Christmas Gift Exchange Game - The Chinese Christmas

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One of the most fun ideas for a Christmas gift exchange at an office party or at a home party is a game commonly called Chinese Christmas. I don’t know how or where the name came from, because it has absolutely nothing to do with the Chinese. Not only that, many people find the reference to Chinese downright insulting.

Because of that, I’m encouraging the use of other lesser-known names such as Yankee Swap, Gift War, Grinch Exchange, Dirty Santa, Rob Your Neighbor, White Elephant, Nasty Christmas, and Thieving Secret Santa. My personal favorite is Grinch Exchange.

I left “Chinese Christmas” in the title of the article because that’s how people search for it. But please select a different name to use when you play this game… and encourage others to do the same.

How the game is played…

The game is fun, because each person gets to select a wrapped gift, unwrap it and then possibly lose it to someone else and have to select again. Being able to select from unwrapped gifts or “steal” a gift someone is holding is what makes this game so much fun.

Here are the rules:

When planning the party, decide how much should be spent on the gifts. Twenty to thirty dollars is usually an agreeable price since each person is buying only one gift. The amount can be more or less. It’s your group’s call.

All gifts should be wrapped (and may I suggest you make yours look extra special). Put the gifts together under the tree, on a table, wherever convenient. And if you’re not sure what gift to bring I’ve added a few cool but inexpensive gift ideas a little further down the page

Each person selects a number from a basket or bowl to determine the order in which a person gets to select a gift. Number 1 goes first and gets to select and unwrap a gift. Everyone oohs and aahs or mentally thinks, “Boy, I’m glad I didn’t select that.”

Number 2 then selects. But she may take Number 1’s gift or she may select a gift from the pile. If she takes Number 1’s gift, Number 1 gets to select again from the pile. After she has finished her turn, Number 3 gets to select.

Once again, she may select any opened or unopened gift. Each time a gift is taken away from someone, that person gets to select again. She may select any gift except the one that was just taken away from her. She may however, have the opportunity to select it again later.

Some gifts are occasionally more popular and may get stolen several times. The fourth person to possess it gets to keep it. No more swiping the gift. The gift is frozen.
At the end of the game, Number 1 gets to select again, and take someone else’s gift if she wants to, but she doesn’t have to. She is actually forcing a trade. The only gifts she can’t take are those that are frozen.

Don’t be afraid to swipe a gift from someone. The more takeaways and turnovers there are, the more fun the game seems to be. Some of the best times have been when a particular gift gets swiped several times. There are always lots of laughs and sometimes gifts get swiped just for the fun of it. This is especially true when men are playing. They don’t seem to care about the gifts as much as having fun stirring things up.

And after the game is over, if you and someone else wants to trade gifts, that’s O.K. too.

Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas

When we play this gift exchange game in my family we usually set the spending limit at $35.

Funny Gag Gifts – $10 to $20

Sometimes it’s fun to include a funny gag gift or two in the gift exchange game. It makes the game a lot more interesting.

Chocolate Diet Plan

Chocolate Doo Doo Drop Gift Bag

Scorpion Suckers (w/ REAL Scorpions!)

Gift Exchange Ideas Under $35

Here are a number of useful items and gadgets with unique twists that would make great gifts for your gift exchange game.

Commuter Cup gift exchange idea
The Best Commuter Cup
Single Cup Coffeemaker gift idea
Single Cup Coffeemaker

iPhone Fastback Case
Rechargeable Hand Warmers gift idea
Rechargeable Hand Warmers

My Steak Chef Digital Timer

Wine Vac

7 in 1 Emergency Auto Tool

Gift Exchange Ideas Under $25

All these gift ideas are about $25 or less. These mini gift baskets are especially good for a gift exchange because just about anybody will enjoy them. And I’ve tasted many of the gourmet goodies in these baskets and I can tell you they are quite tasty. These are definitely not your average gift baskets! You’ll be the person at the party that brought the cool gift. They’re great for office gift exchanges too!

