41 Fun Youth Group Icebreakers

Do you run a youth group? In need of some youth group icebreakers to get meetings off to the right start? Oftentimes, a youth group brings together young people from different parts of the community who don’t know each other. Many church leaders who work with youth choose to start a service with an “icebreaker.”

These can be questions, get-to-know-you activities, or even just silly games. However, youth group icebreakers should always come with a purpose. Even the most absurd of games can lend to the theme of a message of that day. They also have the added benefit of expelling some of the energy that would later lead to distractions during the service. Enjoy these fun activities with your youth group!

Youth Group Icebreaker Name Games

Sometimes when a lot of new kids have begin attending service, it is good to welcome them to the group with a name game. Getting everyone familiar with each other, and starting with the basics of knowing names, is crucial to good teamwork.

Whomp Em

Whomp Em is a fun circle game. Have everyone stand in a circle. One player is chosen to stand in the middle with a pillow. The player in the middle can only get out by hitting someone in the knees with the pillow. Then they say their name and someone else’s name in the circle. This game is great at relieving excess energy and can go on for a while without getting old. Make sure you set the rule that no one can say the same name twice.

Bumpity Bump Bump Bump

Just like Whomp’ Em, in this game, everyone but one stands in a circle. The person in the middle says the name of someone in the circle followed by “Bumpity bump bump bump.” The person whose name has been called must say the names of the people on either side of them. Pick a random word (spaghetti, ribbit, etc.) that either a facilitator or the person in the middle can shout out at any moment forcing everyone to move elsewhere on the circle and learn new names.

Getting to Know Each Other Youth Group Icebreakers

Even the most close-knit of youth groups will face the drama that comes with being a young person. Playing get-to-know-you games can help the kids in your youth group to identify their similarities and differences. This is critical in teaching them how to work together.

Speed Friending

Speed Friending is much like speed dating, but without the extra awkwardness! Set up several small tables with two chairs at each one. Players get a set amount of time to talk to each other before the facilitator blows the whistle and they must move on. The time should vary with the age group. 7 minutes is perfect for high school students. Be sure to provide some topics for discussion on the table. This avoids situations where the pairs feel under pressure about coming up with original topics.

Question Web

Provide a list of questions (like “Where in the world would you most like to travel?” or “What three books would you want to have on a desert island?”) that everyone can see. There should be at least one question for each player. Have players sit on the floor, with one having a ball of twine or yarn. Have that player answer a question from the list. Then have them look at another player, call their name, and throw the ball of yarn at them while holding on to an end of the yarn. By the end, everyone will know a little more about the others in the group. You will have formed a “friendship web” in the meantime, which makes for great social media picture posts to remember good youth group icebreakers.

If

Provide notecards and pens for everyone in the group, then have them write down one or two “If” questions. Examples could include: “If your house was on fire and you could only save one possession, which would it be?” “If you had to save ten animals for Noah’s Ark, which ones would you save?” Shuffle the notecards while scanning for naughty questions to censor, then set them in a pile in the middle of the circle. Have everyone pick a random question from the pile to answer. One way to keep this more engaging is to have one person pull a question and then ask anyone else in the circle that question.

Name that Person

Divide the group into two teams. Have everyone write down five things that few people know about them, in order of difficulty. Gather the cards, keeping them separated by teams. The other team gets to guess who it is, receiving five points if the first guess is right and one point less for each clue after that. The team with the most points at the end wins. This game can be a great youth ice breaker in talking about how no one really knows a person truly besides themselves and God.

Flags

Provide the group with paper, paints, markers, and other craft supplies. Have each person design a flag that represents them. At the end, have everyone share their flags with the group. Each person should take turns discussing why they chose the symbols on their flags. This is one of several youth group icebreakers on this list that’s better for younger aged groups.

Line Up

This game is best with a large group. Tell the group that, without speaking, they have to line up in order of height. Once this is done, try lining up alphabetically by first name, last name, or even birthdate. The group will have fun figuring out how to communicate with gestures. To keep the pace up and the laughs flowing, play some music and put them on a timer.

