Christmas Gift Exchange Games

With so many fun Christmas Gift Exchange Games out there it’s easy to get confused. What’s the difference anyway? If you’re invited to a White Elephant Gift Exchange what kind of gift do you take? What in the world is a Hippie Hand Off? Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular gift exchange games.

Christmas Gift Exchange Games

White Elephant

White Elephant Rules and Printables

White elephant is defined as a possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of. Supposedly, the King of Siam gifted rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, that they might be ruined by the animals’ upkeep costs. The term white elephant refers to a gift whose maintenance costs exceed its usefulness.

In the case of a White Elephant Gift Exchange, gifts are typically humorous ‘gag’ gifts or gifts the recipient no longer has a use for. Take a look at these White Elephant Gift Exchange Ideas.

It is played by placing the gifts in the center of the circle. Each player draws a number. Number one chooses a gift first. Number two can either steal number one’s gift or choose a new one. No one gift can be stolen more than three times before it is frozen. Number one gets to trade with any gift that hasn’t been frozen.

Dirty Santa

Dirty Santa

Although it’s name might suggest otherwise, Dirty Santa is a family friendly game! It is called dirty because game participants steal gifts from each other. The goal is to end up with the best gift (to you at least).

Gifts for Dirty Santa are typically something fun, new, unique, and in good taste. Check out these $10 Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Ideas.

Dirty Santa is played the same way as White Elephant. The difference is in the type of gifts. For complete rules visit Dirty Santa Gift Exchange.

Yankee Swap

I’ve recently learned about the Yankee Swap and have found various rules on the game.

Yankee Swap gifts are usually a mix of silly and nice. It appears to be a crossover of White Elephant and Dirty Santa. It’s best to consider your audience when choosing a Yankee Swap gift.

Yankee Swap is generally played much like White Elephant or Dirty Santa although with a twist. Here’s one variation: Player number one chooses a gift, unwraps, and puts it on display in front of them. Player number two chooses a gift, unwraps it and can choose to keep it or swap it with player number one. Player number three unwraps a gift and chooses to keep or swap. At the end of the game, participants are encouraged to swap their gifts as much as they choose.

Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a fun game for co-workers, friends, and extended family. Each person draws a name and purchases a gift for that person.

A dollar amount is typically placed on Secret Santa gifts. It is also best to do a little investigative work to find out what the recipient would really like since this is their chance at a great gift. Sounds like a lot of pressure to find the perfect gift? Maybe so!

Once the gift is open, the recipient guesses who their Secret Santa is and, eventually, their Secret Santa fesses up!

Hippie Hand Off

With the popularity of homemade household items comes the Hippie Hand Off Gift Exchange.

From essential oils to homemade laundry detergent, hand soap to deodorant, the possibilities are endless for the Hippie Hand Off! Come up with your best hippie gift and let the fun begin!

The Hippie Hand Off is played just like White Elephant and Dirty Santa. The difference is in the gift. Here’s to hoping everyone ends up with something new to try and expanded hippie ways! This game would be great fun any time of year!



So many choices! So many ways to have fun with Christmas Gift Exchange Games!

What’s your favorite Christmas Gift Exchange Game?


With so many Christmas Gift Exchange Games out there it's easy to get confused. What's the difference anyway?! White Elephant, Dirty Santa, Secret Santa ...
6 comments… add one
  • Mrs. Frugalwoods Dec 21, 2014, 8:14 am

    Fun! We always called it “white elephant” growing up and now my husband and I use that term too. It’s interesting that they’re so many different names!

    • How Do The Jones Do It Dec 21, 2014, 9:31 pm

      This list of gift exchange games doesn’t even come close to covering them all. It is quite amazing how many different variations there are. Merry Christmas to you Mrs. Frugalwoods!

  • kay ~ Dec 21, 2014, 8:47 am

    I think I’ll have to save that Hippie Hand Off idea for if I ever do the vandwelling thing! Fun, as usual, Jayleen! 🙂

    • How Do The Jones Do It Dec 21, 2014, 9:32 pm

      My curiosity is up Kay … what is vandwelling … ooooh! Never mind, just got it:0) Lol! There are so many variations out there, I wanted to start my own;0)

  • Michelle Dec 22, 2014, 10:31 am

    Love all of these ideas! This year we are doing a gift basket theme exchange with Wes’s family. The gift receiver chose the theme and we get to fill the baskets up with things that fit the theme.

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