Gift exchange 'Mini' Christmas Gift Basket™
‘Mini’ Christmas Gift Basket™icon

Coffee Break ‘Mini’ Gift Basket™
Taste of New England ‘Mini’ Breakfast Gift Basket™
Taste of New England ‘Mini’ Breakfast Gift Basket™
Flavors of Italy ‘Mini’ Italian Gift Basket™
Flavors of Italy ‘Mini’ Italian Gift Basket™
'Mini' Snack Gift Basket
‘Mini’ Snack Gift Basket
‘Mini’ Chocolate Gift Basket
‘Mini’ Chocolate Gift Basket
Electric Corkscrew Gift Exchange Idea
The Best Electric Corkscrew

The New York Times Crossword Puzzle Retrospective
Chocolate-Opoly Board Game
Chocolate-Opoly Board Game

Stereo Headphone - Two Pack

Sleep Therapy Pillow Speakers

Natural Spectrum Book Light
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There are currently 70 responses to “Christmas Gift Exchange Game - The Chinese Christmas .” Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1


    November 15th, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    I love this game. My family and I play it every year :)

  2. 2


    November 16th, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea to change the name of the game!! My favourite was Grinch Exchange as well. Thank you for the summary on the rules couldn’t quite remember them all and we are going to try it with my husband’s family this year - yahoo!!

  3. 3


    November 19th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    My family plays this every year. With 24 adults, we have more laughs with this game! The guys do like to stir things up a bit. Somehow it becomes more like a Liquor exchange.

  4. 4


    November 19th, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    We stop playing this several years ago because it got out of hand because they changed the rules to unlimited steals. People started getting mad. It seemed everyone had their own idea of what the rules were. My son in law has never played the game and has requested we play this year. Thank you for the rules because I plan to read them before we start the game this Xmas so it will be fun again.

  5. 5


    November 22nd, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I never did like this game. We played it at one of our company Christmas party and some people got angry because there were some bigger ticket item gifts that others had the opportunity to take away. I always participate but never take from another person - I think it’s a greedy, mean-spirited way to conduct a gift exchange. It’s contrary to the season.

  6. 6


    November 23rd, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    We plan on doing this again this year on our girls night out evening. This year we are doing Christmas Ornaments.. should be fun. Thanks for listing the rules :)

  7. 7


    November 26th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I’ve played this game at work and with my family. I prefer to play with my family because it’s a lot more fun. I totally agree about the name. We actually researched the name because we weren’t sure of the Chinese reference and thought it was offensive. I also prefer the name Grinch Exchange and thanks for the rules. I don’t think we played by all of them before, but we had a great time!

  8. 8


    November 26th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I personally like the “Yankee Swap”…especially the way our family started playing it last year. Instead of purchasing a gift, we would pick something from our home and wrap it up! That even makes for more fun….getting someone else’s “junk”!

  9. 9


    November 27th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    We play this game every year at our work Christmas party. We only spend $10-15 and come up with some really nice gift ideas: fuzzy socks, candles, holiday dishes, jewelry, movie tickets, etc. It is a fun game but every year,, when the excitement rises with everyone wanting the prettiest wrapped gift, no one remembers the rules and how many times that item can be stolen.
    We’ve never unwrapped the gift—just keep robbing for the lovely gift wrapping or the odd/interesting shape of the gift. Thanks for the rules—-I’m printing it now!

  10. 10


    November 27th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I love this and am so glad I found your site as I couldn’t remember the rules!!
    Thank you,

  11. 11


    November 27th, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Hi, this is a great way to get together and have a great laugh. One time, we played and the worse present was a mermaid pinata, it was hillarious…

  12. 12


    November 28th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Very fun, the more people the better.

  13. 13


    November 28th, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    My family played this every year for several years. It was the one part of Christmas that everyone looked forward to the most. I’ll never forget my stepbrother and my sister-in-law almost fighting over the set of Rooster dishes……… the end, they agreed to split them.

  14. 14


    November 30th, 2010 at 12:43 am

    My Choir plays this game at our final practice/potluck. We all have a great time, and yes, now we have many different names to choose from for this fun game. To Jenny, I’m sorry that you have had a bad experience with this game, but most people don’t go into this game with the idea of being selfish. I’m sure some will be and are, but for the most part it is used to have a good laugh, and of course along with the season to rejoice in our faith, it’s also a good time to have a good laugh.

