1. Each guest who wishes to participate must contribute a gift. Everyone sits or stands in roughly a circle around the pile of gifts.
2. Prepare slips of paper equal to the number of gifts with clearly written numbers. Be sure to distinguish 6 from 9, 1 from 7. Each participating guest draws a number and holds onto that slip of paper.
3. On the first turn, the guest with paper slip #1 chooses a gift, opens it, and all admire it.
4. On the second turn, the guest with paper slip #2 gets the choice of “stealing” any unwrapped gift (#1′s) or choosing a wrapped one. If #2 steals #1′s gift, then #1 must open a wrapped gift.
5. On the third turn, the guest with paper slip #3 gets the choice of “stealing” any unwrapped gift (#1′s or #2′s) or choosing a wrapped one.
The game continues based on the following:
1. If a gift is stolen from you, you can steal a gift (within limits, described below), or open a wrapped one.
2. The turn proceeds until a wrapped gift is chosen.
3. A gift cannot be immediately stolen back from the guest who just stole it.
4. The fourth “owner” of a gift gets to keep it. The gift is “dead” after it has been stolen three times.
5. “Owners” of “live” gifts must keep them visible and hold them up when requested.
6. The gift exchange ends when the last wrapped gift is opened. Usually, guests are encouraged to perpetuate the gift stealing as long as there are “live” gifts, but no one is obligated to do this.
Have a Happy Holiday season!