Friday, October 31, 2008

White Elephant game - how to play

One of the most exciting things to do around Christmas is have a White Elephant gift exchange game. This is not only a lot of fun but a great way for you to unload, I mean "regift" some of the things you don't use. I've played it when everything was a regift and I've also played when we set a dollar limit and we all bought gifts for under the dollar limit amount. However you choose to play it's a lot of fun! Here are the general rules:

Guidelines about the gifts:

  1. The gifts can either be valued around a certain dollar amount, or if you are playing the "regift" version, any amount goes. But even if regifting, it should be something that is usable and in good condition (i.e. new).
  2. The gift should be wrapped but not labeled. No one should know what the gift is or who it came from.
  3. The gifts should all be placed in a central location, like on a table in the front of the room.

Playing the game:

  1. Every one who is playing must contribute a gift. It's a good idea to contribute unisex gifts that can be used by (just about) anyone.

  2. Prepare slips of paper equal to the number of gifts with clearly written numbers. For example if 10 people are playing, you would have 10 slips of paper with one number from 1 to 10 on each.
  3. Fold the slips of paper so the number can't be seen and place them in a hat or bowl.
  4. Each player then draws a number a number out of the hat, this represents your turn (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.).

  5. On the first turn, the player with paper slip #1 chooses a gift, unwraps it and holds it up for every one to see.
  6. Next, the player with paper slip #2 gets the choice of "stealing" #1's gift or choosing a wrapped one. If #2 steals #1's gift, then #1 must choose another wrapped gift and unwrap.
  7. On the third turn, player #3 gets can either steal any unwrapped gifts from players 1 and 2, or choose a wrapped gift.

And on and on it goes until the last player has had a turn!

Other guidelines:

You can play this many different ways and make up your own rules as you go, depending on the situation or if you have a lot of participants and not a lot of time. But here are some popular game play rules.

  • A gift can only be stolen once in a turn.
  • The gift is "dead" after it has been stolen three times and the third owner gets to keep it. (Or you can make this some other limit, like twice).
  • All gifts must be kept visible so that players know what gifts are available to choose from. No hiding gifts that you want to keep!

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