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10 of the Best Christmas Gift Exchange Games for the Office

21 Nov 2023

The festive season is upon us, and what better way to spread joy and laughter than with some spirited Christmas gift exchange games at the office holiday party? We’ve rounded up 12 of the best gift exchange games for your workplace, from classic favourites to new twists. 

Whether you want a low-key activity for a small team or something more lively for the entire office, these games are perfect for fostering team bonding and ensuring everyone leaves with a smile and a special gift.

Fun Gift Exchange Games for the Office

1. White Elephant

White Elephant has become one of the most popular office gift exchange games because it adds a dash of surprise and humour to the process. The excitement of stealing gifts and the unpredictability of what one might end up with make it a holiday favourite. On top of that, many people make it a point to try to give the funniest item each year, which makes for a hilarious game.


  • Everyone participating brings a wrapped gift, which is placed in a central location at the beginning of the game.
  • Each person in the group draws a number to determine the order in which they will choose gifts.
  • The first player selects a gift from the pile and opens it.
  • The following players can either choose a new gift from the pile or steal a previously opened gift. If a gift is stolen, the person who had their gift taken can either choose a new gift or steal from someone else.
  • The game continues until everyone has a gift.

Tips for a successful game:

  • Set a budget for the gifts. (A good tip for all of these games!)
  • If needed, you can set a limit on the number of times a gift can be stolen to keep the game moving.
  • Consider having a few extra gifts on hand in case of unexpected participants.
  • If it fits the personality of your office, encourage people to choose funny gifts. In some offices, there’s a single ridiculous gift that ends up in the pile every year, which becomes everyone’s goal to steal or win. 

2. Rock Paper Scissors Switch

Rock-Paper Switch combines the playful stealing aspect of White Elephant and the game of rock-paper-scissors to add a layer of chance.


To steal a gift in Rock Paper Scissors Switch, one has to defeat the current gift owner in a game of rock-paper-scissors to steal it. This means someone holding a gift that everyone thinks is best (or funniest) may get lots of steal attempts on it before it actually changes hands.

  • Everyone brings a wrapped gift.  
  • To start the game, everyone gets a random gift from the pile.
  • The first player opens their gift.
  • The next player can choose to open the gift they have or challenge the first player to Rock Paper Scissors to steal their gift.  
    • If they win, they get to steal the gift. Their unopened gift goes to the first player.
    • If they lose, they open their current gift, and it stays with them (unless it gets stolen later).
  • Move on to the next player, and continue until all gifts are opened.

Tips for a successful game:

  • For additional suspense, include a rule that you have to win two out of three rounds of Rock Paper Scissors.
  • Encourage everyone in the group to participate in the 3-2-1 count as those vying for the gift do Rock Paper Scissors. 
  • Consider a fun consolation prize for anyone who has a gift stolen, like a consolation Christmas chocolate.

3. Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a Christmas gift exchange game that has more of a personal touch. It also adds an element of mystery and surprise to the gift-giving process. The anticipation of discovering who drew your name and the challenge of selecting a thoughtful gift for someone without them knowing makes it a popular holiday tradition.


  • A few weeks before your office Christmas party, have your colleagues write their names on pieces of paper, which will be placed in a box.
  • Participants then draw a name from the box, keeping it a secret. The name they draw is the person they’ll buy a gift for. If they draw their own name, they draw again.
  • On the day of the gift exchange, there are several options depending on whether you want to do the exchanges as a group or individually. For example, you might:
    • Ask Secret Santas to leave the gift on their recipient’s desk when they’re not there. 
    • Allow Secret Santas to present their gifts in person.
    • Have Secret Santas put the recipient’s name on the gift tag, and put all the presents in a pile at the party. Everyone takes turns opening their gifts, leaving the group to guess who each Secret Santa might be.
  • However you play this game, you can choose for the Secret Santas to reveal their identities or remain anonymous. Choose the right version for the vibe that fits your office.