  15. 15


    November 30th, 2010 at 11:14 am

    We have conducted this type of gift exchange at our work Christmas party for several years. The best gag gift I’ve seen was a roll of toilet paper with a $20.00 bill hidden by being rolled into it’s center. The gift is shuned by would be robbers until the $20.00 bill is detected. We run a $20.00 Limit on the gifts.

  16. 16


    December 1st, 2010 at 11:55 am

    We play this ‘White Elephant’ Gift exchange game also. Sometimes we set a price limit. Sometimes we play with the theme of bringing something that we don’t need anymore. This works when families have gotten too big to buy for everyone, so there is no extra money involved. The rule here is that it has to be ‘lightly used’ & must be useful. IT CANNOT BE JUNK. If it is broken don’t even think about bringing it! We play with the rule that once a person has succeeded in retrieving a gift for the third time, then nobody else can take that gift from them again. It is fun and keeps the game interesting.
    This year we are going to try a small package of candy or cookies with a set limit food or entertainment gift card attached & wrapped up for the white elephant exchange.

  17. 17


    December 1st, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I am from the Top of the World - Barrow, Alaska and our North Slope Borough Health & Social Services is planning on playing this game. Its lots of Fun!! One of our Inupiaq Values is Sharing and the Spirit of Sharing kicks in when we are playing this fun game and our thoughts are “They need it more I did” Let us Remember the Spirit of Christmas - Love, Kindness, Joy! All the Good things of Life and Share it with our Families and Friends….Merriest Christmas!!

  18. 18


    December 2nd, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    My favorite grinch gift happened by accident-literally. Just before the game began, we discovered a pyrex dish had been placed to warm in the oven with its plastic lid on. The lid was warped and melted, before anyone saw it, my mother quickly wrapped and placed it in the gift pile. As luck would have it, my sister (the queen of pranksters) was the owner of the dish. The look on her face when the gift was opened was priceless. It is now my family’s favorite gift and is stolen, saved by the lucky owner, and magically reappears year after year.

  19. 19

    Martha Moore

    December 5th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    We play this game every year at our employee Christmas party, and it is a lot of fun. A few times it has gotten a little ugly though, when someone got mad when their gift was stolen. At first we didn’t set a limit on how many times a single gift could be stolen, and the game got out of hand and almost went on forever, so now we freeze the gift on the fourth person; i.e., the same gift can’t be stolen more than three times. We have had some people who say they won’t take someone else’s gift because that wouldn’t be nice, but that is what makes the game so much fun. The more stealing, the better!

  20. 20


    December 5th, 2010 at 5:19 pm


  21. 21

    Deborah Labbe

    December 5th, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    My family used to play this all the time. I’m starting it up again this year. We called it “Yankee Swap” and we were cheap, we stuck to a $5 limit, maybe that’s why we had so much fun because it’s not like a huge gift can get stolen from anyone.

  22. 22


    December 5th, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    @ Jim,
    It states that number 1 “is actually forcing a trade.” So at that point the game is over. But you could change the rule where by number 1 does not get a chance to steal a gift at the end of the game. Then it would be over once the final unopened gift is selected.

  23. 23


    December 7th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    A couple of things to consider when planning to have this for a party game: Let your guests know the game will be played at a party and give out the rules in advance, before guests RSVP. Some find this game offensive (maybe more than you know) and should have the opportunity to not attend or at least plan to sit there and pretend to enjoy themselves. Never play this game with minors, friends will connive together to get the best gifts, even if they are only under $5 and the only person to have fun will be the group bully. And never, ever spring this out of the blue by yelling “Yankee Gift Swap!” on anyone just because you like their gift better, as I have seen it done at a Christmas party that was not of this nature. That said, if you really enjoy this tasteless, low class game, then have as much fun as you can, and try to make it that way for the rest of your guests.

  24. 24


    December 8th, 2010 at 9:48 am

    A gift that was fought over, other than alcohol, was a birdfeeder and birdseed. IT also made a 20 pound + gift.

