Games and activities make any gift exchange festive. Whether you are hosting a gag gift exchange or your family has drawn names, these games are sure to put a smile on your guests' faces.
Blindfolded Musical Gift Exchange
Add festive Christmas music to your exchange! To make the game work best, you should have at least 10 guests so there are plenty of chairs and gifts to go around. This game will work for any age or type of guests, from children to adults, and whether people are close or just met.
- Blindfold for each guest
- Chair for each guest
- Christmas music (mobile device works best)
Game Set Up
- Set chairs in a circle in the party venue.
- Put a blindfold on each chair.
- Have your musical selections set on your phone, iPod, mp3 player, or other device.
How to Play
- Collect all the gifts from the guests and put them in a central location.
- Ask the guests to all choose a chair and put on the blindfold placed on it.
- Once the blindfolds are in place, hand each guest a gift.
- Play Christmas music and have everyone hand their gift to the person on their right.
- Keep handing the gifts to the person on the right until the music stops.
- Once the music has stopped, guests should leave their blindfolds on and open the gifts.
- They can then use their hands to feel the gift and decide whether they want to keep the gift or not.
- If they want to keep the gift they have received, they can take off their blindfold. Those who are out of the game should still remain in their chairs to help pass the gifts, but should pull their gifts out of the rotation. If the music stops and they are holding a gift, they should pass it along to the person next to them since they will not be keeping it.
- If they want to play again, they will stay in for the next round.
- The game stops when there are only two players with their blindfolds on because otherwise, they would just pass the remaining gifts back and forth to each other.
Christmas Card Match
Save last year's Christmas cards or use up the free ones you get in the mail to get this exchange party started. There is no limit to the number of guests that can participate in this game. This game can be played by guests of all ages and adjusted based on a mixed age group.
- Christmas cards
Game Set Up
- Prior the party, gather or purchase a variety of Christmas cards. You don't want any two cards to be alike. You will need one card per participant.
- Cut all the cards in half.
- Put one half of the cards into envelopes and put the other parts of the cards into a bowl.
- When guests arrive with a gift, choose a random card half to tape onto their gift and set it aside.
How to Play
- When its time for the gift exchange, ask guests to choose an envelope (with half of a card inside).
- Once everyone has chosen an envelope, players should open them to reveal the card inside.
- The guests should then proceed to the pile of gifts to find the gift with the other half of the card.
- If the players are evenly matched (all the same age and ability), you can have the players race to find their gift. If it is a mismatched crowd of varying ages or abilities, then it is safest to encourage an orderly find.
- Guests can then open their gifts. You can have the gifts opened by the youngest to the oldest or, if it was a race, in the order in which they were found.
Follow Santa's Footprints
Half the fun of this game is hunting for the gifts, and it works with white elephant, blind, or name-draw exchange styles. Any number of guests will work with this game, from a small party of only a couple of people or a large group of 50. This game is great for a family of all ages, who have designated gifts for certain guests. This will also work for young children who enjoy hide-n-go-seek or treasure hunts.
- A venue with several hiding places
- Paper cut-outs of a man's footprints - Use a clean shoe as a template to cut prints out of red construction paper. The number of prints you need will depend on the number of gifts that will be hidden and the size of your venue.
Game Set Up
- Prior to the party, cut the footprint shapes out of red construction paper.
- Before guests arrive, scout out the party venue for some good hiding places for gifts.
How to Play
- The host will collect the gifts as the guests arrive.
- Ask the entire party to step into another room.
- Hide the gifts in your predetermined locations. It's best if you have a big venue, with nooks and corners. If you have a small party, say under five people, you can hide all the gifts in one place. If you have a larger group of people, it is more fun and easier to hide the gifts in multiple locations. With multiple locations, divide groups up by age or how you placed the gifts.
- Lay the "Santa Footprints" on the ground, leading from the entrance of the party venue to the hidden gifts. If you have hidden the gifts in multiple locations, you will have several footprint paths.
- Allow guests to return to the party room.
- Guests will follow the footprints until they find the gifts.
- If you have gifts with name-tags on them, make the decision whether you want guests to ignore other people's gifts and only announce when they have found their own gifts or if you want them to bring all found gifts to a central table. If you do not have any names on the packages (like a white elephant exchange), just allow guests to keep the first gift they find.
- After all the gifts have been found, allow guests to open their presents. The team/pair/person who followed the footprints fastest can open first.
Get to Know You Gift Exchange
If you are hosting a party with guests who do not know each other very well, this game will help them all get acquainted. This game is perfect for a group between 10 to 40 people. It is geared towards Middle School through Adult attendees. Younger kids would not be able to read the cards in order to participate in the exchange. Ideally, this game would be played with people who do not know each other well.
- Index cards
Game Set Up
Prior to the party, write the following instructions (and others) onto index cards. You will need at least one (ideally two or more) for each guest. Instructions should help people mix and exchange gifts as they mingle.
- Trade your gift for any gift wrapped in red paper.
- Trade your gift with someone wearing a Christmas sweater.
- Trade your gift for any gift with a bow.
- Trade your gift with the first person who talks with you.
- Trade your gift with someone whose first name starts with a vowel.
- Exchange your gift with someone you haven't talked with yet.
- Close your eyes, spin and point at someone. Trade your gift with that person.
- Trade your gift with someone wearing tennis shoes.
How to Play
- When guests arrive, ask them to place their gifts on a table.
- After all guests have arrived, ask everyone to choose a gift from the pile on the table.
- Guests can either open their gift or keep it unopened.
- Then ask everyone to take one of the index cards that you wrote prior to the party.
- The guests then have to follow the instructions on the card.
- They do not have to follow the instructions immediately, but do have to follow the rule prior to the end of the party. Alternatively, you can set a timer up for exchanging the gifts.
- Once the guests have all followed their instructions, the game is done. If they are unable to follow the instructions on their card (for instance, there aren't any gifts that have bows), they should choose another card.
Planning for the Gift Exchange
To avoid possible awkwardness, it is wise for a host to have a few uni-sex gifts that can be enjoyed by guests of all ages. If a guest or two fails to bring a gift to exchange, you can still include them in the festivities by having some extra gifts ready for them to use. These types of gifts include movies, music CDs, gift cards, boxes of candy, or ear buds.