Tips for a successful game:

  • Give people plenty of time to prepare for this gift exchange, since they may need extra time to decide on the perfect gift.
  • If not all participants are physically present to draw names, use online tools or apps that can randomly assign Secret Santas.
  • Make participation voluntary. For some, it’s too much extra holiday stress to buy for someone they don’t know well.

4. Dice Exchange

Dice exchange is another fun twist on office gift-giving games. Will you swap gifts with someone or unwrap a new surprise? It all depends on your luck when you roll the dice.


For the dice exchange gift game, the choices about what happens to your gift are determined by a roll of one or two dice, depending on how complex you want to make the game. 

  • Everyone brings a wrapped gift, and they are distributed to all players at random.
  • Players roll dice to determine what happens to the gift they’re holding. It’s a good idea to print instruction sheets so everyone can easily track what will happen next. There are lots of possibilities, but here’s a simple version of the game:
    • 1 – Switch gifts with the person on your right
    • 2 – Switch gifts with the person on your left
    • 3 or 4 – Switch gifts with anyone in the circle AND unwrap the gift if it’s not already unwrapped
    • 5 or 6 – Unwrap your gift
  • The game ends when everyone is holding an unwrapped gift.

Tips for a successful game:

  • If you play with a larger group, you can speed up the game by having people unwrap the gifts that get passed to them.
  • With smaller groups, you could start with 2-3 small gifts per person. Then, people can choose which ones they pass and open. 
  • Consider using an oversized pair of dice to make the rolling more dramatic and fun.

5. Musical Gifts

Musical Gifts is a Christmas exchange gift game that is a mashup of music chairs and hot potato where players will pass gifts around the room until the music stops. But, don’t underestimate this one. With the right soundtrack, the music itself can become the most memorable player in this game.  


  • Everyone brings a small, wrapped gift and sets it in a pile by the DJ.  
  • Arrange everyone in a circle, either sitting or standing, and the DJ hands someone a gift. 
  • When the DJ starts the music, players pass the gift. Whoever is holding the gift when the music stops gets to open it. When you’ve won a gift, it’s time to step out of the circle to watch and dance along.
  • Repeat until everyone has received a gift.  

Tips for a successful game:

  • Encourage the designated DJ to add unexpected pauses for more fun.
  • Choose music to match the mood of the office and aim for songs that people already know. Christmas music might be perfect for some groups, but don’t be afraid to go with 90’s dance favourites or anything that will keep people on the dance floor.
  • Encourage non-breakable gifts, in case anyone misses a gift when someone passes it to them.
  • For larger groups, pass around more than one gift at a time to speed up the game.

6. Christmas Chaos

Christmas Chaos is a gift exchange game that keeps things unpredictable right up until the very end. Just as you think you have the gift you’ll keep, someone may request a trade for the most unexpected reason.


  • Print small cards with instructions for how and who to exchange gifts with. You can download it from the internet or create your own. Instructions can be things like:
    • Exchange gifts with someone wearing purple.
    • Trade gifts with some wearing glasses.
    • Swap gifts with anybody who has a pet (show of hands).
  • Distribute all the gifts randomly to the players and place the cards in a central place.
  • Players take turns drawing a card and performing the task.
  • The game continues until all cards have been drawn, and then participants finally open their gifts.

Tips for a successful game:

  • Tailor the instruction cards to suit the group’s personality and interests.
  • Include some office-related facts or trivia as a basis for trades, such as “Exchange gifts with the person who usually gets to the office first.” 
  • Use this game as a chance to show appreciation for one another, by including instructions like, “Trade with a person you enjoyed collaborating with recently” or “Swap your gift with the best office DJ.”

7. Gift Scavenger Hunt

Gift scavenger hunt is a gift exchange game that brings out the Sherlock Holmes in everyone and transforms the gift-giving process into a quest. This game works best at larger office spaces (or holiday party venues) that have many more places to hide the clues and gifts.


