40 Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas and Games

Christmas gifts… what would a Christmas party be without a Christmas gift exchange game! Swapping, grabbing, unwrapping, and pleading for someone to take it…

These Christmas gift exchange ideas are funny, sweet, and maybe a little sentimental. Something for every taste.

You’ll find here exciting ideas for Christmas gift exchange

  • themes (24) and
  • games (20).

If you are here just for the games, jump to the Christmas Gift Exchange Games.

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Do the Christmas gift exchange the fun way! Gift theme ideas and games! A red Christmas gift with a red and gold ribbon.

Let’s start with themes!

24 Christmas Gift Exchange Themes

It’s the Christmas party time of the year! It can be fun, it can be stressful… and it can get costly.

Having a theme for the gift exchange makes shopping easier and so much more fun.

And you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money; many or perhaps all of these are Christmas gift exchange ideas on a budget.

1. Color

This could be anything for home or car, clothing, book, candy, or anything!

2. Season

Pick a season, get ready to shop, and to receive all kinds of cool things, from beach bags to umbrellas.

3. State

A great way to learn something about the state you choose.

Perhaps the gift is simply a t-shirt, or it could be something odd like a state bird, hopefully, a decorative and not a real one…

4. Country

Made in the USA is a popular version of this. It does not have to be made in the country you choose, but something that reminds you of it, like a gift with all the flag colors.

5. Room

Pick a room, and get room-themed gifts.


  • kitchen towels
  • serving platters
  • napkins
  • spatulas
  • bowls
  • tea strainer
  • tray

Living Room

  • pillow
  • throw blanket
  • box for remote controls
  • succulent
  • picture frame
  • coasters

6. Game

Board games, card games… it will be fun! After unwrapping the games, go ahead and use them right there at the Christmas party.

7. Book

Everyone will enjoy some kind of book. There are so many options to choose from; here are a few:

  • cookbook
  • jokes and riddles
  • comics
  • mystery
  • romance
  • craft
  • devotional
  • biography
  • history
  • songs
  • fantasy

8. Candle

Scented or not scented, either way, candles create the coziest atmosphere in any room.

9. Mug

Can we really have too many mugs?

10. Clothing

Buy any clothing or pick one type, like scarves, gloves, hats, socks, or t-shirts.

11. DIY

If you are a family who loves DIY projects, this is the one to go with. Everyone gets to prepare a DIY gift.

12. Re-gift

We all have received items that we never use. Pass on the gift to someone who would love it.

13. Gift Cards

How about a gift card exchange! Get creative with the wrapping, though, to make it more fun.

14. Activity

Give a gift of doing an activity together with the gift receiver. It could be something simple like going to movies, hiking, picnicking, or something extravagant like a cruise.

15. The Initials

Everyone writes their initials on paper. For example, Ally Smith would write AS. Whoever buys a gift for her would look for an item with those letters like bASket or SoAp.

16. ABC

Pick a letter, and everyone buys gifts that start with that letter.

17. The Decade

Pick a decade, and everyone buys gifts related to that decade.

18. The Birth Year

This is especially fun for adults. Buy a gift that has something to do with the birth year of the gift receiver, like a movie that came out that year.

19. Stuffed Animal

A cute idea for kids.

20. Musical Instrument

Yeah, you need some music at your Christmas party. This can get quite crazy, but it will be a hoot.

  • tambourine
  • maracas
  • harmonica

or musical instrument inspired things such as

21. The Greatest Memory

Give a gift that has a ton of sentimental value. Something that reminds you of the gift receiver, maybe a vacation you have taken together.

22. Organization

After the Holidays, all the house cleaning and organization begins.

Everyone needs some kind of storage thing. It could be for the desk, closet, cupboard, counters, or storing magazines and books.

23. Fitness

Yep, the other thing that is super popular after the Holidays. Any kind of fitness item, from jump ropes and hand weights to yoga mats, would be fun.

24. Outdoors

Anything you can use outdoors: sled, beach ball, buckets and, gardening stuff.

2o Christmas Gift Exchange Games

Let's have fun! Christmas Gift Exchange Games. A child wearing a Santa hat holding a present. A group of people with gifts.

1. Draw a Name

This popular way to do a gift exchange can sound boring but it does not need to be so.

You can make it fun. I’ll give you some awesome ideas.

Plan The Name Drawing Event

Some things to think about when planning the occasion.

