Chinese Gift Exchange Rules

Even though you might think that you do not need any rules when it comes to having fun at a Christmas party, the truth is that there are a few guidelines that must be followed to ensure there won't be any misunderstandings when the actual present swapping starts.

To summarize: The expectations must be set properly, so that the group knows how much to spend, what type of gifts are allowed, how the order of players will be determined, what constitutes the end of the game and what is not allowed. Let's address all of these rules and more in an orderly fashion:

1. Price/budget of the gifts must be set.

It can be hard to find a proper gift without knowing how much to spend. Simplify the groups task of selecting a gift and ensure that all gifts will be of similar value by setting an amount to be spend for all the presents at your Chinese gift exchange. A good amount is usually from 20 to 25 dollars, but depending on your group, other amount may work as well. There are great Chinese gift exchange ideas available on out gifts page, so make sure to recommend it to your group.

2. Presents must be wrapped. Deception is encouraged!

Each gift must be well wrapped to conceal what it is. This is important for number of reasons, but one of the most crucial reasoning behind it is to maintain the sense of wonder. If the group does not know what's inside the box or wrapping, it's more fun opening it and more likely to fool someone with a deceptive wrapping.

3. The theme must be determined.

Although not crucial, you may set the theme for your gift exchange. This will mean that all the gifts must be of particular type. For example if the theme is alcoholic beverages, everyone must come with a wrapped bottle of alcohol. Theme ideas are endless and what would be a good match for your group depends on your group itself. You do not have to set the theme and in that case - anything goes.

4. Date must be set.

The nature of parties is that more people can attend the better and the more fun it will be. This is especially true when it comes to the Chinese Christmas. You can never have to many people and it's always best to make sure and book a date that works with the majority of your group. After figuring out the perfect date, firing off an email notice along with rules of your party exchange will set get everyone in the mood and ready for the big night!

5. Gifts must be placed together.

After the guests have arrived, make sure to have everyone place all of the presents in once spot. Usually a good spot is a table, if everyone can comfortably fit around it, otherwise a middle of the room works well too and gives everyone easy access.

6. Player order must be determined.

Place numbers in a hat from one to X where X is the number of total players. have each person pick out a random number thus determining their turn in the game. once everyone has been assigned a number, the gift exchange can start.

7. Gifts must be opened and swapped in order.

In the order that was assigned, have each player pick out a gift and open it. A player may chose to open an unopened present or steal one from someone who is holding an already opened gift. Don't get upset if you lose a gift you liked, you will get a chance to steal it back, but not right away!

8. Swapped gift must not be immediately taken back.

You can not steal back a gift that was just taken from you. This is one of the most important rules of the Chinese Christmas that can not be ignored. This rule prevents two players engaging in a never ending swapping of the same gift. It's not pretty when a fight breaks out during a happy party like Chinese exchange, but it can happen if rules are ignored.

9. Game must end and gifts kept.

When all the gifts have been opened and swapped, the game ends. Sometimes the first player is allowed to do a final steal/swap if they so choose and sometimes rules include a mandatory final swapping session which can be either timed with a clock or be of certain number of swaps. Whichever method you chose for ending your game is up to you, and when it's all over, the gift that each person has in their hands is what ends up being going home with them.

Chinese Gift Exchange is growing more popular each year and new variations to the rules are poping up left and right. If you would like to share with the world your way of playing this fun game and the rules you have been using, please let us know!