The Christmas game where you steal gifts is a popular Christmas game where everyone scrambles to bring back the best gift.
White Elephant is a swap game in a very similar style to Yankee Swap, although the focus is on “stealing” gifts rather than swapping them. Usually, this type of gift exchange takes place during a party attended by other participants. Join Annabel Rosendahl to learn the rules of the game and how to play through this article.
Why Is It Called White Elephant?
Christmas game where you steal gifts from the term white elephant as defined by something of dubious or limited value or an object no longer of value to its owner but of value to others. Thus, in its basic form, the game calls for people to bring “gag” gifts or gifts they received that they have no use for.
In a White Elephant gift exchange, each participant brings a wrapped, unmarked gift and places it in a designated area. Guests are given numbers as they arrive, or their names are randomly drawn, and they select gifts in that order — with a twist.
How Do You Play The Christmas Gift Stealing Game?
1. Each player brings one wrapped gift to contribute to a common pool
Each participant supplies one wrapped gift, usually of similar value. The gifts are placed in a central location, and participants determine in which order (often by numbers randomly drawn prior to the start of the game) they will take turns selecting a gift.
2. Players draw numbers to determine what order they will go in
The first person opens a wrapped gift, and the turn ends. On subsequent turns, each person has the choice to either unwrap a new present or steal another’s. When a person’s gift is stolen, that person can either choose another wrapped gift to open or can steal from another player. Alternatively, someone can draw names from a hat, or the order can be set by the organizer prior to the event.
3. Players sit in a circle or line where they can see the gift pile
To make things easier, everyone should sit in the order in which they will take their turns.
4. The first player selects a gift from the pool and opens it
Make sure everyone can see the gift!
5. The following players can choose an unpacked gift from the previous player’s profile or gift food. Anyone who is evaluating a gift this way can do the same – choose a new gift or steal it from someone else.
To keep for all second process, have some limits in the gift exchange:
Gifts can be marked once per turn, which means that the player rated as a gift must wait to get it back.
After three transitions, the turn automatically ends (otherwise, everything can drag on for a long time).
See “Possible Variables” below for other possible variables.
6. After all players have had their turn, the first player has a chance to exchange the gift they hold for any other opened gifts. Anyone managed can start from someone else (as long as that person doesn’t eat). When someone from lost steals a gift, the game will be over.
Note that for this last “addition,” the rule of triplets does not apply to swaps. The player can keep changing when someone decides to get up or there is no other qualified person to steal.
While the above rules closely resemble the “vanilla” version of the game you can get, there’s really no right or wrong way to play. Over the years, many new ideas have been introduced into the gift swap game, with the aim of keeping the game moving and/or making it more strategic. Here are some rule tweaks that many people use:
- Three Swaps and You’re Out. If you have the word stolen three times during the game, you are out of the game and cannot be stolen from there anymore.
- Three swaps and giveaways are gone. If a gift is stolen three times, it will be removed from the game and the person holding it will walk away.
- No Extra Turns / No Extra Swaps. Some people don’t allow the first player to swap at the end. Or, if so, the first one is only swapped once with no additional swaps allowed.
- Poetry/Story. Instead of following the same rules every turn, players follow instructions given through a Christmas-themed poem or story. A type of White Elephant story that requires the player to shift their gift left or right until the end when they can keep whatever item they’re holding.
- Gift Theme. Organizers can ask people to bring gifts that match a certain theme. The most common is a gift back (i.e. an unwanted item that people leave around the house). However, the theme can be anything – decorations, books on the coffee table, candy, homemade crafts, and more.
What Makes The Best Christmas Game Where You Steal Gifts
There are lots of different approaches to buying a White Elephant Gift. As long as you’re following the price suggestion (typically around $20) and any “special” instructions by the organizer, you can’t really go wrong. That said, here are some characteristics to look for when looking for a gift to bring to your White Elephant Gift Exchange party:
- Funny: Funny gifts make the biggest splash at the party, but aren’t always the most desirable items for swapping.
- Weird: Weird artwork and gadgets are also popular at Christmas gift swaps, and are often highly sought after.
- Nice: There’s nothing wrong with buying a genuinely nice gift, especially since it has the potential to fuel a lot of competition during the game.
In short, the Christmas Game where you steal gifts is the place for all sorts of different items in the gift exchange. But if there’s one quality all gifts must have, it’s that they have to be interesting. A Christmas holiday is coming, we hope you will enjoy and join this game with your family and loved ones.