Sit Down If

This game is great if you need to keep your audience in a seated formation. Have everyone stand up. Then proceed with statements that start with “Sit down if. . . ” The statements can get pretty silly, such as “Sit down if you’ve ever eaten a bug.” The last person standing gets some sort of prize or designation.

Seven Word Biographies

Explain to the group that they must sum up their entire life in seven words. For example, “Born. Boring career. Found God. Changed Forever.” Many ice breakers ask for opinions, but few ask about a person’s entire life. This is great for the group to get to know each other, but also for the leaders to better understand where the members of their group are coming from. This is also a good opportunity for you to quickly identify any major concerns or problems with your kids.

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Shuffle on Over

Have the group stand in a circle, and then place their shoes in front of them. One pair of shoes is removed, making one less spot than there are players. One player stands in the middle and says, “Shuffle on over if. . .”, ending the statement with something that applies to them. Everyone who agrees with the statement must run to a new spot. It’s important that you tell them they’re not allowed to the next spot over from them. Whoever is left without a spot is the next person to say “shuffle on over. . .”. As a group, come up with a funny catchphrase to say to make everyone run around!

Concentric Circles

This game is great for large groups. Form two circles, one within the other, of equal size. Players across from each other are partners. A leader asks a question such as, “which activities are you involved with at school?” The partners give each other the answer to that question. Then the leader says, “Switch!” The outer circle revolves one spot, giving everyone a new partner. A new question is asked, and the game continues until everyone has spoken to each person in the other circle.

Toaster

The group sits on the floor in a circle. A toaster is in the middle, along with a facilitator, bread, and several toppings. Make the toppings as unique as possible. Start with sweets, but also include random things like really spice sauce. Why not add some marmite too to keep things interesting? Everyone takes turns sharing interesting facts about themselves. The goofier, the better! Whoever is talking when the toast pops up must eat the toast with one of the toppings. With each piece of toast, the toppings will get stranger and players will state facts more quickly to avoid them! Be absolutely sure to check for food allergies before playing this game. Your youth group icebreakers should never end in hospitalizations!

Entertaining Youth Group Icebreakers.

Before a more serious service, it can be good to play something lighthearted. More silly youth group icebreakers can help everyone feel more comfortable around each other and keep them coming back each week.

Chomp

Have everyone sitting or standing in a circle. In the middle of the circle, place three articles of clothing, such as a large sweater, a scarf, and a hat. Also add in some delicious but difficult to chew food, such as marshmallows or chocolate. Taffies are also a great choice. One player receives two dice. When he or she rolls doubles, they will pass the die and run to the middle of the circle. Next they quickly throw on the clothes there and attempt to eat as much food as possible. You can make this game even more difficult by making players pick up the food with a fork or chopsticks. The only goal of the game is to eat some of the food before it is all gone!

Ping Pong Ball Messages

Write the letters to a message on ping pong balls, and place them in a bucket. The bucket can be filled with water or slime, depending on how gross you want to make it. Pudding and green food dye is a good way to keep things marginally gross. To make the process go faster, also include blank ping pong balls for the spaces in between words. If you have a larger group, have the same message in several buckets, and have the team that unscrambles the message the fastest win! This is a great way to introduce the verse of the day.

Octopus Tag

Have everyone form a pair that links elbows. One pair is “it” and has to chase after all the other pairs. When they catch another pair, the pairs link elbows, forming a group of four. They must stay together for a tag to count, and only the people on the end can tag. The winners are the pair of people who are still free! This is a fun youth group icebreaker for keeping everyone active while also building teamwork.

French Charades

This game is a mix of Telephones and Charades. There are two teams, with each person on each team numbered. The first person on each team goes outside of the room to hear a situation that they must act out without words. Biblical stories are, of course, great to incorporate into this game to keep things relevant. The second person on the team goes outside of the room to see the first person act out the situation. Then the third person watches the second person act, and so on. It goes down the line and the team that is closest to guessing the actual story at the end is the winner.

