10 Gift Exchanging Games To Play On Christmas That Aren't 'White Elephant' (Slideshow)

10 Gift Exchanging Games to Play on Christmas That Aren't ‘White Elephant’

If you're tired of nasty Christmases, or if the game gets a little too dramatic in your family, there are plenty of gift-giving game alternatives. Go out and buy your $10-to-$20 gift, wrap it with a big shiny bow, and pass it along. Just remember to have fun and be kind; it is the holidays, after all.

Christmas Auction

Before this game, give all your party guests a pre-determined amount of Monopoly money to play with and set a bunch of gifts at the front of the room. Leave some gifts unwrapped, for obvious gift-receiving, and have some wrapped gifts for some Let's Make a Deal-style mystery. Then, auction the presents off to the highest bidder. Whether the auctioneers accept other forms of payment (e.g., back rubs, cups of coffee, real money) is up to them, giving this game a possibly game-changing twist.

Christmas Card Puzzle

Before the party, cut up old Christmas cards into several pieces, creating a puzzle out of the design. Mix your newly cut puzzle pieces in boxes, leaving one out as a gift tag on various wrapped gifts. Then, have your guests choose a homemade puzzle to put together (or assign them cards). Make them race to put together the puzzles and identify the present with the corresponding final, missing piece. Whoever puts the puzzle together the fastest and finds the associated gift will open thhis or her present first.

To learn how to recycle Christmas cards into holiday décor, click here!

Cobweb Party

This game was all the rage during the Victorian era. Each party guest will be assigned a color of yarn, and the ends of each string will all be together in one room. The other end of the yarn, across the house, will have a gift attached to it. Between the starting point and the gift at the end of the string, the yarn can go under the furniture, crisscross with other yarn trails, and go down (or up) staircases. Guests will follow the yarn through the obstacles to find their presents. People bump into each other in merriment as they hasten to the end — just be careful not to trip!


All this game requires is a set of dice and a timer, making it one of the easiest gift exchanges. Have participants sit in a circle with a pile of gift cards (of a predetermined amount) in the middle. Set the timer for five minutes. The youngest participant will start the game by rolling a die, and once he/she lands a 6, he/she picks a gift card from the center of the pile. Then, the die is passed to the left and the process continues. On the second round, when players roll a 6, they can steal/trade gift cards. Continue the game until the timer runs out or until everyone is happy with their gift card.

Is it tacky to gift a restaurant gift card? Find out here!

Holiday Trivia

Play a little trivia with a gift-giving twist. Have a bunch of Christmas-themed questions ready (e.g., "Name all of Santa's reindeer," "What gifts did the three wise men bring baby Jesus?") of varying levels of difficulty. As your family correctly answer the questions, they are able to select a gift from the pile. Whether you leave the presents wrapped (for mystery) or unwrapped (for the best possible selection) is up to you.

For little-known facts about classic Christmas foods, click here!

Hot Potato

Everyone brings an unwrapped gift to the party, with varying prices established before the gathering. Have all of your party guests stand (or sit) in a circle and play a Christmas music mix. Playing with one gift at a time, pass around the present until the music comes to a stop. The good gifts will get passed very slowly, while the gag gifts will fly from hand to hand, making for one of the more hilarious gift exchanges.

For 15 songs you need at every Christmas party, click here!

Left-Right Game

Have your family and friends sit in a big circle, and everyone starts with a (wrapped) gift. One person, whom we'll call the narrator, will read a Christmas-themed story filled with "lefts" and "rights." When each direction pops up, participants will pass the gift to their left or right. At the end of the story, whichever gift you end up with is yours!

Plastic Wrap Christmas

Before the party, buy a variety of small gifts, one small (but nice) gift, and an industrial-sized box of plastic wrap. Create a ball of plastic wrap, using the most expensive present as the center. Throughout the ball, put in various other presents, such as candy canes, gift certificates, cash, and little holiday trinkets. To play, one person will start by unwrapping the massive ball while the person to their right rolls a pair of dice, trying to get doubles. Once they land doubles, the gift ball will be passed on (and so on) until the prize at the center is revealed.

For 10 outrageous candy cane flavors, click here!

Themed Exchange

Every guest starts with a wrapped gift (whether or not it's the gift he or she brought to the party is up to the host) and sits in a circle. Then, one person will choose which groups of people are going to swap. For example, anyone wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, anyone who came to the party from out of state, or anyone whose last name contains an "R"  will exchange gifts. As soon as everyone has traded presents (at least once), the game is finished and whatever gift people wind up with is what they unwrap! 

Treasure Hunt

Call it Christmas meets Easter. Buy a bunch of mini Christmas stockings, and fill them with small gifts (money, $5 gift cards, candy, little toys, etc.). Hide them around the house and have children run around and find the stocking stuffers.

For 10 kitchen gifts for less than $10, click here!