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Dirty Santa Gift Exchange

Although it’s name might suggest otherwise, the Dirty Santa Gift Exchange is a family friendly game! It is called dirty because game participants steal gifts from each other in the attempt to end up with the best possible gift.

Gifts for Dirty Santa are typically something fun, new, unique, and in good taste.

Check out these $10 Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Ideas.

Unlike the White Elephant gift exchange, Dirty Santa gifts are usually items the recipients will want and use.

As family dynamics change, the way you give gifts may also change.

I grew up in a family that got together with my dad’s side of the family every Christmas Eve.

It was tradition.

My dad and his two brothers lived near each other and we would start at one house for salads and gifts, move onto our house for the main course and gifts, and then finish off at the last brother’s house for dessert and gifts.

Everyone bought gifts for everyone.

It’s what memories are made of!

Then, one of the brothers went through a divorce, my family moved to another state, and the tradition stopped.

My family continued the Christmas Eve tradition without extended family. We continued to purchase Christmas gifts for everyone and had a great time.

As we kids grew older and had families of our own, we alternated which house we would go to each year.

Then, one of my siblings got a divorce and our family dynamics changed, once again.

As our kids became adults, it became harder and harder to get everyone together and we never knew who was going to show up for Christmas.

We also didn’t want our now grown children to feel like they needed to purchase a gift for everyone so we came up with a plan.

We would no longer purchase a gift for everyone. Instead, we would choose a house to celebrate and do a Dirty Santa Gift Exchange!

This way, we each were only responsible to buy one gift, at a set dollar amount, and whoever showed up, showed up! We weren’t left with gifts to try to get to family members who had other plans.

Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Ideas

Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Tips

  1. Set a dollar amount. Often a $10 amount is placed on Dirty Santa gifts. For family gatherings, we set the amount at $20. It’s best to let your guests know the dollar amount you choose.
  2. Have your guests place their gifts just inside the door to keep it anonymous.
  3. Encourage your guests to steal. Stealing makes for a fun, lively game!

Who Should Host A Dirty Santa Party?


Your workplace is the perfect spot for a Dirty Santa Gift Exchange!

There’s no need to bust your budget to buy gifts for every co-worker.

Instead, host a Dirty Santa Gift Exchange and buy ONE gift!


Christmas is an excellent opportunity to party with friends!

Take the weirdness away of wondering if you should buy for every friend and host a gift exchange party instead!


When family dynamics change, kids grow up, or you just aren’t sure who’s going to show up … the Dirty Santa Gift Exchange works like a dream!

If there are still little ones in your family, you could even choose to buy for the kids and do a gift exchange with the adults.

You will also find the teenagers and kids, who are now adults, find this an easy way to participate in Christmas festivities without the pressure of purchasing a gift for everyone. It’s a win win!


Christmas is a great way to get teenagers together with friends to celebrate!

We have lots of ideas for a Teenage Christmas Party!


Any group, club, or … anyone can host a Dirty Santa Gift Exchange! Think Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, your Zumba class, knitting club, or your church small group.

Christmas is the time to celebrate with people you enjoy!

How To Throw A Dirty Santa Party

You can keep your party casual or you can plan additional games and fun!

Any party starts with a plan! Get your Dirty Santa Party Planner here.

Decide if your Dirty Santa Party will be casual where guests will mingle and the focus will be the Gift Exchange or if you want to play additional games and have food.


Determine the location you would like to use for your party. Are you happy to throw a party in your home? Do you need to reserve a spot in your apartment’s community room?


Will you provide dinner or desserts or is this a potluck kind of party?


What kind of drinks will you provide?

Pick A Date!

Once you pick a date, get your invites out as soon as possible. This is a busy time of year and you will likely have a conflict in schedule no matter how hard you try.

Choose A Time

Will you be serving dinner? The time will tell your guests what to expect. If you choose 5:00 – 7:00, guests will likely think you are serving dinner. Schedule a party after 7:00 and guests will know snacks will be served.


It’s always good practice to let your guests know whether or not dinner will be provided.

You can do this simply by stating on the invite; dinner will be provided or, alternatively, desserts will be provided.


There are invitations included in the Dirty Santa Game Pack below or you can do an invite through Facebook.

Be sure to set a dollar amount for the Dirty Santa Gift Exchange and specify what kind of gift to bring.

This is the wording on the Dirty Santa invites in our Dirty Santa Printable Pack:

Dirty Santa is a family friendly gift exchange game where participants steal gifts from each other in the attempt to end up with the best gift!

Gifts for Dirty Santa are typically fun, new, unique, and in good taste.

Unlike the White Elephant gift exchange, Dirty Santa gifts are usually items recipients will want and use!


This is the sweet part! Your house is already decorated for Christmas. That’s really all you need!

Maybe throw in some table decor but don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

Activities And Games

Do you want there to be additional Christmas Party Games besides the Dirty Santa Game?

We’ve got ideas for you!


Do you need prizes? If you choose to do additional games, it’s good to have prizes on hand!

Pick a few things and put them in a basket for your winners to choose from.

We’ve found at Teenage Christmas Parties it’s all about the money. Throw a few $2 bills in your basket and see what goes first!

Get Your Dirty Santa Invitations, Rules, And Numbers Here

There you have it! Everything you need for a Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Party. Well, everything but the people and the gifts and the printer and the paper and the ink … you get the idea!

More Dirty Santa Ideas

$10 Dirty Santa Gift Exchange Ideas

Dirty Santa Gift Ideas

$10 Dirty Santa Gift Ideas For Teens

Dirty Santa

More Ideas For Gift Exchange Games

White Elephant Rules and Printables

Christmas Gift Exchange Games

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Monday 24th of December 2018

Theres a different version we play every xmas eve and its 10x. Better then this.

Everyone brings a gift under 15 bucks. All wrapped. You grab a set of dice. If you roll a 7 or a 11or get doubles you get a gift. The dice go around the tables till the last gift is taken.. DO NOT OPEN THE GIFTS... now here's where it gets fun. Have everyone decide a time limit. Usually 15 mins. Roll the dice if you roll 7 or 11. You can steal a gift from everyone .


Friday 20th of November 2015

We love playing this game every year with our friends. It never clicked to have the rules printed for everyone. Thanks!

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Sunday 22nd of November 2015

Isn't it a great game? It does seem like everyone understands the rules a little differently so having clarification helps a lot!

kay ~ lifestylevoices.com

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

You're so funny, Bridget! I'll bet you are a hoot at parties! :D

Sunshine and Rainy Days

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

Oh, I try Kay, I try;0)

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