  • Organize the name drawing: many families do this on Thanksgiving; if you all aren’t together, you could also do a virtual name drawing or simply choose a couple of people to do the drawing and inform everyone of the results. There is also a fun online app called drawnames.com that can be used for this.
  • Group the people. Do this if you want the guys to buy gifts for each other, the kids for each other, and so on. You could group the people in various ways: gender, age, family, and location.
  • Decide the spending limit (minimum and maximum) to something everyone can afford.
  • Secret or Not: Do you want the gift receiver to know who the gift is from?
  • Shop with a wish list? Either way is fun. Wish lists make it easier and could simply just state favorite colors, hobbies, etc.
  • Pick a fun name drawing game.

Fill Out Secret Santa Wish Lists

Christmas gift exchange wish list printable. 3 styles, 4 different wish lists in each.

Christmas gift exchange wish lists make shopping easy! Pick a style that you like the best: gift sack, sleigh, or Christmas tree.

Then choose which wish list you want to use.

Take a closer look at the Gift Exchange Wish Lists and pick the one you like the best! These are free.

Play a Name Drawing Game (4 fun ideas)

You can always do the bowl or paper bag way. Nothing wrong with that, but to add a little bit of excitement and fun to the drawing, do one of these activities:

Option 1: Scavenger Hunt

Attach the names to candy canes and hide them in the game area. Everyone scatters to look for the candy canes and will get a name AND a sweet treat.

Option 2: Gift Tree

Attach name tags or write names on ornaments and hang them on the Christmas tree.

You could also use clear ball ornaments and put a rolled-up paper with the name and the wish list inside.

This could get quite crazy, with everyone running to the tree to grab an ornament.

Option 3: Names Under the Chairs

Tape the names and wish lists under the chairs. Doesn’t have to be the dining room; it could be couches, armchairs, etc.

At some point, ask everyone to look under their seat and grab the paper with a name.

Option 4: Put a Sticker on It

Write names or glue pictures of family members on a large piece of paper.

Take turns blindfolded to choose a name by placing a sticker on the “game board.”

Use the closest name to the sticker if it doesn’t land exactly on a name.

2. Christmas Gift Exchange Chaos

This can be chaotic depending also on how fast-paced you make it.

All you need is Christmas Gift Exchange Chaos cards. Put the cards in a bowl or paper sack and take turns picking one and doing what it says.

80 Christmas Gift Exchange Cards. For example: exchange gifts with someone whose name has the letter J, O, or Y.

80 Christmas Gift Exchange Game Cards

NEW design and more cards!

Take it slow or create chaos. It’s up to you.

Whatever way you choose to play, it will be a blast!

View the Christmas Exchange Game Cards in our store at ShopRelaxedHostess.com

Digital pdf file. Nothing will be shipped. Currently, only available to customers in the USA.

3. Holiday Cheer Game

Christmas Cheer, printable. Stand and trade places when a statement applies to you.

How to play: 

The gifts stay in place in this game, and the players move. It can get quite chaotic, especially if the gifts are unwrapped!

  • Sit in a circle.
  • Place a gift in front of everybody. (It can be wrapped or unwrapped, your choice.)
  • Read the statements one at a time.
  • Players stand up if the information applies to them.
  • Those standing up switch places with each other and sit down in the new spot.
  • Once you have read all the statements, everyone opens the gift in front of them.

Take look at the Christmas Cheer Gift Exchange Game at our store.

Digital pdf file. Nothing will be shipped. Currently, only available to customers in the USA.

4. Left or Right Game

A simple left or right game where you read a story with the words “left” and “right” scattered throughout.

Every time one of those words is read, the players pass the gifts in that direction.

5. Cobweb Gift Exchange

Kids will love this game!

  • Tie yarn around each gift.
  • Unwind the yarn going over and under the furniture.
  • When it’s time to play the gift exchange, everyone grabs an end of yarn and starts rolling it into a ball until they reach the gift.

6. Hot Potato Gift Exchange

An easy gift exchange game anyone can play.

You’ll need a timer or some music.

  • Sit in a circle and pass one or two presents at a time around the circle. (Or do all the gifts at the same time.)
  • When a timer goes off or the music stops, the ones holding gifts keep them.
  • You can open the gifts right away or wait until everyone gets theirs.

7. Treasure Hunt

Hide the gifts in the game area. You might want to write down the hiding places… some of us can’t always remember where we hide things.

The players look for the gifts.

