What kid doesn't love parties? And what kid doesn't love gifts? While "White Elephant" parties tend to be held among adults working in office settings, it's totally easy to turn this fun tradition into a memorable event for the kids!
All you need to make this gift party a success is a few kids and a simple plan. White Elephant works best when at least seven players participate. Encourage the younger children to play, even if they need an adult to assist them. And remember - The more gifts, the livelier the game!
How To Play The White Elephant Gift Game with Kids
Each kid brings one wrapped gift to contribute to the pool. A fun way to add an exciting element to the game is to set a gift theme. Some inclusive, kid-friendly gift idea themes are Costumes, Favorite Books, Favorite Snacks, Arts & Crafts, or Favorite Board Games.
If you want to really shake things up, you could choose a funny White Elephant gift theme like - Things That Are Green, Smelly Items, or Something Shaped Like A Circle. And Make sure to also set a price point so everyone leaves the game feeling like a winner.
Here’s how to play:
- The players' names go into a hat and the organizer draws them in the order they will take their turn. Instruct the players to sit in a line or circle, in the order that their names have been drawn. Make sure to place the pile of gifts where all the players can see them.
- The first player selects a gift from the pile and unwraps it, showing it to the entire group.
- The second player now has a choice to make. They can either choose to take a wrapped gift from the pile or "steal" the unwrapped gift from the first player. If the first player's gift gets stolen, they get to choose a new gift from the pile and unwrap it.
- The third player has even more options. They can choose to take a wrapped gift from the pile, or "steal" an unwrapped gift from the previous players. Every time a player's gift is stolen, they get to choose a new gift from the pile and unwrap it or steal another player's gift. A gift can only be stolen once per turn. If a player wants their stolen gift back, they need to wait for another turn to try and take it back.
- The game progresses this way until the last player in the line or circle has taken their turn.
- After everyone has taken their turn, the lucky, first player gets the last chance to trade the gift they ended up with for anyone else's unwrapped gift. Any player whose gift is traded gets to choose a different player to trade with. The cycle continues until a player decides to keep the gift they have and declines the choice to trade. The game is finished and everyone goes home with a new gift!
To help your White Elephant gift party run smoothly, here are a couple extra tips:
- Explain the rules of the game to the kids beforehand. Emphasize the fact that White Elephant is an exciting game of swapping and surprises so that no one is shocked when the gift they chose to unwrap is "stolen" from them a few turns later.
- Place a limit on the number of times, per turn, swapping is allowed, otherwise, the game could drag on for hours. Three swaps per turn is a fair number and will keep the game moving along and the kids interested.
Have fun playing this great holiday game!