Justin Tadlock

Christmas dice game

Cardboard paper dice with two index cards stacks, one reading 'Dare' and the other reading 'Truth'.

There’s an ongoing joke about that one drunk uncle everyone must tolerate during the holidays at family gatherings. Everyone has one of these, right? Now, imagine playing a game where said uncle was forced to prance like a reindeer across the living room floor to exchange gifts during a thrilling gift-swap game.

Or, imagine your sister having to pretend to be Santa riding in his sleigh until someone guessed who she was and what she was doing. What a way to get some revenge on a sibling. :)

Enter the holiday-gift-swap-dice game with a bit of truth or dare thrown in the mix (credit to The Dating Divas for the game idea).

Fortunately, my uncle wasn’t drunk this year, but that made it all the much better. As he hit a 5-spot on the die, he pulled the first “dare” card, which read, “Prance like a reindeer to someone across the room and swap gifts with them.” Having him perform the feat completely sober was as good a Christmas gift anyone could ask for.

The game was a huge success with my family. I don’t think we’ve all laughed that much as a group in years.

How to play the game

Everyone must bring a gift that is suitable for all participants. We kept our limit around $10. These gifts are placed in the middle of the room. The game begins by having everyone choose a [wrapped] gift and going back to their seats.

Then, someone gets to roll the die (doesn’t matter who starts—oldest, youngest, etc.). Everyone takes turns rolling, going in a clockwise direction. The game ends after every gift has been opened and everyone has had an equal number of rolls.

When you roll, here’s a list of the possible actions, depending on the number you hit:

  1. Everyone pass their gift to the left.
  2. Everyone pass their gift to the right.
  3. Swap your gift with anyone of your choosing.
  4. Pick a “Truth” card.
  5. Pick a “Dare” card.
  6. Open your gift. If already opened, choose someone else to open theirs.

You may need to make adjustments for your crowd. We had 10 people and went 4 rounds.

The die

I created a single, 6-inch die from scrap cardboard, printer paper, and tape. This made it big enough for everyone to see without having to stand around the table. But, it was small and light enough to toss around the room.

I don’t recommend normal dice for this, especially in a big crowd. You could also pick up some of them fuzzy dice. I wasn’t able to find those in town and opted to make my own.

Truth cards

I created 10 truth cards. These were more along the lines of the “have you ever” drinking game. Except for taking a drink, you stand and swap gifts with the others who have done the same. Some examples:

  • If you’ve ever re-gifted a gift…
  • If you’ve watched a Hallmark Christmas movie this year…

Dare cards

The dare cards were a fun mix of things. The end result of a dare card should be for someone to open a gift or exchange a gift with someone.

We had some charades like:

  • Pretend to be Santa riding his sleigh. Person to guess can open their gift.
  • Pretend to catch a snowflake on your tongue. Person to guess can open their gift.

We also had dares like having someone hum their favorite Christmas song or have each person in the group guess someone’s favorite Christmas movie. There’s a lot of fun that can be had with this.

One downside to this for our group was that a few of the older people cannot read. So, I had to limit cards mostly to things that I could read aloud to the group. For things like charades, I only passed those cards to people who could read.

I also ran out of dare cards before the game was over. I’d made 10, but people kept hitting 5 on the die. I’ll need to make more next year.

A twist for next year

Next year, I’ll likely replace truth cards with question/trivia cards where you get to open your gift if you answer the question correctly. I had a few of these mixed in with the dares this year, and they were more fun. For example:

  • Best Christmas movie: Die Hard.
  • Best romantic Christmas movie: Serendipity.

Loads of fun

All in all, I think everyone had a good time. All of the gifts were pretty fun. Some of the things we got in the $10 range were:

  • One yard of Snickers bars.
  • Two cans of holiday popcorn.
  • Cheap DVDs.
  • A case of 20 oz. sodas.
  • And more…

One of the main reasons I mixed it up this year is that everyone in previous years of playing white elephant were too nice. Most people rarely “stole” a gift from someone else if they thought the person liked what they had. This year, the choice was taken out of their hands. With this method, no gift is safe until the game ends, so you never know what you’ll end up with.