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Top 8 Creative Gift Exchange Game Ideas

Gift giving is a powerful tool that brings family and friends together creating wonderful memories for everyone. Believe it or not, the nostalgia and joy you feel when sharing these memories will play a part in your mental health in your later years. In fact, scientists have studied reminiscing therapy and it can relieve depressive symptoms in older adults. Unfortunately, as we age our memory won’t be as sharp as it once was, but you can use gift exchange games to help create more memorable moments. Here are 8 gift exchange ideas to make special occasions more unforgettable!

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White Elephant Gift Exchange

White Elephant is a popular choice for anyone with a competitive spirit.

How to Play:

  1. Draw numbers to determine the gift selection order.

  2. The first person will pick a gift and unwrap it.

  3. The following person can either do the same or elect to steal the gift from someone who has already opened theirs.

  4. Any victim who had their gift stolen must relinquish the gift. However, the same gift can only be stolen twice. The gift must remain with the participant if it has been stolen twice.

  5. The process repeats itself until everyone has a gift.

Musical Gift Exchange

Music Gift Exchange is like musical chairs, except it’s the gift that moves around.

How to Play:

  1. One volunteer must operate the music and be ready to pause it continually.

  2. All participants must get in a circle with one of them carrying a gift.

  3. The gift in the circle gets passed around only while music is playing.

  4. When the music stops, the last person holding the gift must finish the lyric of the song. They get to keep the gift if they're successful!

Which One's Mine?

This game is more suitable for any gifts that are for a designated person.

How to Play:

  1. Privately think of something you value about whom you're gifting.

  2. Craft, draw, or write anything on a piece of paper that symbolizes that value and secure it to the gift.

  3. Have everyone take turns trying to guess which gift is theirs based on the applied symbolism. It’s the next person’s turn if they guess wrong.

The game ends when everyone finds their gifts. Feel free to give hints!

Exploding Kittens!

It's like UNO, it’s kids friendly, and we promise no cats are harmed!

How to Play:

Play this card game collectively with up to 5 players to determine the gift selection order. Write down the order of each player who got the exploding cat. The winner of the card game gets to pick and open their gift first. Whoever won second goes next, following place, and so forth. Repeat the process until all the gifts are taken.


Pakkeleg is a traditional Danish gift exchange game based on chance through a game of dice. Forewarning, someone can end up with more gifts than others and some with none.

How to Play:

  1. Set all the gifts into one pile.

  2. Round 1 – Everyone takes turns rolling the dice and if you roll a 6 you get to take a gift. Round 2 starts once all the gifts are taken.

  3. Round 2 – Start the clock for one minute and take turns rolling the dice. Whoever rolls a 6 can steal a gift.

The Rotating Gift Exchange

The rotating gift exchange is great for a larger number of participants.

How to Play:

  1. A volunteer must have a container to hold all the gifts and place 2 to 3 wrapped gifts inside to start.

  2. In addition, each participant must bring a wrapped gift and keeps it with them.

  3. The volunteer will circulate to each participant one at a time. The first participant will unwrap all the gifts within the container then choose one. They’ll then place their own wrapped gift into the container and keep the one they chose.

  4. The volunteer will continue to the second person and repeat the process.

The following person will always have to choose between an unwrapped gift and a wrapped one.

Treasure Hunt Gift Exchange

Plain and simple, but a thriller!

How to Play:

  1. A volunteer who is not participating must hide the gifts around the house.

  2. All participants must search the house for one gift.

Feel free to turn off the lights to make it more challenging and remember first come, first serve!

Never Have I Ever

Almost everyone is familiar with this game even if they have not played it. Get ready!

How to Play:

  1. Set all the gifts in one pile.

  2. All participants stand in a circle around the pile and grab a random gift. Set the gift on the ground by their feet.

  3. The first person grabs a “Never Have I ever” card and reads it out loud.

  4. Anyone who has done what the card says must switch places with anyone at least two spots away (including the person who read). Make sure to leave the gift on the floor.

  5. The person who just read the card unwraps the gift in front of them and leaves it there. They will then pass the deck of cards to the person on their right and the process repeats.

If the person to your right has already read the card, then pass it to the following person on the right. This ensures everyone reads a card.

The game is over once all the gifts are open and whichever gift is at your feet is yours!

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