While the classic style of giving specific gifts to friends and family isn't going out of style, gift exchanges, where gifts are randomly given and received among a group of people, continue to be a popular, money-saving option. If you are planning a gift exchange party for your child and some of his friends, make the gift-giving even more exciting with kid-friendly games that determine what gifts the kids receive.
Hot Potato Gift Exchange
Have the kids sit in a circle with each child holding a gift. When the music starts, they pass the gifts to the right. When it stops, the kids can open whatever gift it is they are holding, unless it is their own. Another way to play would be to have only one gift going around the circle at a time, but emphasize that the kids must pass the gift and not try to hold onto it for when the music stops. Each person that gets a gifts, opens it and is out of the game. The game continues until everyone has a gift.
Trivia Gift Exchange
Make the kids answer a trivia question to be able to pick a gift. Keep the questions age-appropriate and holiday-themed. For example, you could ask young children, "What is the color of Rudolph's nose?" For older kids, ask questions along the lines of, "Who is the first ghost that appears to Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol?' " If they get it right, they get to pick a gift. Otherwise, they have to get to the end of the line and wait for another turn. You could also label all of the gifts with numbers and have the kids answer a holiday question with that number as the answer. For example, you could ask, "How many pipers were piping in the "12 Days of Christmas" song? If that child guesses correctly, that child gets to pick up the corresponding gift.
Gift Exchange Mitts Challenge
Have the kids sit in a circle. Give one child a well-wrapped gift and oven mittens. That child must try to open the gift only used on mitten-covered hands. In the meantime, a dice is going around the circle. When someone rolls a six, that child then gets to try to continue opening the gift. Whoever is able to open the gift before someone else rolls a six gets to keep it. Once they have a gift, they are out and the game continues. To make the game go faster, you can introduce two or even three gifts into the circle at a time, depending on how large the group is.
Tie yarn around each gift while still attaching to the spool. Carefully unroll the spool, wrapping the yarn all around objects in the room, such as table legs, over the couch and around stair railings. Repeat for each gift, using a different color yarn, until you have made a massive web of yarn that crosses all over each other. Assign a color of yarn to the kids, who must follow their spool of yarn through the maze to find where their gift is hiding somewhere around the room. With all the kids going at the same time, it gets complicated to keep track of one particular string. The first child to successfully do so wins, but they all can continue playing to find their gift. Another variation of this would be to have to kids follow two spools of yarn at time, with one leading to a present and the other leading to nothing. The kids flip a coin to see who can choose the color string they want to pursue. The child who doesn't get anything, can go again, until all the kids have their gifts.