When they find one, they can take it or keep looking.
If they don’t want to keep it, they should be quiet about it so someone else can have the joy of finding it.

8. Guess the Guest

This is a great game for a large group.

Guess the Guest Game, printable pdf. A who am I card with a space to write "a fact about me". Evergreen wreath with mistletoe. A rustic star hanging in the middle. Three cards on one page.

Guess the Guest Christmas gift exchange game.

Not as easy as you might think!

This is a great ice breaker or get-to-know-each-other game for a Christmas party where the guests don’t know each other well.

  • As the guests arrive, ask them to write on a “Who Am I” card something about themselves. It could be serious or silly.
  • Put the cards in a basket, Santa hat, or a paper bag.
  • Read one card at a time.
  • The guests try to guess who wrote the statement.
  • Whoever guesses correctly first gets to pick a present and unwrap it. That person is out of the game.

Variation: Add the excitement of snatching someone’s present. The players can grab an unwrapped gift from someone. In that case, the person without a gift is back in the game.

View the Guess the Guest Christmas Gift Exchange Game in our store at ShopRelaxedHostess.com

Digital pdf file. Nothing will be shipped. Currently, only available to customers in the USA.

9. Roll the Dice Gift Exchange

For this Christmas gift exchange with dice, you’ll need the Roll the Dice game sheet and dice.

It’s easy.

Roll the dice and do what it says on the game sheet.

Roll The Dice Christmas Gift Exchange Game. A gnome in a red pickup truck.

Roll The Dice Game Printable

You’ll have lots of fun with the Roll the Dice game! It’s a perfect Christmas gift exchange game for the office or home.

Take a look at the lovely and inexpensive Roll the Dice Christmas Gift Exchange Game. (Comes in two sizes.)

Digital, pdf file. Nothing will be shipped to you. Sold via our store ShopRelaxedHostess.com. Currently available only to customers in the USA.

10. Spin the Candy Cane

This is a fun Christmas gift exchange game for a small group.

  • Sit in a circle and spin a candy cane.
  • Whoever it points to gets to pick a gift and open it. (Or he can grab someone else’s present.)
  • Once the player opens a gift, he should get out of the circle. If someone takes his gift, he gets back in the game.

11. Holiday Trivia

  • Ask Holiday trivia questions.
  • The player who knows the answer first (shouts, raises a hand, or jingles a bell) gets to pick and unwrap a gift.
  • After that, each player can choose a new gift or take an unwrapped gift from someone else.

12. Find the Punch Line

The more people you have, the more fun this game is, so; it is the perfect Christmas exchange game for large families.

  • Write jokes or riddles on note cards.
  • Write the punchline or the answer on separate paper and attach those to the gifts.
  • A player picks a joke card, reads it out loud, and finds the punchline card.
  • He keeps the gift the punchline is attached to.

13. Guess The Gift Giver or Do a Dare

Before playing the game, prepare some “dare” cards, like reading a Christmas poem or running around the room while balancing an ornament on your head.

  • Give everyone a gift and an index card.
  • The players open the gifts and guess who the gift they are holding is from. They write their answers on index cards.
  • Take turns presenting the guesses.
  • If the player guesses wrong, he has to pick a “dare” card from Santa’s hat.

14. Do You Know This Christmas Carol?

  • Play a short clip of a Christmas carol
  • Whoever guesses the song’s name first gets to choose a gift from the gift pile and open it.

As a variation: play a short section of a Christmas song and ask the guests what word comes next.

15. What’s the Name of the Christmas Movie

Play like the Christmas carol game, except that in this game, you play a short clip of a Christmas movie and ask the guests to name the film.

You could also read quotes from Christmas movies. The one who guesses the name of the film the section is from gets to pick a gift.

16. Christmas Lane

If you are looking for a Christmas gift exchange game for large families, then this is the one.

Christmas Lane. Christmas gift exchange game for large families. Pdf file. 4 watercolor illustrated pages (gnome with green hat, gnome with red hat, stocking, wrapped present), 40 number cards.

Turn on some Christmas music and walk around Christmas Lane.

The Christmas Lane game is like a cakewalk game, except you keep playing until everyone gets a gift.

It’s easy to set up and easy to play. 


  • Print the beautifully illustrated Christmas Lane pages (preferably on cardstock), and write numbers on them based on how many players you have.
  • You may want to laminate the pages or cover all the edges with tape.
  • Form a circle with the Christmas Lane pages. They don’t have to be touching. It’s better if they are spaced out.
  • Print and cut out the number cards. You only need the numbers that equal the number of Christmas Lane pages you have.
  • Put the cards in a Santa hat or a paper bag.