Best Meme Contest

Bring funny pictures of the youth group leaders along with any submissions from your group members. Have the players look at the picture and then write a clever meme for each one. They can work independently, but this is more fun as a team or pair activity. Establish a point system for first, second, and third funniest memes. Bonus points for humorous and appropriate biblical references. The player or team with the most points at the end wins!

Sock Wars

Everyone takes their shoes off and leaves them to the side. Now players must crawl around, trying to pull off other people’s socks. The last person to still have one or both socks on wins!

Church Scavenger Hunt

A church scavenger hunt requires a lot of advanced planning, but it’s great for having kids who only come to church on Wednesdays get to know the place better. You can also put secret messages related to biblical stories or prizes in different fixed locations.

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Clothespin Mixer

Each player attaches five clothespins to their sleeves. The goal is to get their clothespins off of their sleeves and onto someone else’s by the end of the time. If this game is played at a lock-in or other more laid-back event, it’s a great way to keep an on-going source of competition. Make sure you color code the clothespins so that you can figure out where each one came from.

Encore

Break everyone out into even groups. The facilitator yells out words that are frequently featured in popular songs. Groups win a round by singing a song with that word in unison. This game is sure to be popular with anyone who has watched Pitch Perfect! If your organization does lots of songs, then this is a great youth group icebreaker for new members not comfortable singing yet.

Act & React

Players pick a scenario from a hat and the player must act out the emotions from that event. For example, someone who picked “about to get married” might act fluttery and nervous. Other players guess what is happening. To make the game even harder, make the rule that the actor can’t talk.

Birdie on a Perch

Everyone pairs up and decides who will be a birdie and who will be a perch. Then form concentric circles, with the birdies on the outside and the perches on the inside. Have the birdies walk clockwise and the perches counter-clockwise to music. When the music stops birdies must run to their perch (their partner’s knee). The last pair to find each other is out. The winners are the pair that find each other first in the last round.

Cinderella’s Shoe

In this game, partners sit next to each other in a circle. One partner is blindfolded. The partner who is not blindfolded must throw their shoe in the middle of the circle. The blindfolded partner must go to the middle of the circle to receive the shoe with only their partner’s voice to guide them. This is a great partner activity to get group members familiar with and trusting of each other.

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Mummy

Have out several rolls of toilet paper and a few people who volunteer to be mummified. Form equal teams around each mummy. The first team to completely wrap their mummies with toilet paper wins! Be sure to take some pictures. You can turn this into a game of tag afterwards to increase the scare factor.

Freeze Dance

An oldie but a goodie. Play some funky music and have everyone dance. When the music stops, the players must too. Anyone caught moving with no music playing is out! If you have a lot of new members, add a rule that the person who it out has to share a story or fact about themselves.

Strange Disease Diagnosis

A player who has volunteered to be a doctor leaves the room while the patients decide what cooky disease they have. Explain that it should be fictitious. Something like thinking they are goats or being allergic to air. Bring the doctor back in and let the insanity ensue!

Weird Talent Show

This is a great game to bring people up to the front. Host a talent show for people with weird talents or attributes. This a chance for youth group members with extremely long fingers or an ability to burp the alphabet to finally be in the spotlight.

Zoom-In Game

Here is a short game to bring attention to the front of the room. Project an image of a zoomed-in object. Have everyone guess what it is and throw prizes to whoever guesses right first.

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Barnyard

Everyone is blindfolded and assigned to an animal. They have to make that animal’s sound and group themselves with other people around them who are the same animal. This is a fun game that is sure to bring laughs. Have people take their shoes off first to avoid injuries. Clear any chairs and desks to the sides of the room so everyone has space to move around.

Screamer

Everyone sits in a circle, looking at the ground. On “Heads Up,” they must look up into someone’s eyes. If two people are staring at each other, they must both scream and get out of the circle.

Killer Wink

In this game, one of the players is selected to be the murderer. Do so in such a way that players cannot tell who is chosen, perhaps by handing out slips of paper, one indicating that the player is a murderer. Players can either form a circle or just mingle about. Any player who is winked at by the murderer must wait five seconds and then die a fantastic theatrical death. A Player who thinks they know the murderer can raise their hand and say, “I accuse.” They ask for someone to second them without either naming who they will accuse. Then both accusers count to three and point to who they would like to accuse. If the two point to different people or both accuse an innocent person, both accusers die. Two accusers must point to the killer for the killing spree to end.