  25. 25


    December 8th, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    This is a fun game. Played it a couple of years ago and I had a really nice gift taken away. You don’t get mad because it’s a game and you didn’t have anything before you started anyway. Just have fun!!! Make sure you set a limit so their is no gift more expensive than another.

  26. 26


    December 10th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    This game has been played by my wife’s family for many, many years. Everyone has fun except the people who don’t ever have any fun anyway. We set our limits pretty low and you would be surpised to see what you can get for just a few bucks. We usually set a limit of 2-3 times for an exhange. I’ve ended-up with some nice things and well…some stuff. It’s always good for next year! Who says re-gifting is wrong. Merry Christmas everyone!

  27. 27

    Hailey and Lauryn

    December 10th, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Haven’t played it sound like soooooooooooo much fun

  28. 28


    December 11th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    it is really a fun way to have christmas especially for those familys that have so many to buy for , this way you only have to buy one gift….but for those of you that are greedy…don’t be expecting a nice gift,that you were hoping for, cause thats not what this game is about,…enjoy and have fun with it…this will be my second year playing and well I guess I did not understand it the first time…so make sure you let everyone playing know, what kind of gifts are expected….rather be a funny gift, a useful gift, or maybe something anyone may need.,otherwise someone may be insulted at what they end up with…

  29. 29


    December 11th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    This should be fun for the whole gang. I encourage each person to think up their own gift, then you have more ownership in the process. The kids especially get a kick out watching the adults interact like they were 10 years old again! Whatever you do, don’t take it seriously!

    $5 gift limit, gently used or “collectable” heirloom has been our rule. Creative and G rated gag gifts are encouraged especially with children in attendance. A $1 toy “The Body” has repeatedly been regifted over the years. We added the rule that a gift can only be regifted for three years and then it has to be retired. (But I bet “The Body” will make a comeback in a couple of years!)

    The best gift of all is the time spent together laughing and teasing! That is when memories are made. There was great disappointment the year we didn’t schedule a Silly Santa Party.

    Merry Christmas!

  30. 30


    December 12th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    We played this game last night and it was soooo much fun. We limited it to $10.00, It was so funny watching the interaction between couples - encouraging their partner to swipe a gift that they missed out on! This is a light hearted fun game, and can be ruined only by people who get too serious and too greedy. As long as the gifts are not expensive, what does it matter if you end up with a gift you don’t need. Its more about the friendly banter, the ‘indignation’ when your gift that you like is swiped, and the laughter that goes with it. After we played this fun game we, as the host, bought a secret present worth about $20.00. We then asked everyone to put their numbers in the hat again and had a lucky draw.

  31. 31


    December 12th, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Our family does this every year with a $10.00 limit which after awhile kind of got boring so now each year we change it up a little. For example we have been using the alphabet the last few years and the $10.00 gift has to start with that letter. This year is “E”. So I anticipate some earmuffs, earrings, energy drinks,,,,,,,,etc. It’s kind of fun and makes you think a little before you go out and buy your gift.

  32. 32


    December 13th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    @ Jim: You can either let the first person “force a trade” by simply trading for the gift they want (which forces the person they stole from to end the game with the first person’s gift), OR you can have the first person “set aside” their gift, so that it becomes the “last gift,” and allow stealing until somebody chooses that “last gift” to end the game.

    We didn’t like the fact that sometimes a person never really got to participate because they opened a gift that nobody wanted to steal. So instead of letting #1 start a new round at the end, we decided to go back through the numbers and anybody who was still holding the gift they had originally opened got the opportunity to start a new round if they wanted to (using the “set aside” rule above).

  33. 33


    December 13th, 2010 at 10:40 am

    My family plays this every year with a $10 limit. Some of the most fun gifts were two packs of razors with a ten hiddne between them, a rubber chicken with a $10 Chick fil a gift card, a cell phone stand (didn’t look like anything).

  34. 34


    December 13th, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Just for interest’s sake: There’s nothing inherently offensive about the name “Chinese Gift Exchange.” The name derives from a Chinese belief about destiny…even random choices are not random at all etc. Lighten up folks! Happy holidays!

