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Super Fun Christmas Gift Exchange Game with Free Printable Cards

For your next festive gathering, add this easy Christmas gift exchange game! It’s a super fun Holiday party activity with printable cards and instructions.

Santa Swap Christmas Gift Exchange Game

For the holidays, I’m hosting my local extended family at my house comprising of my sisters, mom, and nieces and nephews, and we all agreed we did not want to break the bank buying gifts for all of the cousins, so we opted for a family Christmas gift exchange, using candy as our themed gift.

We are certain the kids will love it, and it won’t cost each of us an arm and a leg, cause let’s be honest…the dollar store has some pretty darn good Christmas candy!

As I was researching ideas for Christmas gift exchange games, I found lots of fun ideas on Pinterest that you can see on my “Christmas Holiday Gift Exchange” board.

But after looking through all the creative ideas, there were a few criteria that made me eliminate many of the games.

A. We cannot have a game where the gift is stolen. We have younger kids in our family who I think that concept might make them cry. No bueno!

B. It has to be a game where all the gifts are wrapped. An exchange game with an unwrapped gift just isn’t as fun and we need to keep all the kids entertained and busy!

C. It can’t be a gift exchange where there is a “right-left game”.

Again having younger family members, several of them do not know the difference between their right and their left, so if we said to pass the gift left, who knows where it might end up…in essence, it just would be too complicated and possibly frustrating.

So after considering several clever ideas, I settled on a Santa Swap style of exchanging gifts.

How You Prep the Santa Swap Christmas Gift Exchange Game:

  1. Download the free pdf of printable game cards, bag signs, and instructions.
Santa Swap Game Printables
Click on the image for a free printable download

2. Print the game pieces in color on white cardstock. Here is a sampling of the directions on the cards:

  • Swap gifts with someone taller than you
  • Swap gifts with someone who is wearing red
  • Swap gifts with someone across from you
  • Swap gifts with someone born in the winter

I also added to some extra blank cards so you can write in your own personalized categories or funny “adult” ones if you are hosting an adult gift exchange.

Santa Swap Game Cards and Instructions

3. Cut out the gift exchange game cards on the dotted line.

Santa Swap Game with bag and scissors

4. Place the game cards in a gift bag. You can leave it plain or add the printable “The Santa Swap Game” signs by taping them to the outside of a small bag.

Santa Swap Game with printable cards, bag scissors and tape

5. Lastly, be sure you buy the appropriate number of gifts for your gift exchange and be sure to wrap all the gifts.

Santa Swap Game Bag and Cards

*Pro Tip #1* – I would recommend buying a few extra gifts in case anyone forgets and arrives empty-handed without a wrapped gift!

*Pro Tip #2* – Play festive music while you play the game, a nice holiday song in the background will help everyone get in the Holiday spirit! When you play Christmas music it just immediately feels more like a party so be sure to play your favorite Christmas songtrack!

How You Play The Santa Swap Christmas Gift Game:

  1. When guests arrive at the party with their gifts, have them place their wrapped gift in one location or gift pile, depending on how formal your gathering or Christmas Party is.

  2. For the game exchange to begin, each person selects a gift. You can have the youngest go first, or the oldest, or let everyone choose a random gift in no particular order. You are the host, so you get to decide!

  3. It would work best if the participants sit in a circle or a horseshoe shape.

  4. Next one person grabs a card from the bag and follows the directions. Again you can have the youngest go first, or the oldest, or whomever you randomly choose.

  5. Once that person does their swap, continue around the group clockwise and have the next person select a card from the bag and follow the directions of who to swap gifts with.

  6. Continue the game in that same clockwise direction until either all of the cards are gone or everyone has selected a card.

    If it’s a larger group you will probably want to just go around the group once. If it’s a smaller group you will most likely want to play a few times around to prolong the game.

  7. Once this exciting game has come to a conclusion, half the fun is still yet to come! One by one go around the arc/circle and have each person reveal what is in their wrapped gift!

It’s such fun for the gift giver to see the reaction of the receiver and everyone enjoys seeing other people’s gifts.

*Pro Tip #3* – You can use this same game for any type of holiday gift exchange party…white elephant gift exchange, gift card exchange, secret Santa, ornament exchange, or any gift themes.

It can also be used for any setting…we used it with young kids as a family party activity, but you could use this festive holiday gift exchange game for an office Christmas party or a classroom gift exchange at school.

*Pro Tip #4* – If you are hosting a gift exchange with little kids with lower-budget items like candy, a book, an ornament, etc, it’s always wise to have a few “backup options” in case they totally hate what they receive.

Invest a few extra dollars to have something they can swap out. No one wants tears and disappointment for the holiday season!

So what do you think? What is your favorite type of Christmas gift exchange?

I hope you have so much fun no matter how you celebrate the holidays!

Until next time, cheers to having a holly, jolly Christmas, and cheers to you!



P.S. – Love the Holidays and want ideas of other fun things to do?

Here’s a fun printable Christmas Treasure Hunt

Christmas Scavenger Hunt Printable Clues

Also…Check out our themed family movie & dinner nights: there are tons of fun ideas with free printables to make it extra special!

How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Dinner & Movie Night

The Grinch Family Dinner & Movie Night

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Dinner & Movie Night

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Dinner and Movie Night

Magan Weber

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