Outdoor Youth Group Icebreakers

If your church has an outdoor space, make the most of it! Outdoor games are great for expelling excess energy, and you will notice the improvement in behavior during the service!

Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate Frisbee is a great outdoor game, even for kids somewhat intimidated by sports. It’s non-contact sport with pretty simple and straightforward rules. To start, a team is chosen to pass the frisbee to the other side. The holder of the frisbee cannot take a step, although they can pivot. Points are only scored when a player passes a frisbee to a teammate in the end zone. Vary how many points are needed to win by how much time you have.

Big Bad Wolf

Have one player volunteer to be the wolf. The wolf stands apart from the other players (“the sheep”). On go, the wolf runs and tags as many players as possible before they cross an established safe line. Players who are tagged help the wolf tag more sheep in the next round. The winner is the last sheep left whom the wolves haven’t tagged.

Constant Contact

This game is great for smaller groups or for large groups broken up into teams. Have everyone on a team in a line with their feet touching. The goal is to cross a finish line. The catch is they can’t move forward unless everyone’s feet are connected to the group. A third party watches and blows a whistle when anyone has broken contact. At this point, the entire group must go back to the starting line and start over again.

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Ostrich Tag

Choose 1-2 hunters (depending on the size of the group) to try to tag the rest of the group (the ostriches). When an ostrich senses a hunter nearby, he must stick his head into the snow and thus avoid getting captured (or maybe just the top of his snow cap, depending on the weather). Make sure that it is a warmer day and the snow is soft.

Lawn Twister

Play a giant game of twister! All you need are stencils, spray paint, and a lawn. This is a great summer game—just make sure everyone is dressed modestly.

Frozen T-shirt Game

Play this game on a hot summer day! Soak t-shirt for each contestant in water and freeze it overnight. Each contestant receives a bag with a frozen t-shirt. Whoever can get the shirt on the fastest is the winner.

Giants, Wizards, Elves

Essentially a giant game of Rock Paper Scissors, this game is a riot to play. Divide the group into two equal teams. Instead of rock, paper, or scissors, a team can choose to be giants, wizards, or elves. Giants stand on the toes and roar, wizards cast a spell and say “shazam,” and elves cup their hands over their ears and say “EEE!” Giants beat elves by crushing them, elves beat wizards by outsmarting them, and wizards beat giants by casting a spell on them. Before a round, teams huddle and choose a creature. Then the troops gather across from each other. The team that chooses the winning creature runs and tags as many of the other team as they can. Tagged people join the other team. The team that captures everyone is the winner!

Everybody’s It

In this version of Tag, everyone tries to tag everyone else. Everyone who is tagged must sit down, and the last person standing is the winner. It can go by fast, so it can be fun to hold several rounds.

There you have it, 41 Youth Group Icebreakers that are sure to keep everyone moving and having fun. Check out our extensive list of icebreaker questions for more tips on keeping things upbeat. Remember, safety first, but fun in close second. Amend any one of these games to include biblical and other learning references as you wish.

What is your favorite game from this list? Have you had fun with other youth group icebreakers? Please let us know in the comments section!

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Best Board Games for 3 Year Olds

 

The Best 5 Board Games for 3 Year Olds

There is nothing better than family game nights, especially while your kids are still young. Get the fun started early, with a great batch of board games for 3 year olds. Once our kids hit the teenage years, it can be hard to keep everyone together. So start early!

Oftentimes, parents are apprehensive about playing board games with preschoolers. Don’t get too caught up with the negatives. Preschool age is the best time to have them associate simple rules with having fun. 

Board games geared towards the 3 year old crowd are often team games or games featuring easy competition. Board games for 3 year olds can offer great learning opportunities for all sorts of things. Whether its numbers, letters, colors, vocabulary, or critical thinking, board games for 3 year olds are good brain builders. 

Here are our 5 favorite board games for 3 year olds. You should consider any one of these for your little one’s next birthday or surprise present.

