Just tell everyone joining your party to bring an item or two that is either used, or unused but not needed anymore. The item should be something that may still be useful to someone. The item should be wrapped, preferably using old newspaper/magazine.
During the party, the gifts are placed together and the participants gather around them. Numbers will be assigned to everyone by drawing lots.
The one who has number 1 gets to pick a gift first. He/she opens the gift and shows it to everyone. The person who gets number 2 goes next and chooses to do either one of the following: get a gift from the lot and open it OR "steal" the first person's gift. If the gift is "stolen" from the first person, he can then take a new gift and open it. The third person will then choose to get an unopened gift or "steal" the gift from person 1 or 2. The person whose gift got "stolen" can choose to get an unopened gift or "steal" another gift. This process goes on until all gifts are opened. "Stealing back" from the person who "stole" the gift is not allowed.
There are many variations to this game but it is best to set a limit to the number of times a gift can be "stolen." Rolling of dice can be used instead of drawing lots. There can be different rounds with a time limit, especially if there are people who brought more than one gift.
The "stealing" of gifts definitely adds excitement to the game and helps ensure that the one who is "stealing" really wants the gift. Everything is done in the spirit of fun! And, of course, the game is also an easy and eco-friendly way for people to give new life to old and unwanted items!
Have a fun-filled Christmas!
This article was first published in the December 2010 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.