How to Play:

  1. Turn on some Christmas music. While the music plays, the players walk around Christmas Lane, either stepping on the papers or walking by them, your choice.
  2. When the music stops, everyone stops next to a Christmas Lane page.
  3. Draw a number; whoever is next or closest to that number on the lane gets to pick a gift and open it.

Like many other games, you can play this so the players can choose a new gift or steal someone else’s.

Buy the beautifully illustrated Christmas Lane Gift Exchange Game and go for a walk to collect a gift.

Digital, pdf file. Nothing will be shipped to you. Sold via our store ShopRelaxedHostess.com. Currently available only to customers in the USA.

17. Deck the Halls

For this game, you need two decks of cards and a big pile of presents. Maybe two or three for each player.

  • Pass out the cards to the players.
  • Use the other deck to draw a card and call it, for example, three of hearts.
  • Whoever is holding that card chooses a gift from the pile.
  • Once all the gifts are gone from the pile, the players start taking gifts from other players.
  • Keep going until you have called all the cards.

18. Pictionary or Charades

Play a fun game of Christmas Pictionary or Charades. Whoever wins the round gets to choose a present.

If you want to, you can add the gift-stealing option too.

19. Knock ‘Em Down

This is something new and different, I think…

Bowling version:

Play a few rounds of bowling, and the one with the highest score gets to pick a gift first.

Nerf gun version:

Stack up paper cups and write points on the cups. Everyone gets a set amount of shots. Whoever has the highest score gets to choose a present first.

Make it even more interesting:

  • Number the gifts and the bowling pins or the nerf gun targets.
  • Space the targets far apart, so each player is more likely to knock down only one of the targets.
  • If the gifts are already unwrapped, this can be even more fun with guests trying to knock down a specific number and perhaps avoiding certain ones.

20. Gift Auction

How to do a gift exchange auction. A girl elf standing next to a stack of Christmas gifts.

Gift exchange auctions are so much fun.

Find out how to do a Christmas gift exchange auction, and grab the free printable, as well.

21. Whose Gift Is It?

In this game, everyone goes home with a gift they actually like.

The fun part is in guessing whose gift it is.

In this game, everyone gets a gift they actually want.


  • The guests buy and wrap a gift they want to get.
  • As the host, buy an additional gift like a gift card or ask everyone to pitch in a dollar for the game prize.


  • As the guests arrive, put the gifts in Santa’s sack.


Version 1.

  • Open the gifts one at a time. Players write down who they think bought that gift.
  • Once all the gifts are opened, reveal the gift buyers.
  • Whoever got the most correct wins the prize. If it is a tie, play rock, paper, scissors.
  • Everyone goes home with the gift they bought. And the lucky winner gets a prize!

Version 2.

  • Place the gifts on a table. (Number the presents.)
  • The players write down their “whose gift it is” guess based on the wrapping.
  • Open the gifts all at once or one at a time. Players write down another guess.
  • Once all the gifts are opened, reveal the gift buyers.
  • 3 points for guessing correctly based on the wrapping
  • 1 point for guessing correctly after the gift was unwrapped.
  • Whoever has the highest score wins the prize. If it is a tie, play rock, paper, scissors.
  • Everyone goes home with the gift they bought. And the lucky winner gets a prize!
Whose gift is it? Christmas gift exchange game for adults. Number cards, Whose gift is it guessing list. Graphics: ice blue wrapped present, evergreen branches.

Whose Gift Is It?

  • two game sheets (up to 10 or 25 players)
  • instructions

This Whose Gift Is It? Christmas exchange game is excellent for adults. Play it at home or at work. 

Digital, pdf file. Nothing will be shipped to you. Sold via our store ShopRelaxedHostess.com. Currently available only to customers in the USA.

Christmas Gift Exchange Themes and Games Summary

  • Make the Secret Santa event fun with a theme. It can be anything from a book, color, or mug to the greatest memory.
  • Fill out the wish lists and match the givers and receivers.
  • Or play one of the many white elephant gift exchange games, such as Deck the Halls, Christmas Lane, Roll the Dice, Guess the Guest, or Find the Punch Line.

Lots of different gift exchange games to choose from! Which one will you pick?

Make This Holiday Season Joyful

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