Our top Board Games for 3 year olds 

best board games for 3 year olds
Peaceable Kingdom Feed the WoozleEducational Insights The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel GameHi Ho Cherry-OPeaceable Kingdom Stack Up! Award Winning Preschool Skills Builder GameWonder Forge Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It
2-5 players2-4 players2-4 players2-6 players2-6 players
For ages: 3+For ages: 3+For ages: 3-6For ages: 3-5For ages: 3+
Cooperative game? YesCooperative game? NoCooperative game? NoCooperative game? YesCooperative game? Yes
Teaches: Counting, Dexterity, Motor Skills, Balance, Body AwarenessTeaches: Colors, MatchingTeaches: Colors, Counting, MatchingTeaches: Color-matching, BalanceTeaches: Counting
Check PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
  • best board games for 3 year olds

  • Peaceable Kingdom Feed the Woozle Award Winning Preschool Skills Builder Game
  • 2-4 players
  • For ages: 3-6
  • Cooperative game? Yes
  • Teaches: Colors, Shapes, Numbers, Counting
  • Check Price
  • Educational Insights The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game
  • 2-4 players
  • For ages: 3+
  • Cooperative game? No
  • Teaches: Colors, Matching
  • Check Price
  • Hi Ho Cherry-O
  • 2-4 players
  • For ages: 3-6
  • Cooperative game? No
  • Teaches: Colors, Counting, Matching
  • Check Price
  • Peaceable Kingdom Stack Up! Award Winning Preschool Skills Builder Game
  • 2-6 players
  • For ages: 3-5
  • Cooperative game? Yes
  • Teaches: Color-matching, Balance
  • Check Price
  • Wonder Forge Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It
  • 2-6 players
  • For ages: 3+
  • Cooperative game? Yes
  • Teaches: Counting
  • Check Price
 


Peaceable Kingdom Feed the Woozle

best board games for 3 year olds

To start with, we’ve put Feed the Woozle at the top of our board games for 3 year olds recommendations because of the fun factor. It teaches your young one dexterity, gross motor skills, body awareness, balance, language development, and counting! First, it’s incredible that a simple board game can do so much for the development of a child. Plus, it offers enough variation for a multitasking parent to stay relatively engaged. 

The idea behind this game is that the “Woozle” loves eating hairy pickles and fuzzy donuts. Accordingly, and working together, players help feed him 12 crazy treats before all of the snacks are gone.

One of the best parts about Feed the Woozle is that it can grow with your child, because it has three different levels. Feed the Woozle makes a good board game for 3 year olds, but you could start your 2 year old off with this too. The game doesn’t require any reading, so even very young children can participate in this game! In additional to all of the wonderful developmental benefits of this game, children will also learn how to take turns. So if you have kids spaced apart by a year or two, this is a good way to help them guide in social skill development. Feed the Woozle is also a nice game for the kids on early age playtime get togethers.

Cooperative games such as this one are known to support emotional development, positive self esteem, shared decision making, and creative problem solving. They can also develop a sense of community through a non-stressful play environment.

Your child is sure to love playing this game, and you’ll have fun playing with them! The best part about it is that you’ll get to directly see the benefits that they gain from it.


Educational Insights The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

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Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance your child has already been exposed to outdoor animals. Maybe you have a cat or dog in the house who goes nuts watching squirrels from the kitchen window. Either way, the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel is a good segue into teaching your kids about the great outdoors. 

This can be a thrilling and multi-functional board game for 3 year olds. The squirrels are hungry and it is up to the players to collect five acorns in order to win.

Each player takes turns spinning the spinner and then using the large squirrel tweezers to retrieve an acorn and put it into the matching color on their own log.

Not only does this exciting game help to teach colors and matching, it also helps to teach strategy with options like “lose” “steal” and “pick” an acorn. The use of the squirrel tweezers helps to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. 

This game also helps with great social skills like turn-taking and good sportsmanship. So, it’s great for playing amongst siblings and little friends. Keep in mind, the “acorns” that come with the game are small and can present a choking hazard. If your child is still in the stages of eating random objects, wait a few more months on this one.


