My great-grandmother Irene set up games for us to play as a family during every birthday, anniversary, or holiday gift exchange. In the summer and fall, it was croquet in the backyard.
The winner received their gift first, followed by those who came in second and third place. For birthdays, we’d play Dominoes or Uno. Only, she would pronounce it “You Know!” That winner would always be first for a white elephant gift exchange. She’d offer lemonade, cookies, and joy for all who joined in.
As we reflect on special occasions, often the first place our minds drift is to experiences with loved ones. I always think of Grandma Irene and how she shared such magical moments, gifts, and laughter along life’s path. It impacted me and still does today.
When you need family-friendly games that can be played as a part of or alongside a gift exchange for making your party a hit, here are some fun gift exchange games for family. You’ll also discover family-friendly themes, tips for setting up your gift exchange, and more!
Fun Gift Exchange Games for Family Gatherings
1. Storytelling: One Word at a Time
When you’re into playing games as a family and enjoy gift exchanges, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a game that will keep you on your toes.
Ask each participant to share a word or a phrase. Then, the next person says the next word of the sentence, and so on until the words come together to form a delightful or “interesting” story. For example:
- Person 1: “The”
- Person 2: “cat”
- Person 3: “drove”
- Person 4: “to”
- Person 5: “the”
- Person 6: “store”
- Person 7: “with”
- Person 8: “her”
- Person 9: “favorite”
- Person 10: “mouse!”
In addition to playing the game, ask everyone to participate in a gift exchange. In this exchange, you’ll pair up participants randomly online. Have a gift exchange session, and ask each of the pairs one by one to kick off another round of “Storytelling: One Word at a Time,” only this time with a word that relates to the theme of your gift.
Another game that many people enjoy is an activity of sharing likes and dislikes. You can discover hidden secrets about your family members if you all dive deep and ask everyone to share something others may not realize.
2. Likes and Dislikes
This is a great icebreaker game that can help you get to know family and friends better in no time. Include with this activity a gift exchange related to your participants’ favorite things which you’ll share on a wish list. Or, plan a special party for the birthday boy or girl, wedding party, or graduation class.
Here’s how you play:
- First, ask every participant to record on a piece of paper one like and one dislike. Examples:
- Likes: Cats, Fruit, Saturdays
- Dislikes: Dogs, Spiders, Traffic
- If you have remote video participants, ask them in your invitation to share their posts in advance via email to the host of the party.
- For an easy way to set up your event and communicate the details of your event with participants, see the next section of this article.
- The host of the party will mix up the papers and read them one by one.
- Then, play a guessing game of who wrote what by sharing the responses one by one.
- The first one to guess who wrote that receives a point. And so on.
- The person with the most points wins the game!
You may also want to select gift exchange games for your family with a five-second rule like the next one.
3. Five-Second Rule
Accompany this game with a gift exchange that is related to your favorite topics whether it be dogs, cats, celebrities, or snacks. With over 150 topic cards to choose from you will:
- Select a card and read the topic listed on the card.
- Next, start the twister five-second timer with the exciting “zoop” sound and silver balls racing down as time fades away.
- The participant names three things that relate to the topic. For example:
- TOPIC: Breeds of Dogs – name three in five seconds
- TOPIC: Famous People Named Charles – name three in five seconds
- TOPIC: Purple Foods – name three in five seconds
- When three correct answers are mentioned, the participant can move forward one space on the board. If you don’t have a board, just move to the next participant. If incorrect answers are given, then that question goes to the next player. They must offer three totally different answers.
- With family-friendly topics, even your children as young as eight years old can play.
It’s not as easy as you might think, and everyone scrambles to come up with the answer fumbling over their thoughts. It’s a sure game for family spontaneity and laughter.
Tips for Setting Up Your Event
A Secret Santa generator will help you to set up your event, gift exchange, and coordinate invitations. The free online generator is available 24 hours a day, year-around, and can help you:
- Schedule and plan your next event via your computer or mobile Android or iPhone device.
- Invite participants by including name and contact details. (Note: Include video conferencing links for remote family.)
- Enable your participants to start a wish list.
- Allow attendees to browse gift ideas from multiple shopping sites.
- Enjoy a simple random name pairing generator for pairing names for a gift exchange.
- Shop for games, prizes, and other items for your event.
- Coordinate reminders to those who need to RSVP for your event.
A Secret Santa generator will enable you to discover many ways to connect with fun gift exchange games for family gatherings. So, when you’re gathering with family, you’ll appreciate an easy-to-use system for coordinating the special details.
Gathering for Fun Occasions
My great-grandmother knew how to liven up a party. Are you ready to liven up yours with one of these games with your family and friends? You can use any of these ideas, other fun party games, or even offer links to your participants for free activity printables and just accompany that with a virtual gift exchange.
If you’re ready to connect for gatherings and you need fun gift exchange games for family—and a way to simplify the process—look no further. Elfster makes it easy to pair people up, shop for gifts, and start a Wish List. Plus, you can access it all from an iPhone app or Android app.
Teresa is an adoptive mom of three kids. She’s an author of many family and children’s books and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a minor in Mass Communications from the University of Central Missouri. She has led family, community, and regional adoption events for over 15 years and now lives with her husband, kids, and pets in southern Texas. Elfster’s Secret Santa generator is Teresa’s preferred approach to gift giving as one of her favorite childhood memories is of a Secret Santa gift exchange. She believes Elfster makes everything so much easier, more accessible, and joyful year around!