Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Yankee Swap Best Practices {Brainstorm!}

Help Me Organize the Perfect Yankee Swap!

What works? What doesn't? What am I missing?


We're hosting Christmas for the first time this year, and we have decided to do a Yankee Swap. Neither Ben nor I have been involved in one before, and since {ahem} Ben wasn't particularly keen on doing it at all, I did my best to compile the "rules" for our families. But there seems to be one point of discussion (mostly among my siblings, who, let's face it, can be slightly argumentative... present company excluded, of course. LOL.), and I can't decide out what to do about it. 

So, here's the big question: Do we open the gifts as we go along (as I originally outlined, see below) OR do we wait until the end to open them?

Here are the rules I complied. Is this how you have played? Please interject (well, comment) with any mistakes, suggestions, or fun variations! What are the benefits/drawbacks to opening them as you go along? Potential pitfalls? Nightmare experiences?

Yankee Swap Rules

1. Every person brings a wrapped present to Christmas (just adults, I'll do something else for the kids). That means you and whoever you come with bring separate presents (e.g., Ben and I contribute different gifts, moms and dads bring different gifts) & gifts are placed together on a table when you arrive.
2. We draw numbers to determine who picks first (and the person who picks first also gets to pick last).
3. The person with the lowest number goes first. He or she chooses one of the wrapped presents, opens it, and takes it back to their seat with them.
4. Each person in order then gets to pick a present, open it and decide whether to KEEP IT or SWAP IT for any other open present (e.g., person #2 can steal person #1's gift, etc., ect...).
5. Whoever gets a gift taken from them must pick a new, unopened gift, but does not have the option to swap.
6. Opening/swapping continues until all presents have been opened. BUT, there is a 3-swap maximum; a present cannot be swapped more than 3 times. The third swap on any particular present is the last, and that person keeps it for good.
7. Lastly, the person who picked first gets to pick their choice from all of the open presents (unless a present has already met the 3-swap maximum).

So, what do you think? Do we open them as we play OR wait until the end? Is there a cool variation I'm missing? Is the three-swap rule a good one or too restricting?

I'd kinda like to avoid a situation like this one below!

Thanks for your help! I want to publish a finalized rule sheet next week, so any advice you can give me to help make this fun for everyone would be appreciated!

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  1. This sounds like what we call "white elephant" gifts. Hubby's office did this, and sometimes he got some cool stuff. My dad's office used to do this and there was always one nobody wanted that would be brought back every year as a joke. With a family, you may have better luck--hopefully! Sorry, I'm not much help. :) Dee

    1. Thanks, Dee! That's really funny about the recurring joke gift. Who knows what this year will bring--lots of different personalities in the group. Although I think the gift I'm bringing is pretty stellar!!

  2. We do this with my husband's family on Boxing Day. The only thing we do differently is that when it's your turn, you can steal from someone else or pick a wrapped gift but once you take a wrapped gift, you can't swap it.

  3. Thanks, Allison! That's actually very interesting... I like that rule a lot because it adds a fun twist! Psst... I have to admit, I actually had to look up "Boxing Day!" ;)

  4. I have been playing this since a kid. I like your rules which are the same as what we played. Yes you open while you go along. I do like the pick from the pile if someone takes from on second round. Also it is good for 3x' swap on one gift. But you might find this is to long with a lot of people. It does drag on a bit. So rethink how many times a gift can be exchanged. Have fun and it is fun to do. A lot of laughing and groaning.LOL

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! I wonder if 3x is too many? Maybe the limit should be 2x? There are a lot of us... probably 13 adults? Thanks for your comment--it's great to have input from someone with lots of experience! Merry Christmas!

  5. I kinda like the three-swap rule! Good one!

    Hi! Stopping by from Mom Bloggers Club.
    Have a nice day!

    1. Thanks, Veronica! I think we'll stick with that one!


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