Hi Ho Cherry-O

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A fantastic fall activity for the little ones is going fruit picking. This might be in an apple orchard if you live in the right climate, or maybe an orange grove. The late stage toddler years are formative. So, board games for 3 year olds that offer fun introductions to the outside world are particularly beneficial. 

Hi Ho Cherry-O is a timeless classic game for 3 year olds and preschoolers that makes counting fun for everyone!

Each player chooses a fruit (cherries, blueberries, oranges, or apples) and races to fill their fruit basket first. Turns are taken with the spinner where the player gets to count the number and put that number of fruit into their basket. Otherwise, their basket spills or a bird eats a piece of fruit, and they must return fruit to the tree. Whichever player fills their basket first wins!

This fun game teaches social skills such as turn-taking, patience, and good sportsmanship (not everyone is the winner!). Furthermore Hi Ho Cherry-O helps to teach and reinforce math skills like addition and subtraction in an exciting way.


Peaceable Kingdom Stack Up! Award Winning Preschool Skills Builder Game

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Stack 12 blocks before the Stack Smasher comes!

In this fun, low-stress, cooperative game, players work together to stack 12 blocks before the Stack Smasher smashes their tower. To begin with, they spin once to find out which color of block they must add to the tower, and spin again. On this second spin, they’ll get a tricky challenge for adding the block. One challenge might be putting the block on top of the stack with their eyes closed.

There are three levels and sets of directions to play this game so that it grows with the children and their abilities. Stack Up! is the kind of game that can still be lots of fun to play for several years.

Stack Up! teaches great hand-eye coordination for kids, as well as color matching and balance. Lastly, it’s a great game for reinforcing teamwork in a playful and positive manner.


Wonder Forge Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It

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This game includes a game board that is over six feet long! In summary, players will have to work together as a team while they bustle through Richard Scarry’s World of Busytown on an adventure. Throughout the game, they’ll be searching for secret objects.

Pig Will and Pig Won’t are on a task to gobble up all the food on Picnic Island. It is the players’ goal to find all the hidden objects in Busytown before the piggies eat everything. Each player takes a turn spinning the spinner in order to make a move. The players aim to make it onto the ferry and to Picnic Island before the pigs have devoured all the food. Finally, once they’ve escaped to the ferry, they win!

Teamwork is imperative for this interactive and engaging game, and it also teaches counting and turn-taking. This age is a truly critical time for connecting your child with the idea that success often depends on cooperation. If your kid can enter preschool with a team player mindset already grained, they’re on the right track. 

Furthermore, this is a great board game for 3 year olds because it presents a truly imaginative world. Every parent wants their kids to have a budding imagination to keep the creative juices flowing.


Board Games for 3 Year Olds: Final Thoughts

If you are ready to introduce board games to your little tyke, go ahead and play one of these great games. Any one of them is sure to be a hit with your kid and with you too. As a rule, for parents, it’s important to stay engaged with your child when you’re playing. Undoubtedly, all parents have to multi-task here and there, but you want to be sure your kid is on the right path. Therefore, when you’re playing board games with your 3 year old, leave the phone in the next room.

Looking for more board games for 3 year olds? Check out our guide to the best strategy board games of all time and our list of board games with marbles. Have you played any of these games? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, tell us what you think!

Gift Exchange Games for Large Groups

Are you hosting a gift exchange and want to spice it up a little? One easy way to bring the gift of giving to a big group is to incorporate a fun game into the mix. It will take away some of those overwhelming feelings and get everyone in the mood for a party. Whether you’re in charge of your child’s birthday party, a family holiday get-together, or an office party games are ideal.

Therefore, we’ve made a list of great gift exchange games for large groups. Perhaps you can make things unique this year with a gift exchange for groups of friends, family, or co-workers. Make everyone stand in awe of your hosting abilities by giving them some low stress and generous fun. Try one of these great games and let us know what worked the best for your group.

White Elephant Game

My all time favorite gift giving game is white elephant. This can work amazingly with a group or even a smaller party. Firstly, it’s easy to play anywhere, whether you’re at home, in the office, or hosting a gathering at a bar or restaurant. Part of what makes white elephant fun is its versatility.

