7 Christmas Gift Exchange Games For The Holidays

November 3rd, 2023

The holiday season is all about spreading joy, love, and, of course, exchanging gifts with family and friends. While the tradition of giving and receiving presents is heartwarming, it can sometimes become a predictable affair. That’s where Christmas gift exchange games come into play. These games inject an element of surprise, laughter, and excitement into the festivities, making your holiday gatherings even more memorable. In this article, we’ll explore seven Christmas gift exchange games, including the ever-popular Yankee Swap, to add a touch of fun and creativity to your celebrations.

How do you make a gift exchange game fun?

To make a gift exchange game fun, create an enjoyable and engaging atmosphere. Encourage participants to get creative with their gifts, set a theme, or add a quirky twist to the exchange, like a white elephant or Secret Santa theme.

Include fun rules or challenges to keep things lively and entertaining, such as a time limit for opening gifts or trading options. Incorporate laughter, friendly competition, and a sense of anticipation, and ensure that everyone feels included and appreciated. A fun and relaxed atmosphere is key to making a gift exchange game enjoyable for everyone involved.

What gifts do you buy for a gift exchange game?

When participating in a gift exchange game that includes activity gift cards, it’s a good idea to select presents that offer a mix of thoughtfulness and universal appeal. Here are some gift ideas:

  • Activity Gift Cards: Choose popular activity gift cards for restaurants, movie theaters, spa treatments, or experiences like cooking classes, escape rooms, or outdoor adventures. These provide recipients with enjoyable experiences they can look forward to.
  • Themed Gift Basket: Create themed gift baskets filled with items related to a particular hobby or interest, like a movie night basket with popcorn, DVDs, and cozy blankets.
  • Unique Decor: Look for unique and decorative items like decorative candles, artisanal home decor, or quirky office accessories that can add a touch of personality to their space.
  • Gourmet Treats: Gourmet food and drink items such as specialty chocolates, gourmet coffee or tea sets, or a basket of exotic snacks can be universally appreciated.
  • Personalized Gifts: Consider personalized items such as custom-made ornaments, monogrammed towels, or engraved keychains to add a personal touch.
  • Fun Gadgets: Explore fun and innovative gadgets or tech accessories that can be entertaining and useful, like portable Bluetooth speakers or quirky phone holders.
  • Books: A best-selling book in a genre that’s likely to appeal to a broad audience is often a great choice for a gift exchange.
  • Board Games or Puzzles: Choose a popular board game or an intriguing jigsaw puzzle for hours of entertainment.
  • Self-Care Items: Self-care items like scented candles, bath bombs, or high-quality skincare products can help recipients relax and pamper themselves.

Remember to consider the preferences and tastes of the people participating in the gift exchange game, and try to strike a balance between thoughtful and versatile gifts that can appeal to a wide range of people.

7 Christmas gift exchange games to try this Christmas

1. Secret Santa

two hands holding gifts
Secret Santa is a classic gift exchange game that adds an element of mystery to your holiday festivities. Here’s how it works: Each participant draws a name from a hat to determine the person they will be buying a gift for. The catch? The identity of the gift giver remains a secret until the gift is opened. Set a budget for the gifts to ensure fairness and creativity. Secret Santa not only adds an element of surprise but also encourages thoughtful gift-giving as participants try to guess their recipient’s preferences.

2. White Elephant / Yankee Swap game

White Elephant, also known as Yankee Swap, is a hilarious and sometimes competitive gift exchange game that involves trading and stealing gifts. Here’s how it works: Each participant brings a wrapped gift, and the gifts are placed in a central location. Participants draw numbers to determine the order in which they will select a gift. The first person chooses a gift from the pile and opens it. The subsequent participants can either choose a new gift or “steal” an already opened gift from someone else. There are usually limits on how many times a gift can be stolen. White Elephant encourages both strategic thinking and good-natured rivalry, making it a favorite at holiday parties.

3. Secret Snowflake

snowflake gifts
Similar to Secret Santa, Secret Snowflake adds a twist by introducing a series of small, thoughtful gifts leading up to the grand reveal. Participants draw names to become each other’s “Snowflakes.” Over a predetermined number of days or weeks leading up to the holiday gathering, they secretly leave small gifts or tokens of kindness for their Snowflake. These can be anything from a handwritten note to a small treat. On the final day of gift-giving, participants reveal their identities and exchange a larger, more substantial present. Secret Snowflake spreads holiday cheer and fosters a sense of anticipation and connection.

4. Dice Gift Exchange

The Dice Gift Exchange is a simple yet entertaining game that involves rolling dice to determine the fate of your gifts. To play, everyone sits in a circle with their wrapped gift. The host provides a pair of dice. The first person rolls the dice, and depending on the outcome, a set of rules dictate what happens next. For example, rolling a pair of 1s could mean passing the gift to the left, while rolling a pair of 6s might allow you to swap with any gift in the circle. The game continues until everyone has had a chance to roll the dice. It’s a lighthearted game that ensures a fair share of surprises and laughter.

5. The Stocking Stuffer Swap

woman surprised by christmas gift exchange games
If you’re looking for a low-stress and budget-friendly gift exchange game, the Stocking Stuffer Swap is an excellent choice. Participants are tasked with filling a Christmas stocking with a set number of small, inexpensive gifts or trinkets. The items can be quirky, humorous, or sentimental, and the only rule is that they must fit inside the stocking. During the exchange, each person selects a stocking and unwraps its contents one by one. The Stocking Stuffer Swap allows for creativity and variety, making it a delightful way to celebrate the holiday season.

6. Christmas Carol Pictionary

Combine the joy of holiday music with the excitement of a classic game night by playing Christmas Carol Pictionary. In this game, participants are divided into teams, and each team is tasked with drawing or miming a popular Christmas carol without using words. The other team members must guess the carol based on the drawings or actions. You can use a list of pre-selected carols or allow participants to choose their favorites. Christmas Carol Pictionary is a great icebreaker and adds a festive twist to the traditional gift exchange.

7. Secret Ingredient Gift Exchange

For foodies and culinary enthusiasts, the Secret Ingredient Gift Exchange adds a delicious twist to gift-giving. Each participant selects a secret ingredient that they believe would enhance a particular dish or recipe. This ingredient is then wrapped and exchanged during the party. The challenge is for recipients to create a dish using their secret ingredient and share it with the group. Participants can get creative with their culinary concoctions, resulting in a unique and tasty experience. Whether it’s a special spice, an exotic sauce, or a rare cooking tool, the Secret Ingredient Gift Exchange is sure to delight food lovers and spark culinary adventures.


This holiday season, consider incorporating one or more of these Christmas gift exchange games into your celebrations to elevate the joy and excitement of gift-giving. Whether you opt for the mystery of Secret Santa, the hilarity of White Elephant, the warmth of Secret Snowflake, the randomness of Dice Gift Exchange, the simplicity of the Stocking Stuffer Swap, the musical challenge of Christmas Carol Pictionary, or the culinary adventure of the Secret Ingredient Gift Exchange, these games are sure to create cherished memories and bring your loved ones closer together during this festive time of year. So, gather your friends and family, unwrap the laughter, and let the holiday spirit shine through in these entertaining gift exchange games.

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