How to Play Dirty Santa Game

presents under christmas tree ornaments image by green308 from

Break out your best china, your favorite eggnog and . . . steal a gift? The Dirty Santa game sounds like something even the Grinch would enjoy. This game is a chance to get creative, have some yuletide fun and break the ice with new and old friends alike. Dirty Santa can be tailored to fit any age group and guest type from a class full of school chums to family members or office parties. Add your own flair to this lighthearted holiday activity and let's get this party started.

Decide on a theme and price range for your game. For example, some people use gag gifts or a Christmas ornament theme, or you can decide that there is no theme at all and everyone just brings a gift.

Instruct each guest to bring a new, wrapped gift that fits the theme and price range you have decided on.

Set all the gifts in the center of the room.

Draw numbers to determine the order of play. The amount of numbers you need will depend on how many guests you have. For example, if you have 20 guests, then you will write the numbers 1 through 20 on scraps of paper and put them in a bowl. Each guest draws a number.

Send the guest that drew no. 1 to the pile to choose his gift. After he has chosen his gift, he unwraps it so everyone can see it. However, the gift must be kept in its pristine condition in the event that someone else wants to steal it.

Tell guest no. 2 that she can choose the opened gift that guest no. 1 picked or select a new gift from the pile. If guest no. 2 chooses an unopened present from the pile than she opens the present and guest no. 3 takes his turn.

However, if guest no. 2 chooses the opened present from no. 1, then guest no. 1 goes back to the pile and chooses a new gift from the pile and unwraps it. Than guest no. 3 takes his turn.

Each subsequent guest decides from all the previously claimed gifts as well as from the ones left on the table. Repeat this step until all the guests have a gift.

After no. 20--the last guest--goes, give the original guest who chose the first gift the choice to keep the gift he has or swap it for one of the others.

Congratulate everyone on their choices because now the game is complete.


  • Avoid disappointment and have a couple gifts in reserve in the event that someone forgets a present or an unexpected guest arrives.