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Gift Exchange Games

Gauri Waikar
Although Christmas seems to be a popular occasion for playing gift exchange games, the truth is that these games can be modified and played as and when life gives you a chance. After all, life is all about exchanging sweet surprises, isn't it?
Gift exchange games are great aids to spice up your celebrations. They can be easily planned for a party at home or in your office. These games are quite a blessing when it comes to getting away with unwanted gifts at home. However, there are also chances that you may end up with a gift that is weirder than the one you got rid off!
Yes, the best part about these games is the fact that you can play them with or without any budget. To decide the kind of gifts that would be exchanged in the party, it is best to have a 'themed gift exchange'.
This means that it would be predetermined as to what kinds of gifts would be expected―unused gifts lying at home, gag gifts, small inexpensive gifts, handmade gifts, or gifts set within a budget (say below $20 or so).
Different games call for different kinds of gifts. And this is what adds to the fun quotient of the whole activity. If you too are up to making your next get together a 'gift exchange party', then the following section will give you some great games to include.


Be it a party at home, office, or perhaps a picnic with friends, these games are more than enough to get the fun started! In fact, you wouldn't get a better icebreaker if the party includes people you don't know that well. The following are some of the popular games that are ideal for exchanging gifts.

➥ The White Elephant Game

In this game, every guest is asked to bring along a gift. The gift should be simple and inexpensive, and is mostly an unused item from home. It can be anything from candles to trinkets to handmade cards to small artistic stuff. The guests are asked to sit in a circle, and a bag containing all the gifts is circulated among them. You can either use chits to determine the order of choosing the gifts, or go as per the order of guest arrivals.
The first person will choose a gift, unwrap it, and show it to everyone. The second one can either choose another unwrapped gift or steal the gift of the first person. The process is repeated until all the gifts are distributed. You can set your own rules, such as, a gift cannot be stolen more than three times, a person cannot steal more than five times, etc.

➥ The Secret Santa

In this game, all guests have to get gifts with no names on them. The names of all the guests will be written on chits and circulated. Each guest has to pick a chit, making sure it does not contain their own name. The name on the chit should not be disclosed to anyone. Write that name on your gift and place it on the table. Also, give a hint about yourself. Now it is the recipients' turn to guess who their 'secret Santa' is.

➥ Treasure Hunt

Hide all the gifts and make a clue chit about the location of each. Prepare different clue chits and distribute them among the guests. Every guest can pick only one chit. They have to search for the hidden gifts with the help of the clues. Don't give direct clues.
Make the guesswork of the hidden place as difficult as possible. The first guest to get to the place is the winner. At the end of the game the first winner gets the privilege of having his/her own gift, plus stealing someone's gift.

➥ The Left-Right Game

Make all guests sit in a circle with the gifts they have brought with them. Tell someone to stand in between the circle and read a short story. Edit the story beforehand and include the words 'left' and 'right' randomly. As the narrator utters the word 'right', the guests should circulate the gifts in a clockwise direction.
Likewise, when the word 'left' is uttered, the guests should start circulating their gifts in an anti-clockwise direction. By the end everyone gets the gift they're holding.

➥ Musical Gifts

This is an adaption of the classic game of 'Musical Chairs'. You need to make your guests sit on chairs, in a circle of course. Depending upon the number of people in the group, pick one, two, or three gifts that will be rotated among them.
As the music begins to play, the gift is to be passed to the next person in a clockwise manner. When the music stops, the person holding the gift wins and is excluded from the game. The process continues till everyone gets a gift.

➥ Riddle Exchange

This one is interesting and intelligent. Pretty simple really, but needs a bit of homework. Ask the guests to bring wrapped gifts without any names. You need to label each gift with the answer of a riddle, the riddles that you have selected beforehand.
When everyone is settled, ask the riddle to the crowd and see who is the first one to answer correctly. The one who does, gets the gift that is labeled with the answer of the riddle asked.

➥ Twins Exchange

It could be quite uncomfortable to see someone else wearing the same outfit as yours at the same time. However, this could be an added advantage when it comes to this game. Here, the only rule is that the ones who share some similarity in their appearance or outfit would exchange gifts.
For example, those wearing red heels would exchange gifts among themselves, or those with the same hairdo would do the honors of receiving each other's gifts. An interesting twist to this game would be to organize a costume party, and see who dresses up in the same theme!
The best part about these party games is that you can make as many variations to the rules as per the theme and setting of the party. You can be as creative, eccentric, and crazy as you want, to come up with your own set of rules, and taking the game to the next level. If you have added some interesting twists to such games, twists that were appreciated by your guests, do take a moment to share them with us through the comments section below. Cheers!