Dirty Santa Gifts And Ideas

Probably the most important element of The Dirty Santa Christmas Exchange is the wrapping of a gift. As mentioned, this game is all about trickery and it starts with the wrapping. All guests should understand that the gift cannot look at all like what it actually is, and this is where your guests can get creative. This is known as 'decoy wrapping' meaning you are intending your fellow gift exchange players to think that a gift is something that it is not, and in particular, more valuable than it actually is.

Decoy wrapping ideas that work well for Dirty Santa is anything you can think of that will lend itself to the element of surprise, a player being unable to guess the gift, such as:

  • gifts that are hidden in iPad or iPhone boxes, or wrapped in boxes within boxes within boxes (small to medium to large) to make the gift look much bigger than it is;
  • wrap in an animal shape, the shape of a house, stack boxes on top of one another to look like a square snowman, creating any shape through wrapping that leads the player to think it is something that it is not;
  • 3-4 pairs of socks placed in an empty wrapping paper tube;
  • adding something to the gift to throw the chooser off, like a small box of thumbtacks or paperclips to make the present rattle, a dead weight like a can of vegetables to make it heavier than it actually is, a scent strip of some kind to make it smell like something it is not;
  • adding layer after layer after layer of wrapping paper so that the gift opener has to go through so much paper to get at the gift;
  • place books or clothing inside cereal boxes, add a rattle-maker, and someone thinks they are getting a box of Raisin Bran for Christmas;
  • Some parties center around Treasure Hunts, that in order to find your present, you have to follow a series of clues as to its whereabouts. Of course this plan only works if every participant is very familiar with the location of the Dirty Santa Gift Exchange;
  • a clear plastic smoothie cup can be used to disguise all sorts of small gifts;
  • a kleenex box with the slot still visible can be used to hide many small wrapped gifts, so that the player has to reach in and grab one at a time.

The next most important part of the game is the quality of the gift. As mentioned previously, The Dirty Santa Gift Exchange does not lend itself well to cheap or junky gifts, gifts that might not have a lot of appeal or gag gifts. You want the gift to inspire swapping or stealing within the group, so value, usability, beauty, originality and current-trends gifts are all appropriate to this exchange.

Re-gifting is allowed as well, as long as the gift is hardly used, not broken and will provide value to the group. Guests can buy 2-3 gifts within the price range and wrap these in one set of packages, or they can buy one gift within that price range.

Gift Tags: Adding to the element of surprise and continuing with the goal of fun, have your guests write a short riddle or poem as the gift tag. This can include clues about what the present is not (or is!), whether it is used in daily living or for fun, outdoor / indoor, self-improvement, inspiration, gadgets - anything that will encourage the gift-chooser to try and guess what the gift is. Of course even better, if your poem or riddle also coincides with how you've wrapped it - a double clue to keep them guessing! The more effort your guests put into the wrapping and the tag, the more fun the game will be.

Here are some sample themes with gift ideas that you can use for inspiration for organizing your own Dirty Santa Gift Exchange.

DIY or Do It Yourself: You can take this in many directions! Whether its tools for at-home works, or crafts you've made yourself, from fix-it books to make-at-home recipe cards, this theme has a wide range of possibilities. But don't forget it's all in the wrapping and the tag!

Entertainment: from movie posters wrapped up as hockey sticks to albums disguised as pyramids, this theme can include movies, dvds, books, mini-figurines, playlists, board games, outdoor sports, even camping and trekking gear. The theme is wide open for interpretation for your guests.

Green Up: this environmentally friendly theme could have your guests wrapping their gifts in newspaper or recyclable materials only, as long as it doesn't look like the gift inside. Gifts purchased under this theme can include portable compost buckets, seed packets, garden accent gifts, work gloves, window sealing kits, draught-stoppers for doorways, repair kits for bicycles, gardening tools, or any goods or service that are environmentally friendly.

This Year's News: With this theme, your guests scour their news sources for a piece of news that tickles their fancy. Then they find a gift that matches that piece of news. In wrapping the gift, they include the piece of news printed out and placed inside the gift. The wrapping should reflect the news item and the riddle or tag should also allude to the news piece. This theme guarantees you will have a wide variety of gifts from a wide variety of topics!

Use your imagination and know your group when deciding how to structure your Dirty Santa Christmas Exchange. There's a trickster in all of us, and everyone loves to guess what's inside a gift. The more your guests can disguise a gift through decoy wrapping and tagging, the more fun your group is guaranteed in being part of this great Christmas gift exchange game.