  35. 35


    December 13th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    We played this game (White Elephant gifting) at my job’s Christimas party last year and decided to do it at our family get together. It was hilarious and we had a great time. My son recently reminded me how upset he was to receive toothpaste, toothbrush with a coffee mug and coffee. (we still had regular gifts too!) I will do it again this year, but with a twist…I will read a story that include the right/left and everyone will past gifts around and at the end of the story you keep whatever gift you end of with. (Saw this on another website as the I was researching for a different way to play this year.) Won’t do gags this year, but pratical gifts that anyone can use…movie tickets, candles, books, etc. and limit the amount to maybe $10. It’s all about spending time with family and having a good time. No one feels pressured to buy three of four gifts…this way each person gets a gift. Tight budgets and limited incomes makes it hard to purchase lots of gifts..this will ease the burden for all. Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year to all! :)

  36. 36


    December 14th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    We play this game at our annual Christmas party we host every year. Since it has been hard economically the past 2 years, we set a five dollar gift limit. It can be a “gag” gift as long as it is tasteful. This is noted in party invitations so everyone is aware before they RSVP. So far we have people who actually ask if we are going to “do this” because they enjoy the game. It is great to hear all the laughter and see everyone enjoying themselves. I have also played this at a company party and it was so much fun, it didn’t matter that you didn’t win the top prize. Just to hear the laughter and have fun with everyone in a loving spirit - that’s the main object of the game.

    Merry Christmas!

  37. 37


    December 14th, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you for having this site. We played this game at our family reunion last year and it was a lot of fun. I don’t remember the rules because my daughter in law introduced it last year and she is no longer living. (Cancer) I wanted to play it agin this year in her memory.

    Thank you.

  38. 38


    December 17th, 2010 at 7:08 am

    I love this game, my family and I play it every Christmas Eve. Our limit is 25 bucks, I sometimes try to make it a funny but useful gift. One year I put a picture of myself in a snow globe making a funny face and a gift card. Another year I put a dancing monkey and a bottle of Tequila. It’s a fun game and gets everyone in the spirit!

  39. 39


    December 17th, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    This game is about as much fun as musical chairs….. I agree that guests should be warned in advance, and rules explained before the game begins. Personally, I would rather draw names & select a small gift specifically for that person. Watching a bunch of “grown ups” fight over “gifts” is a little distasteful to me. To each his own!

  40. 40

    to bob

    December 17th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    Dear Bob (#23)
    It’s a GAME. I think you should call your game “The Grinch Game). Come on. Live a little. No need to call snobbish names.

    As far as the minors are concerned, we do not play with us. But they do a gift exchange game of their own. It is alot of fun for them. The rules for them. is about the same. But they have to get their gift from the dollar store. And they do not unwrap the gift until the second round. We have separated the ages a bit. Next year I am sure we will have to make a new division.

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a great YANKEE GIFT EXCHANGE!

  41. 41


    December 18th, 2010 at 12:40 am

    My family usually takes beer and Stetson.

  42. 42


    December 20th, 2010 at 5:50 am


    i usually gift empty box

  43. 43


    December 22nd, 2010 at 8:28 am

    We have made a tradition of playing this game with my husbands siblings on Christmas eve. We have a different them each year–last year was “Yard Art” this year it is “The Movies” The most traded gift of all one year was a lawn chair! Must have had a camping them that year. Glad for the name change–

  44. 44


    December 22nd, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I used to hate this game, because like some of the people above, I thought it was greedy and mean-spirited, so I never took someone else’s gift. However, a few years ago, I was sharing my discomfort about playing this game at work with one of my colleagues. She said that she always watches people when they open their gifts, and if someone seems really disappointed with their gift, and no one is stealing it, she takes theirs so they can pick again. This strategy has definitely made the game a lot more fun, and because people have different tastes, I usually get something useful or something I enjoy while also helping someone else get something they’d prefer. Of course, this technique is the MOST fun when your number is near the end, so the person can get pretty much whatever they want.

