Supplies: Wrapped gifts, budget limit, paper and pen
Many people think that a Chinese Gift Exchange and a White Elephant Gift Exchange are the same, well they are not! While the general gift exchange is similar, the meaning behind a Chinese Gift Exchange and other aspects of the gift exchange are different.
Based on our findings the Chinese concept of destiny plays into the Chinese Gift Exchange and as a result the gift you end up with is the gift you are meant to receive. In a sense, your gift was destined to be your gift all along and the playing of the game was just the path that your present took to arrive in your hands.
And since your gift is meant to be yours, there is no reason to unwrap the gift during the Chinese Gift Exchange until the game is over.
The thought behind the gifts in a Chinese Gift Exchange is different to as they should be less novelty and gags gifts and more life, reward and joyous gifts. However you can choose to adapt the Chinese Gift Exchange to your holiday party as you see fit.
1. Send out an invitations letting guests know that there will be a Chinese Gift Exchange.
2. In this Invitation include the follow:
How much should be spent on the holiday gift; $10, $20 or other amount.
If there is a Gift Exchange Theme provide that information
Make sure they know that gifts should be wrapped but with no gift tags (To / From) on the gift.
3. Have guests bring in gifts for the Chinese Gift Exchange on the day of the event.
4. Designate an area for guests to drop off gifts; by the tree, office, storage room, etc…
5. When you are ready to start the Chinese Gift Exchange bring out the gifts and confirm that everyone in the gift exchange is there and has brought a gift.
6. Determining the Gift Picking Order
a. Count how many people are in the gift exchange and place that many numbers in a bowl.
So if you have 10 people you’ll use numbers 1 through 10 and more for larger groups.
b. Now going around the room and have everyone draw a number from the bowl.
c. The person with #1 goes first in the Chinese Gift Exchange and the person selecting the highest number goes last.
7. Chinese Gift Exchange – Gift Selection, Stealing and Keeping a Gift / Safe Gifts
a. The person with #1 goes first and selects a gift from the gift pile. Do Not Unwrap the Gift!
b. Then it’s #2’s turn, where they have the option to: Select a Gift from gift pile or taken the gift that person #1 selected.
– If person #2 takes the gift from person #1 then person #1 must select a new gift from the gift pile and keep it.
– If person #2 selects a gift from the gift pile, they hold on to it.
c. Then person #3 goes and the process continues of taking or selecting gifts.
– If person #3 takes person #2’s gift then person #2 (the giftless person) has the choice to take any gift other then the one taken from them or safe gifts or choose from the gift pile.
– Note: This can get pretty intense once you get into the gift exchange.
Taking / Stealing Gifts
Gift taking can be a touchy subject during gift exchanges so we recommend you clearing state the rules before you begin.
a. When it is a player’s turn they can take any gift (except safe gifts) from any player or select from the gift pile.
b. However the person that has their gift taken can only take gifts from players and gifts from the gift pile. They can not take back the gift from the person who just took their gift and they cannot take safe gifts.
Keeping a Gift / Safe Gifts
In most cases, Chinese Gift Exchanges include rules on safe gifts. A Safe Gift means that the person holding that gift gets to Keep that Gift and the present can not be taken. This is less of an issue during a Chinese Gift Exchange because the gifts are not unwrapped and participants don’t know what they are taking. However big gifts and identifiable gifts by the packaging like bottles of wine tend to be taken many times.
In most Chinese Gift Exchange parties we have attended a gift can be stolen 3 times and then it if safe.
i. Sally picks a gift from the gift pile.
ii. Joe takes the gift from Sally – 1 Steal
iii. Tonya then takes the gift from Joe – 2 Steals
iv. And then Adam takes the gift from Tonya – 3rd Steal
Adam’s gift is now SAFE (and that is the gift he ends up with)
3 Steals seems to work well, but you can opt for more if you wish.
With groups of 15 or less it is pretty easy to track how often a gift has been taken, for larger groups consider placing 1 and 2, 3 stickers on gifts as they move around, this way participants know quickly how often a gift has been taken or if that gift is safe.
8. End of the Chinese Gift Exchange
a. When you get to the last person, they can either choose the remaining gift or take a gift from someone else.
If a gift is taken, then the gift taking continues until the last gift is selected and the Chinese Gift Exchange is over. All guest may now unwrap their gift and see what they received.
b. Gift Exchange End of game Twist
The first person to select a gift is often in a bad position as they did not have a chance to take any gifts. This end of game option changes that and puts all players in suspense.
How to play the Twist: Before the game announce that there is a twist, once all the gifts have be selected you will announce the Chinese Gift Exchange twist.
For fun type up the Twist and place in a sealed envelope for dramatic effect and once the last gift has been selected pull the envelope out and read.
If the 1st person does not have a Safe Gift at this time, then they may Trade for any available gift!
The twist is good for one Chinese Gift Exchange but not every year.