Christmas Gift Exchange Game - The Chinese Christmas
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.
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.
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.
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!