  45. 45


    December 22nd, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    So…. this is the first time I am introducing this game… at the beginning of the game… if number 2 take number 1’s gift… 1 gets to open another right away?… or has to wait until the end of the game? why did you say “at the end of the game 1 gets to select again.. if they already have a gift? we will have 15 players…if 15 chooses to open a gift… all gifts are gone…if 15 selects to grinch one… then the person he took it from either gets the choice of the last gift or to grinch one… and so on… right? the game will end when the last gift is chosen… right?

  46. 46


    December 23rd, 2010 at 1:39 am

    My family plays this every year on Christmas Eve as well - I’ve never seen the men in our family get so animated. We also played it at other functions - everyone loves it!!! It’s all for fun - the gifts are never expensive - some of the most “stolen” gifts included a wash mitt for the car! We always have a blast! It’s all about spending time with family and having fun. Merry Christmas everyone.

  47. 47


    December 23rd, 2010 at 6:37 am

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I’m not sure whether I’m being redundant, but I am sure the name sprung from the old “Chinese fire drill” thing that you do at a stop sign.

    We’re having a book exchange today with toddlers and I wonder if THEY can handle this game LOL

  48. 48


    December 23rd, 2010 at 7:49 am

    We are playing this game at a family Christmas Eve party amongst 19 of us! At the end of shopping for Christmas, it got difficult to afford to bring $10-$15 gifts for my husband and I and our 3 teen aged kids (@$50-$75) to the party. As I was handling the game this year, we decided to do $5 gift cards-all 19 different. It was fun for all of us to see where we could find $5 gift cards as many retailers have a minimum. We found McDonalds, BK, Loews, Kmart, ChickFilA, Bath &Body Works, Coldstone, Starbucks to name a few. Could not get $5 cards from Home Depot or Walgreens. We were able to find all 19 different ones. I’m hoping for the Starbucks…it’s just a little something…the game is about family and fun…not what you get. And at $5 a person its not that big of an expense and most cards are liked by all…(well maybe not the Bath and Body Works by the men! lol ) Also, my teenage daughter does not want the Loews card so there will be some expected trades! We’ll be passing the cards around to Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Clause Is Coming to Town in a hot potato fashion. Where ever gift card (all wrapped in brown paper) lands is your gift…we’re not completely following traditional rules..we’re only 3 drawing numbers (previously assigned) for allowed trades! Hopefully it’ll all go well! HAVE FUN!

  49. 49


    December 23rd, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Our family has played this game for many years. It has changed from different themes to now recycled gifts. It is a lot of fun and what makes it even more interesting is the gift that keeps coming back!

  50. 50


    December 24th, 2010 at 2:11 am

    @ leslie:

    Yes, #1 gets to open another gift right away.

    #1 has the option to “steal” any un-frozen gift at the end of the game due to the fact that they never had the opportunity to “steal” during the game.

    They then give their gift to the one they stole from, and at this point the game is officially over and the one-on-one swapping begins.

  51. 51


    December 24th, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    We have played this game of exchanging gifts for several years on both siders of our families and have had a great time of it. We tried drawing names a few years and it did not work well for us. We are doing it tonight and I am looking for any ideas to spice things up. We play like you explained except last year except we went around twice. It was fun but the time the last few people went all the popular gifts were frozen. Going again is simlar in results as the set adie is. Maybe we will let gifts go to 4th person rather than 3rd before it is frozen. Being stuck with a not so popular gift is not as fun as getting one you love, but it is the spirit of the game and being with my family that really maters. Last three years I got dud gifts, but I still had a blast playing. And watching others as they play… I try to encourage others to bring something they would like themselves incase the person who gets it doesn’t and they can offer to trade. Gift cards are always fought over as well as booze. You must be careful not to react to negatively as you can hurt feelings too. One year a family memeber who joined for the first time brought a potty putter. The person who received it laughed and we had fun but he was dissapointed to. So the next year it reappeared and he taped a gift card inside so the person still at least got a real gift. Every year now we know it is one of the gifts and we have gone to great lengths to disguise it. I even warapped one to be the same size just for the fun of it this year. The children all unwrap gifts on their own before we start the adult gift exchange. They are busy with their new things while we do our exchange. My husbands sister’s family has figured out how to trade amongs themselves to freeze what they want before long which takes the fun out it I think, but what ever. It was hilarious last year when we all did that and all the gifts were frozen except the potty putter. The last person did not even have a clue what everyone was doing so it was hilarious. We still laugh about it. Unfortunatley the person who brought it did not put a real gift in it, they just added more prank stuff to it. So we set that straight this year. It must have a real gift with it. And this year he got something he really loved alot. (The gift I had wraped to look like it, as he knew it was not it! :)

