Holiday gift giving games?
December 3, 2004 6:59 AM   Subscribe

What kinds of holiday gift giving games do you play with your friends? [More Inside]

I was unhappy with Secret Santa, so I invented Total Information Awareness Santa. "Not only is it not a secret, but you have to follow your target around for a few days and conduct interviews with their associates, collecting evidence about what they really need and want."

Any other ideas for fun holiday games?
posted by Caviar to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
I hate these and I hate being pressured into doing them but I always do anyway.
posted by grouse at 7:02 AM on December 3, 2004

We did steal a gift, as described in this story.

Everybody brings a gift, usually within a certain price range. Everybody gets a number. The person with "1" goes first and unwraps any gift. The person with "2" now has two options. S/he can unwrap a new gift, OR steal the gift "1" had ("1" would then unwrap a new gift). "3" then can either unwrap a new gift, steal "2"'s gift, or steal "1"'s gift. If "3" should steal "2"'s gift, for example, then "2" would have the option of stealing "1"s gift, or unwrapping a new one. A new round begins at each person's turn, and a gift can only be stolen twice a round. Once you get to the higher numbers (person "14") rounds can take a while--lots of back and forth stealing.

The idea is to be conniving/greedy as hell.

Hope that made sense. It's friggin' early in the morning.
posted by stray at 7:27 AM on December 3, 2004

My particular group of friends doesn't do really well at the traditional Secret Santa, so we've come up with a variation. The Drinker's Kris Kringle is kind of like a drunk Secret Santa: we all go a pre-chosen bar on a given night, put our names in an appropriately festive hat, draw a name, and then buy a drink for that person. We repeat this until we can't find the hat. Merriment ensues.

The only thing the sets this apart from the traditional Secret Santa is the liberal application of booze. There are very few traditional games that can't be improved in the same way.
posted by flipper at 7:28 AM on December 3, 2004

Really? If it's such an imposition to find a present for one person in your peer group, perhaps you should to find some friends (or, I guess, co-workers) that you actually like.

I find that doing stuff like this prevents our group from going crazy. Everybody gets a present, and you only have to shop for one person.
posted by Caviar at 7:28 AM on December 3, 2004

My favorite holiday game is called "Nog in 60 Seconds" and involves a pressurized tank and a fire hose. It's good wholesome family fun.

You can liven up the Secret Santa thing by requiring that the gift-givers dress up in red furry suits and break into the giftees' homes after midnight. Hilarity ensues!

I'm also intrigued by these "reindeer games" that I keep hearing about, but so far have been stymied by the exorbitant shipping rates from Lappland.

Alternatively, you may enjoy hosting a holiday party to which everyone brings a small wrapped gift in a set price range. Put 'em all in a sack and make everyone pick one. Important: After a disastrous party a few years back, I've placed a ban on gifts of loaded firearms, dead kittens, and poison-tipped cooking utensils. YMMV.
posted by naomi at 7:39 AM on December 3, 2004

Stray, that's similar to a YAnkee Swap (.pdf), which I do with my brothers and their wives every year.

For years my family played the "I hate you, you've ruined another Christmas" game, but we managed to grow out of that.
posted by bondcliff at 7:44 AM on December 3, 2004

Stray and Bondcliff, we always called it a white elephant gift exchange, and we used to play every year.
posted by equipoise at 8:42 AM on December 3, 2004

"Yankee Swap"? Is that were people get presents and then the person who is designated the "Yankee" buys them all and then complains when they don't "win" Christmas?

I know, I know... but I couldn't help myself.

We do the white elephant thing, too. That's how I ended up with a ceramic parrot the other year.
posted by papercake at 8:52 AM on December 3, 2004

Caviar: I already get gifts for the people I'm really close to, and there's already more than one person in that group, thanks.

To me, being forced to give something to someone with the understanding that someone will give something to me sounds a lot more like barter than gift-giving.
posted by grouse at 10:32 AM on December 3, 2004

Our bunch does the steal-a-gift exchange (as described by stray) , but in addition to that, the host of the party that year is responsible for the Super Secret Mystery Gift. Historically the SSMG is as odd/creative/disturbing as possible. At some point during the party the wrapped gift is passed around with a pad of paper, and each guest will write down what they think it is. The answers are read aloud, and the person who guessed closest gets the dubious honor of winning the SSMG. Creativity in answering is strongly encouraged, since almost no one ever guesses right.

SSMGs of the past have included:

*Power Ranger action figure buried in a fruitcake.
*An assortment of German candy that was supposed to look like cats' ears/tongues and chocolate mice.
*Incurious George, a monkey hand puppet wearing a necktie, with an empty whiskey bottle sewn to one paw and a mirror/rolled up dollar bill to the other (Dec. 2000, natch).

Last year it was a handmade snowglobe entitled "Santa Claus Sleeps With The Fishes". The creator had taken a cheap Santa figure, epoxied it to some plywood, and then epoxied that to a basketball-sized plastic bowl, or something (after dumping in a handful of glitter, some pathetic-looking rubber goldfish, and not particularly clean water). It was beautiful, in a "thank god someone else gets to deal with that" sort of way.
posted by Vervain at 10:50 AM on December 3, 2004

My best friend and I had a Most Un-unwrappable Christmas Present Contest a few years back. I won, due to my cunning use of papier maché. :)
posted by heatherann at 8:45 PM on December 3, 2004

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