 If you’re keen to give it a try, we’ve got the perfect story for you:


Bronner’s Roll Of the Dice Gift Exchange

Are you a gambler? Then you’ll love this gift-exchange game-play variation – roll the dice for your move!

And while you most certainly can use a standard die for rolling, how much more fun would a giant die with a Christmas spin be? We thought so, too! So we’re giving you this Christmas die template, FREE to make your own DIY Christmas dice! (Make the most out of this game piece and see other ways you can use this die in CHRISTMAS GAMES.)

DIY Christmas-Themed Pentagon Die

Game Play

Once everyone has an unopened gift in hand, roll to play:

  1. ONE or SANTA🎅 or MRS. CLAUS 🤶 – EVERYONE passes their gift to the RIGHT.
  2. TWO or an ELF 🧝 – Trade your gift with the person to your RIGHT.
  3. THREE or SNOW❄️ or GREEN GRINCHY MONSTER – Steal any gift.
  4. FOUR or a GINGERBREAD COOKIE 🍪 – EVERYONE passes their gift to the LEFT.
  5. FIVE or a SNOWMAN⛄ – Trade your gift with the person to your LEFT.
  6. SIX or BEAMER THE BRONNER STAR™⭐ – Swap any gift and open it!

BONUS – If using Bronner’s pentagon die for game play, watch out for Ebenezer Scrooge. Anyone who rolls this classic Christmas character reserves the right to switch another two players’ gifts on them so you just may want to play nicely with each other. 😂 … Bah Humbug!

For more, check out our printable ROLL THE DICE GIFT SWAP GAME GUIDE.

👂We’re Just Dying To Know …

What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ended up with (or given) in a gift swap?

📣 Will you please share your ideas or experiences with us in the comments below?

Looking For More Christmas Game Ideas?

A little more on the physical side, check out our 🎄“Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree” game🎄. But be careful, you could get dizzy. 😂

Oh Christmas Tree Crepe Paper Game

Looking for something to work your mind? Our 🔔 “Do You Hear What I Hear” Jingle Bells game 🔔 can be tailored to different skill levels and fun for all ages.

Jingle Bells Christmas Game

See who is the ultimate Christmas movie enthusiast by testing your memory in our 🗨️ MOVIE QUOTES QUIZ! 🗨️

Join Our Community For Christmas Lovers!

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