Getting bored with traditional White Elephant? Lucky for you, there are oodles of variations to try. One of the more noteworthy ones is the gift exchange dice game, which brings an additional element of chance to the ever-popular Christmas gift swap.
To play White Elephant with dice, you’ll need a couple of extra props: one or more six-sided dice, and a crib sheet that tells you what happens when different numbers are rolled. You probably have the dice lying around the house. The crib sheet you can find at the end of this article, after we’ve gone over the basics.
Overview and Setup
The setup for a gift exchange dice game is very similar to standard White Elephant. In the gift exchange invitation, the organizer specifies a price range for gifts (typically in the $20 range). Each player is expected to come to the gift swap with a wrapped gift that fits within that price range.
As I mentioned, the organizer brings dice and a rules sheet explaining what happens when players roll different numbers. It’s not necessary to print out a sheet for each player. You’ll be passing dice around the circle, so you might as well pass the rules sheet as well.
The game proceeds much like vanilla White Elephant, but with players rolling dice to determine what they can (or must) do during their turns. Unlike other gift exchanges, there isn’t a strict limit on how many turns the game lasts. It goes until all the gifts are unwrapped.
Because the game is potentially more time-consuming, you might want to think about whether it’s appropriate for the size of your group and the amount of time you’ve allotted to your gift exchange. For smaller groups, it might be perfect because it stretches things out. For larger groups, you might want to consider something else.
How to Play
Once everyone is at the party and the gifts have been piled up, the game proceeds like this:
- The organizer passes out the gifts. There are different ways to assign gifts, but it doesn’t really affect the fairness of the game. Chance and strategic gift-stealing will ultimately determine who ends up with what gift. Still, if you want a simple and perfectly random method to assign gifts at the start, you could have each person hold any gift, roll the dice once, and have players pass their gifts that many spaces to the left.
- Players sit in a circle and roll dice to determine who goes first. Alternatively, you can draw numbers and have players sit in that order. However, rolling the dice is much simpler, especially for small groups. Re-roll to break any ties.
- The first player rolls the dice and does what the rules sheet says. Some dice results may give the player options for what to do (“swap your gift with anyone”) while others tell them what they must do (“unwrap your gift”). Some rolls could even dictate that everyone pass their gift in one direction.
- The game proceeds clockwise and each player takes a turn. In other words, each player rolls the dice and does what the cheat sheet says.
- The game ends when all gifts have been unwrapped. Whatever gift players are holding is the one they take home. Note that unlike other gift exchanges, players can take multiple turns. In fact, the game can go on and on if players don’t roll the numbers that allow them to open their gifts.
Dice Game Printables
Believe it or not, that’s just the framework for White Elephant with dice. The real substance of the game comes from the particular rules sheet you use. Yes, there’s a lot of variety even within this one variation of White Elephant.
Here’s an example of one rules sheet I’ve come up with for a game using one six-sided die. You can download and print this sheet by clicking on the image.
Here’s an alternative sheet for a game using two six-sided dice. As you can see, the game gets a little more chaotic and wacky.
Of course, there are lots of other possibilities. You can find a number of different gift exchange rules sheets online (some for purchase) or even come up with your own. I wanted to give you a running start on organizing your gift exchange dice game because helping people with their holiday gift swaps is – and I apologize in advance for this pun – just how I roll.