The White Elephant Gift Exchange, also known as the Yankee Swap, is the perfect party game for holiday get-togethers, family reunions, cousin camps, and other social events! It combines classic gift exchange rules with friendly competition. It’s both rewarding and entertaining!
The White Elephant Gift Game:
Before hosting a white elephant gift exchange, make sure that you have a list of all participants and that all participants know they are participating. In order to take part in the game, each participant must bring a wrapped gift item. Prior to the exchange, participants should agree on a minimum and maximum price. This ensures that each person receives a gift of relatively equal value!
To play the game, round up all participants and randomly assign “turns” to each person. The easiest way to do this is to write down corresponding numbers to participants. If you have 10 participants, write the numbers 1-10 on individual pieces of paper, fold them up, and put them in a hat.
Once everyone has drawn a number, the person with number 1 will choose a gift and open it. Person 2 can then either choose to steal person 1’s gift or choose a new gift. Person 3 can then choose a gift or steal a gift. This continues until the last person chooses or steals a gift. The game is over after the last person goes.
White Elephant Gift Exchange Variations
There are variations that you can use to customize your game.
- They party organizer may decide to provide wrapped gifts instead of having guests bring them. Or may ask guests to make their gift rather than buy it.
- Instead of taking runs around the circle, you can multiply the number of players by 3, write the numbers on slips of paper and allow everyone to choose 3 numbers. The one running the game will randomly call out a number and cross it off the chart, and the person with that number gets to choose to take a gift already opened or choose one from the middle. If there are not more in the middle he/she may take one from someone with more than one gift. Anyone w/out at gift at the end can take one from someone with more than one.
- You can apply a rule that states that one gift can only be stolen twice.
- You can also allow the first person to take the very last turn since he/she was the only one who didn’t get to see any unwrapped gifts prior to choosing.
- You can also apply a theme to the gifts, depending on the type of event you’re hosting. This Fourth of July, try a patriotic themed gift exchange!
Whichever way you wish to play the game, it’s sure to be a party hit!
If you know a different variation, please share in the comments below.