Picture: Pikrepo.
Picture: Pikrepo.

Christmas gifting games to play at your next party

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Dec 1, 2020

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Long queues, crowded malls and the stress of finding the perfect gift can take away from all the festive fun — especially when present shopping starts to break the bank.

Whether you’re looking for a fun party game that everyone can get involved in or are looking for a gifting solution that’s fairly budget friendly — this list of gifting games will add merriment to any get together.

And, because the rules only require each person to buy one present each, everyone will save on spending.

Secret Santa

From office parties to end-of-year functions, by now, you’ve probably been included in a game of Secret Santa. In advance, draw names out of a hat (or use a website to generate names) so that everyone playing is assigned a person to shop for.

On the day of the party, have guests discreetly place their presents in a pile under the Christmas tree or on a table somewhere to avoid finding out who brought what.

Make sure every person puts the name of their person they’re gifting on their present. However, they must not include their own names. When it’s game time, hand out the gifts one by one and have fun guessing who your gifter was.

White Elephant

One main aspect of this game, which also happens to form the basis for all the games to follow, is getting everyone to pick out a gift with no one in particular in mind. It can be something useful, gender-neutral, or quirky depending on what your group decides on.

Each guest should arrive at the party with their present wrapped. Although this game goes by the name White Elephant, it’s also called Dirty Santa (with good reason).

Pulling a number out a bag will determine the order of who gets to unwrap their gift first. The aim of the game is to steal and swap gifts.

The rules can get a little complex, fortunately there is an entire website dedicated to explaining them, perfect for attaching to the office email and invites so everyone can get right down to playing.

Switch, Steal, Unwrap

A far less heated version of the White Elephant game, this one also involves the stealing and swapping of gifts, but it is far less intense as the roll of a dice decides on your next move.

With all the presents in the centre of the circle, roll a dice to see who picks a gift first, second, third and so on. Usually, the highest roll goes first. Thereafter, everyone will take a turn to roll with each dice number having a different rule attached to it.

The rules are as follows:

1 – Trade gift with the person across from you

2 – Trade gift with the person to your left

3 – Trade gift with the person to your right

4 – Trade gift with a person of your choice

5 – Unwrap your gift

Pass the Parcel

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Popular at baby showers and children’s birthdays, this game is a party classic that builds suspense with every passing second.

Start off with everyone putting their wrapped gifts in a pile in the centre with everyone gathered around in a circle.

The objective of the game is to pass a present around while the music plays, when the music stops, the person still holding the gift gets to open it.

There are a tonne of playlists available on YouTube with party music containing random stops throughout so nobody needs to sit out to monitor the music and everyone can join in on the fun.

Gift Hunt

This game is all about being sneaky, gathering clues and having incredible detective skills. It starts out just like Secret Santa — with everyone receiving a person who they purchase a gift for.

Then, instead of simply handing out everyone’s presents at the party, have the guests secretly hide their gifts somewhere at the venue. In order to find the gifts, the givers will have to write a clue for the receiver.

The Gift Hunting game can be as simple or as complex as you like. And, you can include as many clues as you want and add various levels to the game to make it more exciting. For example, there can be gift stealing and swapping.

Mystery Gift

Place all the wrapped presents in a large sack and have your guests stick their hand inside and pull out a gift each without seeing.

They can take a moment to feel around to get an idea of the shape and weight to help make their decision. After everyone has their gifts picked, everyone can take turns opening them and taking turns to guess who bought what.

General etiquette:

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  • Decide on a gift budget that suits everyone and try your best to comply with it.
  • If you accept an invite to one of these games you have to bring a gift. If you forget or change your mind at the last minute, one person will be left presentless at the party.
  • Decide whether everyone will be doing joke gifts or serious gifts beforehand. That way no one is left with gift envy.
  • Follow the gifting rules, especially for the games where stealing and swapping are involved to avoid hurt feelings.
  • If you land up with something you don’t like, graciously accept it. Pouting and complaining dampens the light-hearted spirit of the games.

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