Gift exchanges are tons of fun! They not only provide entertainment for your holiday party, but they also help ease the overwhelming pressure of how much to spend, as there are games that range from extravagant to dollar and DIY. Prices are usually set in the amount the group chooses.
Once you’ve gathered your troops, decide on a gift exchange game. We’ve compiled 30 games that will entertain co-workers, family and friends. Enjoy!
Everyone in the office or group of friends picks a name out of a hat (don't tell anyone who you got!) and purchases a small gift for that person. Throw in a price limit to keep things fair. If you want to make it a little easier, have everyone send out a wish list.
Instead of exchanging gifts, get them a subscription for shaving supplies, movies, makeup, or even liquor.
This works best with gag gifts or gifts with little or no use. Set a price limit and place gifts in one area. Have everyone draw a number from a bowl. The person who gets #1 gets to pick first. Number 2 can decide if they want Number 1's gift or pick from the pile. Number 3 can either steal Number 1's or 2's gift or pick from the pile. This goes on until numbers run out. A gift can be stolen 3 times before it becomes safe and the last person who stole gets to keep it.
Bring in a favorite book and attach a short description about why you love it. Choose names out of a hat to pick the order books are drawn in.
Whoever picks your charity will donate a small donation in your name.
Pick a cool mug and wrap it up! Place a number on it and have coworkers or friends select a number from a jar.
Wrap a gift of your choice in an extravagant way, hold it up and let people guess what it is. You can give several clues. The first person to guess keeps the gift.
Have everyone bring a present and place it on the floor. Write a list of holiday trivia and read it out loud. Whoever guesses each question (by raising their hand) first, gets first pick from the present pile.
Gather everyone who has a pet and do a gift exchange for your furry friends instead.
Preselect a random name from a box. Have everyone make a holiday craft or a DIY kit and place it in a small box. Example gifts include a homemade ornament or mason jar cookie mix.
Bring in your favorite cocktail wrapped up in a gift by adding a fun cup and the ingredients to make it. To keep cost low, you can use miniature liquor bottles.
Rotating Gift Exchange
Make a list of long-distance friends who want to participate in a gift exchange. Then, fill a box with some of your favorite things. Ship it to the first friend on the list. They will take your gift, refill the box with their favorite things, and send to the next person. Once the last person on the list receives a gift, they will refill the box and return to the first sender.
Have kids sit in a circle and pass around a gift until the music stops. The person holding the gift when it stops gets to keep it. Do that until all the gifts are gone.
Place a gag gift in a present pile at your family's house. Make sure that the person who gets it that year wraps it up for the next year.
Bake a batch of your favorite cookies and wrap them up nicely in a tin, box or jar. Swap throughout the night and everyone will leave home with a box full of an assortment. To make it even more fun, set up a packaging station at the party!
Have kids and adults fill out a coupon for a fun activity. It can be a movie night, a pizza party, a DIY baking treat, etc. Put them all in a box and have each person pick from it. Once the person chooses a coupon, they get to plan their fun outing!
December Dice Game
Have everyone sit in a circle while holding their gift. Choose a person to roll the dice first and see which number it lands on. Have a sheet ready with instructions for each number, such as "switch your gift with someone." Fun printable here.
Hot Potato Time
If you ever played as a child, you know your kids will love this game as well. Pass around a gift and set a timer. Whoever is holding the gift at the end of the timer keeps it and is no longer in the circle. Do this until all gifts are gone.
A Christmas Story
Pick your favorite Christmas story and add the words RIGHT, LEFT, ACROSS in between words. For example "Twas the night RIGHT before Christmas and all through the LEFT house". Every time one of those words is said, you either pass your gift to the right, left or to the person across from you. After the story is done, the person gets to keep the gift they are holding.
Grab Bag Exchange
Have people bring a box or bag with individual little gifts and pick the order of who will begin first. Have the person feel each gift and make a decision based on that. Do not open until everyone has their gift.
Have a list of holiday jokes prepared, one for each person participating in the exchange. Separate jokes from punch lines on strips of paper. One punch line goes on each gift and one joke goes to each person. Have the person read their joke out loud, then find the punch line that goes with it -- the gift with their punch line belongs to them!
Play bingo and have the first winner select a gift from the pile. The second winner gets to choose if they want to steal or take a new gift from pile.
Joy to the World
Prior to the party, have everyone select a country and a person. That person must then buy a gift that suits the country. For example, choose a popular toy, wardrobe, or food and write a short description of why that item was picked. When it's time to exchange, read your description aloud. It's fun to learn about different cultures!
Holiday Treasure Hunt
Have each person go through a maze/hunt to find their gift. Set up clues and time each person. Once they find their gift, get together in a circle and open them!
Have each person bring a gift. Instruct them not to label who it's from. Once a gift is selected, have the person guess who brought it in. If they guess, they get to keep it -- but if they don't they have to pick a "dare" from a jar. This could be anything ranging from dancing to drinking. Keep giving them dares until they guess who!
Gift Basket Fun
Think of it as a care package for the recipient. This is similar to Secret Santa, but with a gift basket theme. Before the party, the host will assign you a guest to bring a basket for. Come up with a fun theme like Spa Day or Movie Night, and put together a fun package of multiple small gifts.
If you are unsure what to get your co-workers, this is the perfect theme. Bring in a treat (candy, baked good, bottle of wine, meat and cheese platter) and have fun exchanging. The best part is that everyone can share the treat in the office.
Swap it Out
Make cards with sayings such as "switch with someone wearing red" or "trade with whoever you've known the longest" and hand them out after each person has selected their gift. Make sure all gifts have a set price that is appropriate for everyone participating.
Dollar Store Delights
If money is tight this year, try doing a dollar store exhchange. Pick a fun item such as a party prop, household item, or an edible treat. This works with those you don't know too well.
What's better than holiday games? Board games! Have people bring their favorite childhood game with a short description. Randomly select the order of who picks first. After everyone has opened their gifts, have fun playing with all the games.
As you can see there are many ways to bring the fun into gift exchanging. If you still can’t decide on an idea, why not decide on a group experience gift? It makes for a fun memory for all to share.