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The White Elephant Gift Exchange Holiday Party Game

By Edited Oct 5, 2015 1 0

christmas gnome
Are you going to a White Elephant Gift Exchange?  The rules are minimal and the fun is endless, but you have to take the right 'gift'.

Everybody receives gifts they don't actually want and will never ever use in all of eternity, and the White Elephant Gift Exchange is a great way to share your crappy gift.  Also known as the "I Can't Believe You Gave Me This Crap for Christmas" game, it's a great way to have a blast with friends.  

The game is also known by many other names including Dirty Santa, Yankee Swap, Rob Your Neighbor, Cut Throat Christmas, The Grinch Game and Stealing Santa.  If this isn't your cup of tea, there are many other games that are best played over the Christmas holiday season.

Because of all the different names people often don't realize they are playing the same game.  Whatever you call it the key to the game being fun for is that everyone understand the rules. 

Basic Rules

• Try to have at least six people who will play. There is no maximum, but the more people you have, the longer the game will take to play, and the more fun will be had by all.  You can also break off into smaller groups and then have a tournament of the winners, losers, etc.


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• Each person is required to bring a gift that is wrapped in such a way that no one can easily identify its contents. If you decide to put a limit on how much the gift can cost be sure to mention this to the players (a budget of $10 - $20 is usually good). You can also say that the gift must not be purchased, but something brought from your home if times are tough; everyone will have just as much fun. Try to make sure the gift is worthless and unusual, this will make the party MUCH more interesting.  The most memorable parties happen when everybody gives the absolutely worst gift they can- this could be an empty bottle of ketchup, a box of broken pencils, or worse.  Use your imagination.  The point is to give something that you really don't want.

Dog with Ball

• Place gifts under a tree or on a table where people can reach them easily.

• Have the host write numbers on scrap pieces of paper that equal the number of players and place them in a bowl. Each person will draw a number to find out in what order they go. Don't be too disappointed if you get a high number because you will actually have more gifts to choose from. This is a good thing.

• The person who is #1 gets the first chance to pick a gift from the pile. They can shake and inspect gifts until they find one they like. They open it and show it off to the others. Person #2 can now choose to steal the gift from person #1 or open another package. If person #2 steals the gift from person #1 then person #1 can either pick another gift to open or steal a gift from someone else. The person who opens or steals a gift at the beginning of each round (the person who has #5, etc.) can't be touched until after that round is over and the next one begins.

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• This goes on and on until you reach the last person. This person is in the envious position to take a gift from anyone in the game and know that they will be able to keep it, as they are no more players to steal from him or her. Of course, they can also choose to open the remaining gift, which could be something worth keeping.

• When a gift is stolen three times it is retired and can no longer be stolen.

• All gifts must stay in the room and remain in clear, visible sight so everyone can see if they want to steal it. There have been incidents where some will try to hide their gift or try to sneak it out to the car.

Whatever you call it this Christmas, you're sure to have fun with this game.  

Leave a comment and let us know the worst Christmas present you have ever received.

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