Party Planning: An Ornament or Gift Exchange Game Your Guests Will Love

Ornament/Gift Exchange Game:

I’ll be honest with you, I normally don’t like games at parties because they always take so long and I’d much rather just stuff my face and visit with my friends. But this game is different. It’s a super-fast game, literally.  It’s over in about 3-5 minutes and it leaves folks laughing. It really is a lot of fun!

Here’s how it works: In the invitation, I always ask folks to bring a wrapped ornament to exchange at the party. (If you like, you can say under $5 or under $10, so folks know they don’t need to spend a lot.)

When you are ready to play, you gather everyone in a room big enough to form a circle. We usually do this in my family room and we end up making more of an oval than a circle. You just want everyone standing in a general circle or oval shape, each holding the ornament they brought to the party.

Tip: I usually buy two ornaments so I’ll have an extra one on hand in case someone has forgotten theirs.

Next, you need someone in your household to read the “Right Family Christmas Story.” (You’ll find it below.) If no one is available and it’s just me, I abstain from playing and read.

Each time the word, RIGHT is read, everyone passes their gift to the right. Each time the word, LEFT is read, everyone passes their gift to the left. After a while, folks are giggling and laughing as they screw up and pass it the wrong way. It gets very funny!

Tip: Whoever is reading needs to emphasize the words LEFT and RIGHT when they read it. It just helps those who are playing.

We played the game at work one year and it was such a big hit, it became a tradition each year from that point forward. It’s easy, over in a few short minutes and gets everyone giggling and laughing.

(You can right-click on the game below and save it to your computer to print out.)

Christmas Ornament Exchange Game for Parties

*If a post is sponsored or a product was provided at no charge, it will be stated in post. Some links may be affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. *

 Never miss a Between Naps on the Porch post! 

*Subscribe to have updates delivered to your Inbox. 


  1. Terry @ La Bella Vie says

    Oh Susan I love this little game!
    I am the party/event planner for my clinic as well as at home for family and this would be a great game for everyone!
    Thanks for sharing:)

  2. I like the fast games too Susan. Sounds fun, fun, fun!


  3. That is cute and would even get strangers engaged with each other.

  4. This is a wonderful idea, I love it!

  5. Susan, THANKS so much for this post! I played this game years ago with our Officer's Wives Club and we had a blast! I always regretted not getting a copy of the story to be able to play the game again in the future…and thanks to you, now I have it!

  6. We love this game! For years I did this at my children's schools with a book for their Christmas party. We have started doing this in our family with something cute from the Dollar Tree, just for fun! Everyone enjoys it πŸ™‚

  7. What a great game idea! My family is getting much too large to buy everyone a gift, and the younger people are having trouble thinking up ideas for each other in the cousins-name-draw.

  8. I'm familiar with ornament exchanges, but I'd never heard of the "Right Family Christmas." What a great idea! Sounds so much simpler (and less likely to cause violent outbursts and physical attacks) than "Dirty Santa!"

  9. I love this game. I have also played it with misc. gifts under $5 or $10. We wrapped them and then you did not know what you received until the game was over πŸ™‚ It is quick fun and a good ice breaker.

    Thanks for sharing

  10. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and information you pass on to us!
    This is a delightful game to play.
    *One hint though: If your party or group happens to be 14 people, be sure to tweak the wording of the story a little, or you'll end up back where you started.

  11. What a fun idea for a game. I'll bet it would work for just about any group. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  12. Linda (More Fun Less Laundry) says

    Hi Susan, this game sounds like fun! I can see how it would break the ice and get everyone laughing. I can't wait to see your ideas tonight! Linda

  13. Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy says

    Thank you, Susan! Man, would I like coming to one of your parties. Your home and thoughtful touches are so beautiful.


  14. I use to play this game with the kids in school when I was a teacher. I'd wrap up little gifts for the students from ME and then they'd sit in a circle and I'd read the RIGHT story they loved it. Always was a lot of fun. Also played this one year at a RE-GIFT swap with adults. Everyone had to bring a wrapped gift from home that was something that they had gotten and didn't want or couldn't use. It was so much faster and fun to see what people got STUCK with than playing the ole Turkey Swap game. Thanks for the memories Susan πŸ˜‰
    Fondly, Roberta

  15. Hi Susan…so do you think we can play this at the Governors Mansion since we are having an ornament exchange…..there should be more then enough room to form a circle and if we're lucky perhaps Governor Perdue can read the Left Right story for us…..
    And then we can promptly be thrown out.

  16. This is my first visit to your Blog and what a great idea for a quick and fun game. I love it. I will pass it along to friends to enjoy.

  17. Hi Susan,
    I love the idea to play this game. What a fun.
    Greetings, Johanna

  18. Susan, you just saved my life! Our company Christmas party is in 3 weeks, and I usually come up with some little twist for fun and entertainment. Last year, I had an auction and gave my girls 50 pennies to bid on unseen wrapped merchandise. I've done theme related gift boxes. This year, I could think of nothing new. We are going to play your ornament game. And the best part, our last name is Wright!

  19. Susan (My Place to Yours) says

    Oh, this is sooooo much better than Dirty Santa! Can't believe I've never heard of this game before, but I'm going to remember it. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Cute idea, and I love having ornaments from friends and family. It makes trimming the tree that much more special!

  21. The Renwicks says

    YAY! This sounds like such fun! Im so excited to try this at our party πŸ™‚

  22. Kim Jefferson says

    We have had a Christmas progressive dinner in our neighborhood for last 26 years. We have done this same thing only we use the story, The Night Before Christmas and change (to the right) when we hear the words, and or the. It is great fun and lot’s of laughs.

  23. Cathy Farquhar says

    We will be using the Nativity story version of this game at out Sunday School Party this year. I did email this version to you. Just chilling around here today and looking at the calendar to get ready for the holiday parties.

  24. I have played the Wright Family game. I went to a store and purchased depending on how many people attending the party, 1 ten dollar, one Five dollar, and the rest in one dollar North Carolina Lottery tickets to equal number of people attending. You should see the people opening those letters, oh, I forgot I placed each ticket in a white envelope.

  25. Definitely using this at my second annual all white ornament exchange dinner. Thanks!

I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment!