If you’re looking for somewhere to learn about the white elephant gift exchange game, this is the place!

You might have heard people refer to it as a Yankee Swap. Whatever you call it, it’s simply a Christmas party game in which gifts are exchanged. A lot of people do it at work, or with a group of close friends. It’s a fun way to give and receive gifts without having to spend a lot of money or put a lot of thought into the process.

Just remember, it’s more about having a good time and a laugh, than it is about actually receiving and giving meaningful gifts.


  • Everyone who is participating buys an inexpensive gift and wraps it up.
  • All of the gifts are rounded up and put in one place, like a table or a corner.
  • Participants determine the order in which people will choose gifts. You can do this by picking numbers out of a hat, for example.
  • The first person chooses a gift and unwraps it.
  • All subsequent participants can then choose to either unwrap a new gift, or steal a gift from someone who has already played a turn.
  • If someone steals your gift, you can either unwrap a new one, or steal a gift from someone else.
  • After the final participant chooses a gift, the first person is allowed to choose again.
  • The game ends once the first person goes again.
  • Once that happens, every participant has received a gift and the game has officially ended.


If there are a lot of people in a group and they all start stealing gifts from each other, it could take a very long time to get done with each turn. So that is one of the main reasons why variations started being invented. Some of the popular variation are:

  • If someone steals from you three times during the game you can no longer be stolen from.
  • If any present gets stolen three times, the last person who had it must keep it.
  • Limiting the number of turns or steals per turn.
  • Stating beforehand whether the gift is for a male or female.
  • Custom cards included with each gift, containing instructions like “pick two gifts” or “you’re not allowed to steal” which the person who pulls the card has to follow.

There are many other variations, but you can always make up your own rules.


The secret to getting the perfect white elephant gift is to not over think it. It should be a very spontaneous action. Have fun, but keep the fun “PG” when buying your. Remember, not everyone has the same sense of humor and you don’t want to offend anyone.

It should also be pretty inexpensive, usually under $50. Also, when it comes to price, it’s a good idea to agree on a budget. This way, there will be no questions about how much should or should not be spent on the gift.


Black Santa
Chinese Auction
Cutthroat Christmas
Dirty Santa
Greedy Punter
Machiavellian Christmas
Naughty Santa
The Grinch Game
Thieves’ Christmas
Thieving Elves
Thieving Secret Santa
Rob Your Neighbor
White Elephant
Yankee Swap