Next, the rules to the white elephant game are very simple so far as gift exchange games go. First, everyone coming to the party brings along a wrapped gift. The gift needn’t be prepared with any particular recipient in mind. Second, all the gifts are placed in one area together.

When it’s time for the actual opening, the first person chooses the gift they would most like. However, the next person can either choose a gift from the table or steal the gift from the individual before. This continues down the line until everyone ends up with a present. Those who were stolen from may go back to pick up a new gift, which can’t be taken by anyone else. 

What makes the white elephant game unique is the aspect of taking a gift, as well as the idea behind the gifts. You can bring anything you like, provided it is wrapped. However, most people bring silly, unique gifts that you might not see anywhere else. Unpredictability really amps up the fun factor. Plus, white elephant can turn a usually stuffy situation into something incredibly entertaining!

Cheer Exchange

Cheer Exchange is a fun gift exchange game that will work with groups of just about any size. This may take a bit longer with a crowd, but that just adds to the fun. First, everyone goes to the party bringing a wrapped gift, just like White Elephant. It’s usually good to set the gifts at a certain price limit. Once everyone is there and settled, the game begins.

The host should give directions to the guests to get the game going. For example, you might say something like “If you’ve already done all of your holiday shopping” or anything else. Those who fit that criterion will then stand up. The ones who remain standing will swap gifts with each other. Then you go on to the next set of rules, trading between those who remain standing each time. After someone has swapped, they no longer need to stand up in the next round as they have a present of their own.

The game continues until each person has had a chance to exchange their gift with someone else at the party. I’ve found that to keep this gift exchange game fun, it’s best to think up goofy criterions first. You may want to have your statements be on a raunchy never have I ever level, or even mildly embarrassing. Always think about your audience first.

Hot Potato

Hot Potato might be known as a silly children’s game, but it can be a lot of fun for adults as well! In this scenario, everyone brings a wrapped gift as per the usual rules. The gift needn’t be for anyone in particular, but set some group standards. Next, everyone will be put into a circle (or many circles, if required) and a gift is handed out to the group. Only one present will be used at a time. 

The game plays out as you might expect. The person with the gift passes it on beginning when the host starts a timer. The people pass the gift around until the timer stops. The person who is holding the gift when the timer goes off gets to keep it. They leave the circle and are finished participating. Meanwhile, the game goes on with the next gift. This goes on until everyone has a gift in hand. It’s a fun game that will cause a lot of laughs in my experience.

I would suggest it, especially for a family get-together. You can replace the timer with a clip from a song instead. The more inside jokes you work into the soundtrack, the better! 

Musical Chairs

We’ve all played a game of musical chairs in school. However, the gift exchange game based on musical chairs is a bit different. First, everyone shows up with their individually wrapped gift as with all of the previous gift exchange games. However, when arriving at the party, they will then place their gift on a chair somewhere in the room.

Gameplay begins with the host starting a song, something for the holiday or occasion, and everyone circles the presents as it goes on. The song is stopped at the host’s discretion. Finally, the present that’s in the seat in front of the partygoers is theirs to keep. The guests can open their gift and then use the seat for the rest of the festivities!

Musical chairs make for a nice gift exchange game for large groups and parties because it’s a nice introduction. Who doesn’t want to start off a big gathering with a new toy? 

Secret Santa

Secret Santa is the ultimate classic gift exchange game. This traditional but fun game rounds out the fifth spot on our list of games. This is a name drawing game, but it contains a bit more spice. To begin with, everyone participating has their name put into a hat. This occurs in the days or weeks leading up to the celebration. Once all names have been put in the hat, the host allows each person to pull a name from the hat. If you won’t have an opportunity to gather everyone before the party, randomly allocate names yourself. Do you have a bunch of friends returning home from all over the place? In that case, try using this Secret Santa name generator to avoid host bias. 

It’s the responsibility of the individual who receives a name to get that person a gift. Sometimes this may be small gifts over a period of time, especially useful in an office situation. Other times you may just get one larger gift for the person you chose out of the hat.

