About Dirty Santa Exchange

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a Dirty Santa? Is it Kris Kringle that has not showered, or is it something more appropriate for a Valentines day rather than Christmas? Either way, Dirty Santa has nothing to do with unwashed or skimpy outfits, instead it's a holiday favorite, a gift exchange that brings the best and sometimes the worst in us as we steal gifts from eachother without skipping a beat!

What is the day that everyone eagerly awaits every year? The day when everyone gets creative to come up with funny gift ideas only to fight over them? The day when you can be very greedy? The day when you are not only allowed, but encouraged to steal?

If you said Dirty Santa gift exchange, you are correct and if you have never heard of it, don't worry, you are about to find out all about this festive game that takes place in December of each and every year all across the globe!

When friends, families and work coleagues get together to celebrate the holidays, it is customary to give each other gifts, but since it would be impossible for everyone to buy eachother a gift in large groups, a Christmas gift exchange tradition is born, where everyone brings a single gift and then steals and swaps other peoples gifts for fun and joy. If you are organizing or going to a Dirty Santa party this year, it will be helpful to find out all about this yearly tradition, including the origins, rules and variations as well as some tips and advice on how to successfully host the party or how to go home with the best gift!

History Of Dirty Santa

Like every other tradition, Dirty Santa has it's origins. Surprisingly, this modern tradition has roots in ancient times and combines traditions of Christmas gift giving as well as customs that are completely foreign to us and lost in time.

Let's explore this holiday tradition and it's roots that is linked to not only Christmas gift giving customs, but also an interesting practice in ancient Siam. Read more about the origins here!

What Is Dirty Santa?

It's makes sense to wonder, what exactly is Dirty Santa? Is it the party? Is it the game or the person bringing and stealing a gift? Fair questions indeed, and the answer is: all of them! Not only you is the party itse'f a Dirty Santa party where the Dirty Santa game is played, you also are the Dirty Santa yourself if you are participating.

Why? Think about it: You are bringing a gift - therefore you are the Santa. And your intention is to walk away with some of the best gifts that other Santas bring, not by asking nicely, but rather by stealing! That makes you Dirty! So this is why you are a Dirty Santa, going to a Dirty Santa party to play the Dirty Santa game!

Organizing Dirty Santa Party

The fact that the Dirty Santa party will be held, means someone needs to organize it. Make no mistake, planning the Dirty Santa correctly is absolutely crutial, because guest will need to know when and where to arrive, what to bring and how the game is played.

As the party planner it will be your responsibility to let all the participants know about the Dirty Santa exchange, how it works and what your rules are going to be. They will need to know the theme of gifts allowed into the party, as well as maximum spending limits, how to play the game and other rules that apply.

With the right guide it will be easy to follow the steps and have everything work out perfectly! Also don't forget that there are ways to encourage guests to bring better gifts.

How To Play This Game

Every Dirty Santa gift exchange will follow certain rules, be it the basic rules or the modification that makes it more fun or unique, but regardles of the rules set by the organizer, you will want to know how to play dirty santa, and the best way to learn is to look at an example game.

Most people have better time understanding games rules by observation. Have a look at some examples of how to play dirty santa, this will make it so much easy to understand the flow of the game and get you ready to play yourself. Go over the example after reading the rules:

Dirty Santa Rules & Variations

There are some basics when it comes to Dirty Santa gift exchange rules, but there are also lots of fun variations out there. You are free to choose the variation you want to apply to your partivular rules, as well as come up with fun alternatives on your own!

Keep in mind, the game can get pretty fisty, so it's important to have very clearly defined rules to avoid any confusion or hurt feelings. Folks can get very territorial when it comes to playing Dirty Santa and well set out rules will keep everyone in check!

Dirty Santa Winning Strategy

We often get asked: Can I wil Dirty Santa? How can I walk away with the gift that I want? Is there a Dirty Santa strategy that I can employ?

While lot of the game play is left to change, there are a few things you can do to influence outcome in your favor. It does not always work, depending on the circumstances, but it's definitely worth a shot. Have a look at the winning strategy section for some ideas!

Dirty Santa Gifts & Themes

There is no Dirty Santa party wihtout Dirty Santa gifts. That's a fact. If you are going to a gift exchange party, you will need to bring a present. But what are the best Dirty Santa gifts? How much should you spend? What makes a perfect Dirty Santa present? Can you get away with spending less? Find answers and gift ideas in out gifts section.

If you are organizing a Dirty Santa, you might want to set a gift theme as part of the rules. What is a gift theme? Well, instead of everyone bringing any gift in from any possible category, you can set the rule for eveyone to bring a similar item. An example would be "Funny Books". This way everyone knwos what to expect and it may be a bit easy for everyone to pick out a gift. Have a look at our list of Dirty Santa themes.

Few Gifts

More Gift Ideas


What Is Dirty Santa?

Dirty Santa is a Christmas gift exchange game where guest swap and steal random gifts.

Can only 3 players play?

Yes, 3 players could play it but it works better in larger groups, more the merrier.

What's a good date to hold a party?

It's recommended to run a Dirty Santa in mid December, but the best date is the one majority can attend.

What is the most important Dirty Santa rule?

If someone steals a gift from you, you can not immediately steal the same one back. Otherwise you'd get stuck in a never ending stealing loop.