Holiday parties are so much fun, especially when you include a game or two. Dirty Santa is one of my absolute favorite holiday games of all times. My Mocha Moms group plays this every year at our annual holiday party and it’s always accompanied by a load of laughs and inside jokes that follow throughout the year. Everyone seems to play this game differently, or call it by the name of White Elephant, but I’ve learned that there is a difference between the two and are actual rules to follow with the Dirty Santa Game.
At your next holiday party, there are scads of super fun party games to choose from, whether you’re searching for adult-oriented games, kids games or games that guests of all ages can play together. Here are a few that fit into the “everybody” category.
What Is Dirty Santa (or White Elephant)
Dirty Santa is my all time favorite holiday party game! I’ve heard it called both Dirty Santa and White Elephant, but from what I know, there’s one difference between the two. Traditionally, a “White Elephant” is something lying around the house that you don’t want (some horribly ugly item that someone gave you as a gift or some other item unwanted for some reason). In Dirty Santa, the gift should be something someone would actually want or use. It should be in new or good condition.
How to play Dirty Santa / Dirty Santa Rules:
1. If playing Dirty Santa at a holiday party, guests should know ahead of time that if they wish to participate, they must contribute a gift within a pre-set budget (usually around $15-20).
2. Gifts must be wrapped so that the identity of the gift cannot be easily identified. Likewise, guests should NOT discuss what the gifts are or who brought them.
3. When starting the game, prepare slips of paper equal to the number of gifts with clearly written numbers.
4. On the first turn, the guest with paper slip #1 chooses a gift, opens it, and all admire it.
5. On the second turn, the guest with paper slip #2 gets the choice of “stealing” any unwrapped gift (#1’s) or choosing a wrapped one. If #2 steals #1’s gift, then #1 must open a wrapped gift.
6. On the third turn, the guest with paper slip #3 gets the choice of “stealing” any unwrapped gift (#1’s or #2’s) or choosing a wrapped one.
7. Continue this process until every guest has gotten their gift. Note: The gift is “dead” after it has been stolen three times, meaning, the fourth “owner” of a gift gets to keep it and cannot have it stolen. This limit can of course be adjusted depending on the number of players. For example, if you have less than 10 players, you can change the limit to having the gift stolen only 2 times.
Good Gifts for Dirty Santa Games
As I mentioned earlier, unlike White Elephant gag gifts, Dirty Santa gifts should be something desirable that players will actually want to steal. Some of the best gifts I’ve seen over the years include salon or other store gift cards, costume jewelry, simple electronics (mini bluetooth speakers, earbuds), purses, nice scarves, and if you have a drinking crowd – a nice bottle of wine or tequila.
Warning: If done right, this game can get pretty “Dirty” as guests start to fight (hopefully not literally) over the best gifts. The end results – lots of laughs, a little gloating and hopefully fun memories from your holiday party.
Here are a few more fun games to play at a holiday party
Silly Snowman Drawing Contest
This is a very simple game to put together. All you need are inexpensive paper plates and markers. Give everyone one of each and ask them to draw a snowman. Easy, right? Not so much, after you instruct them to put the plates on top of their heads. The winner is the person who draws the most recognizable snowman.
Bingo is always fun when you’re entertaining a crowd. To get into the holiday spirit you can either make your own Christmas-themed cards or do an Internet search for free (printable) ones. If you’re going the DIY route, instead of numbers use holiday clipart. Either way, instead of daubers use red and green M&M’s.
Gift Wrapping Game
Ask each of your guests to pick a partner. Supply each team with gift wrapping supplies to include an empty gift box, scissors, wrapping paper, tape, ribbon and a bow. Instruct each pair of wrappers to stand next to each other and put one arm around the other person’s waist. Let the one-handed wrapping contest begin!
Instead of asking your party-goers to guess the number of peppermints in a jar or something similar, have them guess the number or ornaments on your Christmas tree. This game works best if you have a big tree with LOTS of ornaments.
These are just four (of many) fun games to play at your next holiday party. Getting everybody involved is a great way to break the ice and to make sure that all of your guests will have fond memories for years to come.
Sock Guessing Game
The sock guessing game resembles one of those baby shower games we all love. The object is for guests to guess the items that have been placed in the sock. The items needed for the ‘Sock Guessing’ Christmas game are two or three thick *new* thermal socks (you can probably also use stockings) , random Christmas items (ornaments, bells, tape, etc.), pens, pencils and paper. Each sock is stuffed with 10-20 Christmas themed items. Each sock should have the same items and the opening should be tied with a ribbon so the contents inside aren’t visible. The socks are then passed around for each person to try to feel and guess the items then write down what they think is in the sock. The person with the most correct guesses of objects wins a special prize.
Pin the Nose on the Reindeer
This can be a fun game for kids to play a holiday party. “Pin the Nose on the Reindeer,” is basically just a Christmas version of ‘Pin the tail on the Donkey.’ The items needed are a drawing of a reindeer’s head with an incomplete drawing of the nose and several noses with the names on one side and tape on the other. The picture should be placed against a wall so that children can reach the nose. Each child then gets a nose to play with. They take turns being blindfolded spun around a couple times to disorient them a little then told to walk to the reindeer and place the nose on the picture. The child who places the nose closes to the reindeer’s nose wins.
Office Holiday Party Game: Match the Desk to the Item
If you’re planning a holiday party at work, one of the most fun games to play is called “Match the Desk to the Item.” Here’s how to play: A day or so before the Christmas party at work, someone needs to secretly take one item from each person’s desk and assign a number to each item. At the party, all the items are displayed for everyone to guess whose desk the item belongs to.
These are just a few holiday party games I can think of. If you know of any more, please share them in the comments! What is your favorite game to play at holiday parties?