Make sure everyone is on the same page first to avoid crazy spending discrepancies. On the day of the actual party, each person brings a gift labeled for the person who will be receiving it. They should bring their present and discreetly place it in a communal area. When playing, each participant unwraps their present and then tries to guess who bought it for them. This aspect is often the best part of the whole game since it shows how well you know each other. 

A few tips on giving the perfect Secret Santa gift. Personalize and tailor the gift to your match’s needs and wants or personality. Make the gift reflect them or, if you don’t know them that well, make it reflect yourself. Lastly, when in doubt, inject humor or thoughtfulness into your gift idea.

Gift Auction

No money is required for this fun game, at least no real money! Everyone brings a gift to the party and trades it in for some Monopoly money. The amount doesn’t matter as long as everyone has the same available at the start of the game. Once everyone is ready, the real fun can start.

The host can act as the auctioneer for the selling and buying of gifts. First, a gift is presented and people can bid their “money” on it, if it’s something they think they’d like. Whoever bids the most gets the gift in the end. You keep the auction going until everyone has a gift. This is a fun and interactive way to get a big group excited and interested in what’s going on. Who doesn’t love a pretend auction? 

Left or Right

Left or right is a fun gift exchange game that allows for some creativity on the part of the host. Before the party begins, the host needs to make up a story that contains many instances of the words ‘left’ and ‘right.’ You can also find some online if you prefer, but creativity is usually half the fun. Once that’s done, the party gathers as normal with everyone bringing a wrapped present.

Everyone will sit with the present they brought in, and the host will explain the rules. As the host reads the story, the packages change hands to the left or right each time the host says these words. The story continues until the end. At this point, each guest has a gift in their hands. They get to keep it, and everyone can open their new and exciting parcel.

If you’re dealing with a group of people who don’t know each other well, this makes for a nice opening activity. 

Dice Exchange

Dice Exchange is an interesting one and can easily accommodate a large group of people. Everyone attending goes out and gets a gift that anyone would enjoy. They bring that present, wrapped, to the office or home where the party is going to be held. In this case, they keep these presents with them until the game begins. 

Everyone sits in a circle (or groups if there are many people) and dice are handed out. Not every person gets one. Every few people are handed a die, and they are then allowed to roll the die. A song of some sort, holiday or otherwise appropriate, starts and the game off.

If the person with the die gets a 3, they get to trade the gift they brought with someone else. Whether they get a gift or not, they pass the die on to the next person and play goes around the circle. This continues until the song ends and everyone keeps the present that has landed in front of them.

Love dice games? Make sure you check out our extensive list.

The Numbers Game

The numbers game is a fast paced gift exchange game to build some healthy competition into your party. Everyone shows up, and as they do, you take their gifts and mark a number on each one. You will then hand them a paper with the same number on it. Ask them to write down an unusual fact about themselves. That paper goes into a hat, and the presents are all collected for later.

Once the time comes for gifting, the host will pull a piece of paper from the hat and read out the fact, but not the number. People can then guess who the fact is about. The first person to get it right gets that present and are out of the game for the rest of the time.

The game continues until everyone has a shiny new gift. This one is a lot of fun, and you can get people participating pretty quickly. There’s something about fighting for a gift that gets people all riled up. It’s also a nice game to reward those who know the most about everyone else in the group. 

Whose Gift

If you have a group that likes to get rowdy and have a lot of fun, this Whose Gift is the game for you. All of the gifts are wrapped and put in a central location. You decide on an order for participants in whatever way you want. You can draw names or come up with something a bit more creative.

Once the person comes to the table, they get their gift. The game actually begins with people opening up their presents. Then the fun starts. The person who received the gift has to guess who brought the gift. If they get it right, their turn ends, and you move on to the next person. However, if they get it wrong, and this will happen a lot – they have to sing a song or do something equally embarrassing.

If you’re looking for something additionally rowdy, check out our truth or dare list for good challenges. This gets everyone to lighten up some and have fun. It also really makes a party exactly that. You’re already in the mood to enjoy yourself after watching everyone and perhaps making a fool of yourself, too!

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