  • Each participant brings a wrapped, unmarked gift and gives it to the organiser in advance.
  • The organiser hides the gifts throughout the designated area.
  • Clues or riddles are prepared for each hidden gift, leading participants from one location to the next.
  • Players are given their first clue and set off on the hunt to find their gifts. 
  • The game continues until all gifts are found. Depending on the group’s preference, the first person to find their gift can be declared the winner, or the game can be played just for fun without any competitive element.

Tips for a successful game:

  • Send people off in pairs to compete against each other and see who can find their gift the fastest. People with the fastest times overall can then compete at the end for a final set of clues leading to a bonus gift.  
  • Tailor the riddles to the office space and work culture to add some fun. For example, “Your next clue is in the room where the CEO spends the most time.”
  • Consider types of clues that go beyond riddles, like word puzzles or photos of where the next clue is.
  • Ensure that hiding spots are safe and accessible to all participants.
  • For larger groups, participants can be divided into teams.

8. Gifts by Number 

Gift by Number is one of the simpler gift exchange games to coordinate, but it still adds a nice element of surprise and some anticipation as gifts are sequentially unwrapped.  


  • Everyone brings a gift and each is assigned a unique number. 
  • Participants draw a number from a hat or bowl.
  • Players retrieve the gift with the corresponding number they drew.
  • Once everyone has their numbered gift, participants take turns unwrapping them in numerical order, adding to the anticipation as the numbers ascend.

Tips for a successful game: 

  • Keep track of the gift givers when you assign the unique numbers to try to avoid them choosing the gifts they brought.
  • One fun variant is to assign gift numbers in ascending order, beginning with the smallest gift and ending with the largest, and then having people unwrap them as you call out the numbers. If people know this ahead of time, they might sneak tiny gifts into larger boxes just for a laugh.

9. Holiday Trivia Gift Exchange

Holiday Trivia can also be fun as a way to distribute gifts at the office. This gift exchange game is great for workplaces that enjoy a bit of friendly competition.


  • Prepare a list of holiday-themed trivia questions. These can range from historical facts about holidays to pop culture references, including Christmas movies and songs.
  • Participants take turns answering trivia questions. If they answer correctly, they get to choose a gift from the pile. Otherwise, they wait for their second chance.
  • Once participants select a gift, they sit in the audience to cheer everyone else on.  The game continues until all gifts are claimed.

Tips for a successful game:

  • Tailor the trivia questions to the interests of the group and include a good mix of topics and types of questions.
  • Try a team variant, where you divide the group and teams race to score points for total correct answers and a bonus gift at the end.
  • For a lightning round at the end, set up a series of clips from Christmas songs. When the music stops, people need to buzz in and sing the next line correctly to win a point. (Make this one completely voluntary, in case people aren’t comfortable with singing in front of the group.)

10. Left-Right Christmas Story

For those who enjoy a laid-back yet slightly chaotic gift-giving game, the left-right Christmas story is perfect. The constant passing of gifts, combined with the anticipation of where each gift will end up, creates a lively and engaging atmosphere. Plus, the story itself may be very funny and memorable if you involve the participants.


  • Each participant holds their gift in their lap.
  • The organiser prepares or selects a Christmas-themed story that frequently uses the words “left” and “right.”
  • As the story is read aloud, participants pass their gifts to the left every time they hear the word “left” and to the right every time they hear the word “right.”
  • Once the story ends, everyone unwraps the gift they’re holding.

Tips for a successful game:

  • Make the story about the workplace in some way, and include your workmates as characters in the story.  As a bonus rule, if your workmate’s character speaks in the story, call on the person to make up a line and say it to continue the story.  This can include left or right, or name another character and trade gifts directly with that person.
  • Choose or write a story with a good balance of “left” and “right” mentions to ensure plenty of gift passing.
  • Read the story at a steady pace, allowing just enough time for participants to pass their gifts.

Looking for Gifts for Your Office Holiday Party?  

No matter the gift exchange game your office has planned this year, Oxfam Unwrapped has your gifts covered. We have charity Christmas cards that donate to important causes around the world. They make perfect Secret Santa gifts and great corporate gifts all year round.

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