Some people jump at the chance to participate in a White Elephant, Secret Santa, or similar Christmas gift exchange. But others? They’d rather pass.
Pass the gift, that is.
Gift passing games can take a lot of different forms, but the most familiar one involves a colorful Christmas-themed story or poem. These types of games are quick, low-pressure, and ideal for large groups. And if you’re the one running the show, the best news of all is that they’re dead-simple to set up.
How a Left-Right Christmas Game Works
As with other gift exchanges, each participant brings a wrapped gift of a value determined by the organizer ($10 or $20 is typical). The game begins with people sitting in a circle holding their own gifts. Then someone reads a poem or story with many occurrences of the words “left” and “right.” Participants follow these verbal cues, passing gifts to their left or right until the story ends and each person keeps the gift they’re holding.
The only “trick” here is to make sure gifts don’t wind up back in the hands of the people who brought them. To prevent this, you might want to count the number of lefts and rights in your story to figure where the gifts are going to wind up, based on how many people are in the circle. If you’re not sure how many players you will have, you can always reserve an optional line of the story in case the gifts find their way back home. For example: “And with that, there’s nothing LEFT but to open the gift you’re holding.”
A (Left-Right) Christmas Story
The only criteria for a left-right (or, if you prefer, right-left) Christmas story is that it contain lots of gift-passing cues. Of course, there are bonus points for stories that keep people amused while they pass their gifts. Here’s one example of a left-right story you can use for your party (click here for a print-friendly PDF version):
Of course, this is far from the only left-right Christmas story out there – I’ve linked to some other examples from the Resources page. If you have the time, you might even try making up your own story. That way, you can make it an inside joke about people and subjects that are well-known to the participants.
I hope this article has given you some ideas that are RIGHT for your next holiday gathering. Now there’s nothing LEFT for me to do but wish you luck, and a very Merry Christmas.