  52. 52


    September 27th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I was looking for some door prize gift ideas for a banquet I am hosting and I came across this website. We play this game every year at a friends Christmas party and keep the limit between $10-$15. We call it the hot potatoe gift exchange. I love it! I always come home with something I love or can use. Usually I put in something from the dollar store with a gift card behind it to fool people.

  53. 53

    Oh Great One

    November 16th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    I prefer the title Dirty Santa. It seems to fit well. I have heard it called either way. I have played this game with my inlaws. It is a lot of fun! Some other great gift ideas are bottle of wine (Old Bastard or Bitch gets a few laughs), pack of beer (always gets stolen), a marshmallow gun, actually money folded into animals or something cool. Have fun! Happy Holidays!

  54. 54

    Oh Great One

    November 16th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    *actual (real) money

  55. 55


    November 18th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    We love this! been doing for about 7 years. I try to come up with different ideas every year. One year I found a whole set of dishes separted into 5 piece place settings. The whole deal was at least 20.00 for a place setting for 10. I just wrapped only one set and after the game was over, I brought out the rest of the set and gave it to the winner. That was so much fun!!! it was a new set of dishes too..

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    December 4th, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    We play the Chinese Gift Exchange and anyone that would be offended won’t be invited anyway. Sorry Bob, you’ll just have to stay home and complain that the carolers are too noisy. ___ We always buy an extra gift (the host house) and then after playing and we get back to number 1’s turn again, he/she will either steal, keep his own or open the extra gift. (if he/she keeps, then #2 has the same option) When the last gift is opened, the opener then has two gifts in their hands. One of the gifts then have to go to the center of the room. Then we go around again and give everyone the option of keeping what they have or trading with what is in the center. (frozen gifts can be put into the center, but probably won’t be) This way if someone gets stuck with a lame gift, they can still get rid of it. When the game is over the house gets the gift in the center. Have fun people and remember, it’s Christmas , Hanukkah, or just a Holiday Season. Whatever you believe or want to call it, call it Festive.

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    December 5th, 2011 at 3:29 am

    I played this game today at a christmass party for the frist time and here is what I dont understand I had the last number besides number 1 and by the time I got to pick my gift over half of them wore frozen whats the pont of being “last” if you dont get your choice of all the gifts???

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    December 8th, 2011 at 8:22 am

    How would you be able to monitor if a gift has been
    “stolen” for the third or fourth time?

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    December 10th, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    This is a fun game! We used to play it at work many years ago (we were only 5 or 6 employees including the owners!) at our Christmas supper. We had a $20. limit per gift.
    We played it with a twist: we used dice…..and set the clock for about 10 or 15minutes. Then each person took a turn shooting the dice! If you got a 6, you could choose a wrapped gift….but you couldn’t unwrap it until the end of the game!! You could pass many a turn before you got a 6, just as someone could get a 6 twice in a row….and so would choose a second present!!!! If you get a 6 you can choose from the middle or you could steal from someone else! Since no one knows what’s in it…the game is more fun!! of course at the end, everyone ends up with one gift each…if not, the person holding two or more gifts must decide which gift he keeps and give away the other one!
    We always had fun with this one!! One year we decided to extend the playing time to 20 minutes!!
    At the end, each person(one at a time) unwraps their gift…..and everyone is happy!!!
    Merry Christmas to all!

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    December 11th, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Thanks for refreshing my memorie of this game. It was played with my family years ago and wanted to do it at a gathering we are having at work for our clients that are older folks that need assistance from time to time. I thought it would be fun for them and let them enjoy themselves as well as the workers. I like all the different ideas people have posted as well as some gift ideas. The one thing my family always did was a chia pet, no fail someone got stuck with it and they always had football teams that everyone hated. Some liked Notre Dame and some liked Penn State so big rivalry there, maybe not so much now, (big stink PS), but it was always fun and no one got mad. Enjoy everyone, Merry Christmas!!!

