One of my favorite activities during the holidays is gathering with friends and having a Dirty Santa (or White Elephant) gift exchange! And lucky for me, my first (of 3) of these types of parties of the season is this weekend. I love to see what gifts everyone comes up with for a lot of laughing is usually guaranteed. The group of friends at the party this coming weekend never ceases to amaze me with their creativity and cleverness of presents they bring!
If you have never played this type of gift exchange game or just need a little refresher course, I thought I’d share some of the rules, some tips I have found to not only be helpful, but quite necessary at times, and some fun gift ideas.
HOW TO PLAY:
1. Have everyone who wants to participate in the gift exchange bring a wrapped gift within the price range that is prior set by the hosts.
2. Display gifts so that everyone can inspect the available gifts to choose from.
3. Have participating guests draw a number from a bowl up to the number of people playing.
4. The person who drew #1 selects a wrapped gift and opens it. Be sure all players get to see what it is.
5. Person #2 gets to choose whether to steal #1’s opened gift or select a new wrapped gift to open.
6. If #2 steals the gift, then #1 has to open a new gift.
7. Next #3 plays. He gets to choose whether to steal an opened gift or select a new wrapped gift to open.
8. If he steals a gift, that person gets to choose whether to steal a different opened gift or select a new wrapped gift to open.
9. The player that gets a gift stolen from them gets to choose whether to steal another opened gift or select a new wrapped gift to open. (They may not steal back the gift that was immediately stolen from them, but may do so in a future round or if someone else has possession in between).
10. Play continues on in this manner, but once a gift is stolen a set amount of times it is then considered “frozen” and the last stealer wins that gift… until everyone has a gift.
1. Specify the type of gift exchange it will be. I’ve been to “new/good items” gift exchanges, something you find around your house trades, and even after-Christmas parties where you bring the least desirable gift you received for the holiday.
2. If going with new items, set a spending range. A minimum and maximum dollar amount are helpful. No one wants to end up with a QuikTrip pickle when they spent good money on a nice bottle of wine.
3. Set rules PRIOR to starting the game. Trust me. It can get pretty tense and ugly if you don’t specify if the gift is ‘frozen’ on the third possession or the third steal. Sounds like the same thing… it soooooo is not.
4. A twist on the basic rules is that if at the end of the game the #1 gift opener is still holding their original gift then he gets to have the last chance to steal or can decide to keep it. This way, if the first gift opened was less than desirable, they aren’t stuck with it and get the opportunity to swap it out with any other gift that is still “open” of their choice. (Again, establish whether or not this rule will be enforced prior to game time!)
5. Encourage stealing! If friends are too shy to steal a prize from another, and everyone ends up opening a new gift each turn, then the game will be over in a matter of minutes. The more stealing there is, the more fun is had!
1. I know “snuggies” may be overdone as gag gifts (and SUPER overdone as ‘real’ gifts), but who could resist a through-back to childhood with this Rainbow Brite Snuggler?? image via 80sTees.com
2. An original Nintendo NES game controller iPhone cover! image via Tick and Pick Etsy Shop
3. NinjaBread Men are way more fun to eat. These cookie cutters paired with some cookie dough is a definite hit. image via ThinkGeek
4. HandleBar mustache corkscrew, along with a nice bottle of wine, is definitely sure to be stolen! image via Fred Flare
5. And you can never go wrong with a pack or case of a favorite beverage, especially if it is dressed up for Christmas. image via Pinterest, original source unknown