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    December 13th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    My family is growing larger every year so I decided this year we are going to do the Chinese Christmas or whatever you want to call it. My only worry is what to do about gifts for the little ones ages 2-9. Anybody have any ideas?

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    December 14th, 2011 at 3:11 am

    I agree that the Chinese reference is insulting and this game is in need of a new name. However, as a Southerner, I don’t know if the ‘Yankee’ name is any better - the most common use of that term that I hear is ‘Yankee go home!’ LOL

    To me, this game (and/or those like it) are best played with prizes from the Dollar General - not only does this remove the monetary value of the prizes (which solves the problem of people becoming mad or disappointed when gifts are taken) but it is also a lot more buget friendly to the person who is hosting the game… and NOTHING beats seeing Grandpaw fighting (and even ‘cheating’) to keep the cheap, knock-off Barbie doll.

    Dollar store prizes for this game –and the junky little toys and paper crowns in Christmas Crackers– bring a lot of fun and whimsy to our holiday gatherings.

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    December 19th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    We used to play a version of this at the office that I cannot quite recall. I remember you could bring either one $5 gift or three $1 gifts and you could also take more than one gift. Rolling of dice were involved. It was really fun, wish I could remember the exact rules.

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    January 3rd, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I’m so glad that I found this website. Before I retired, my office played this at every Christmas party and now my family plays it every Christmas Eve and I also play it at other parties throughout the year. We have been confused with what to do about the player #1 not having a chance to steal a gift. I’m printing out these rules for next year and also some of the comments. We may even use one of the optional names instead of Chinese Gift Exchange. This should end our confusion. Thank you so very much.

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    January 5th, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I agree with George. It’s meant to have fun with family and friends at such a special time of the year.

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    Mary Ann

    November 8th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    thanks for keeping the name Chinese Christmas in goggle or else I never would have found it. I save up all the useless gifts (at least to me) during the year and I organize and wrap everything myself. The last time we had the game, the most popular gift was a pasta set from Costco — everyone wanted it. It had the serving bowl and the individual pasta bowls in a really nice print. It finally landed up with a young man college student and everyone was envious.

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    Aimee C.

    December 3rd, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Our family has done this for years. The last few years we have put a new spin on it though. We call it “the As Seen On TV” gift exchange. You know, those silly items you see at the check out. The Sham WOW, The Aluma wallet, Perfect Pasta, The Snuggy! We have so much fun watching each other unwrap and steal each others gifts. Limit is $25.

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    December 4th, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I believe this game is called ‘Chinese Christmas’ because most of the cheap gifts you buy are made in China.

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    Julie Ashley

    December 7th, 2014 at 12:53 am

    WE have a large extended family and we have been playing this for years. We have one round where everyone can either choose a gift off the table or steal. We have everyone pick out a card from a deck to determine who goes first etc. Then we rehand out the cards and second time, to steal or keep. The third round requires something to be done for the privilege of stealing. Everything from pulling out a dare from a hat full of dares, to singing a solo to clucking like a chicken outside, to the person stolen from dresses up the stealer in costume wear and pictures are taken. I know it sounds like it gets out of hand and it does. Our kids’ friends don’t believe we haven’t been drinking heavily but we haven’t - its just outrageous. Everything from canadian tire money wrapped up to a book series entitles “tie me up, tie me down” - guaranteed lots of laughs.

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    S Shulund

    December 11th, 2014 at 9:09 am

    For the Love of our country, people, this PC stuff has got to stop! Since when did everybody become so sensitive? Your collective holier than thou and. I know what’s best for all of us is ruining our country. You don’t want to say Merry Christmas well don’t you don’t want to say Chinese kids gift exchange well don’t but don’t tell the rest of us what to say or do!

    I know you won’t print this and I don’t care but I assure you it would get a big response in my favor. Proud and patriotic Americans are
    sick of this PC stuff and it needs to stop!

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