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How To Play Christmas Grab Bag

Updated on December 13, 2014

A Fun & Affordable Christmas Game To Play With Family & Friends !!!

Christmas! A time of gift giving, spending time with friends and family & just an all around joyous time!

A lot of families like to play games when they gather together for holidays & parties. This game, I will be talking about, is a family favorite that my family & I play every Christmas Eve. I'm sure you're going to love it! It's a mystery game that involves wrapped presents!!! Need I Say More......

Chances are you might be familiar with this game, and you might even be playing it a different way, or you may have never heard of it altogether! I think you'll really like it and want to play it this year when you and your family spend Christmas together. It's even a game that doesn't have to be just played once a year for Christmas!

Photo Credit: Marc Storm

*That's a picture of our Christmas Tree last year.

If you haven't decorated for Christmas or Winter yet, I've also put together a new page, full of decorating pictures & ideas: Christmas & Winter Decorating Ideas 2014

A Great Way To Spend Christmas Eve!

Our Family Traditions

Every Christmas Eve, my family & I gather together and enjoy each others company. We munch on snacks that are usually prepared by my mom.....cheese & crackers, deli meats, some great homemade Christmas cookies and we drink some sparkling, non-alcoholic wine beverages.

(Those drinks must be high in caffeine and sugar because they sure make you feel a little tipsy and energetic lol)

As the evening gets later we're almost ready to give each other our presents.(playful impatience born out of sheer happiness to see their faces light up and to finally put to rest the longings of waiting to give them their presents, that we've bought or made for them!).

We always exchange gifts that we have for each other on Christmas Eve & even save some for the next day when we gather again to celebrate the official Christmas Day.

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*(Hungry for Christmas Cookies? Check out these next selections of cookies, sold on eBay!)

Great Christmas Cookies To Order On eBay - Homemade Christmas Cookies To Order Online

There's nothing quite like some Christmas cookies to munch on, while you enjoy some quality time with family & friends. eBay makes it easy for you when ordering homemade cookies! Although! It is fun to make some, get the kids involved. Don't have the time? Then why not just order some.....

They even sell Girl Scout Cookies! perfect for any time of the year...

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My mom & dad also have a lot of presents, for us, wrapped and under the tree, addressed from Santa!(Old traditions are great!) Each present's label card has some funny one liner written on it. Maybe a play on words with whatever item might be inside, something Christmas related or our own inside family jokes we have with each other... which is why we always read the "to and from" cards on the presents before tearing into them, to have a good laugh first.

But before we get to exchanging gifts with one another on Christmas Eve, we always play a family favorite game. A game that we've played for as long as I can remember.

Sometime during our group discussions someone would usually say,

"Who's Ready For Grab Bag?" Everyone of course!

It's a fantastic game and so easy to put together!

Let's get started on learning how it all works and how to play, shall we?........

Everyone Loves Presents!!!

Step #1. Getting The Grab Bag Ready

Grab Bags Are An Easy Concept

The First Step Is:

#1. Finding items for your grab bag presents!

We usually go to our local Dollar Stores or check a store's kids toys section for ideas. You can put anything in your grab bags. Anything ranging from funny or absurd to awesome or cool. Over the years we've seen some items as dull & as funny as rocks and even something as smelly as socks. There have even been some big cash prizes! $20's, $50's or even a $100 Bill! and even as low as change in the form of pennies, lol.

There have even been food items. Canned goods, boxes of rice or noodles.

Sometimes people have put in some tastefully, tasteless, products like hemorrhoid cream and other funny products. Just remember that if there are kids playing, to not be too risque".

Kids & grown-ups, alike, enjoy this game. I mean who doesn't love getting extra presents with an added game aspect, to win them.

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Grab Bag Gift Ideas.....

The best and worst thing about playing grab bag is that there are usually gag gifts in the mix. You should try to think of some really great gifts to put in the grab bag. There are many ideas to choose from... Maybe a toy, like a Slinky, or cash money or food or a rock(lol!) or anything you want to put in it. You could even go to a dollar store and pick up some inexpensive goodies. Just have fun with the ideas!

BigMouth Inc. The Original Toilet Mug – Hilarious 12 oz Ceramic Coffee Cup in the Shape of a Toilet – Perfect for Home or Office, Makes a Great Gag Gift for All Ages
BigMouth Inc. The Original Toilet Mug – Hilarious 12 oz Ceramic Coffee Cup in the Shape of a Toilet – Perfect for Home or Office, Makes a Great Gag Gift for All Ages
Yeah, that's gross & funny. Check out the extra pictures for the item and ideas on Amazon. You can put other things in it if you don't want to use it for coffee, like candles, plants, candy....

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So come up with some great ideas for grab bag gifts and pile them up. Figure out how many you need based on how many people are playing. I would say if there are 10 people you should try and have at least 30-40 items, but you could always use less.

*Later when I show you how it's played you'll see why you might want to have more or just the bare minimum, rather than less. But if the money is tight then just go with what you can.

The bare minimum of items/presents should be around 5 items for each person that will be playing, to make it fun. Depending on how big or small you plan on going. You could even have each visiting relative contribute gifts to the mix, so everyone can play and keep the mystery of what they're playing for, a surprise. Especially, since the person knowing what the gifts are, and has wrapped them, can't really play with the mystery aspect.(Later I'll tell you how the person choosing the grab bag gifts can play as well, and still have it be a surprise for them, as for what's in each present.)

Step #2. Wrapping Presents!

The Second Step Is:

#2. Wrap the Grab Bag presents!

Now wrap you're presents and label the boxes as Grab Bag, so that way you don't forget which ones are which. Just don't label what's inside. The game is built around mystery, as you'll learn when I show you how to play it. So when you wrap the presents up you want to make it so that someone can't figure out what it is.

Find random boxes that are plain square shaped or even extreme shaped so that it adds more intrigue. One shape that's always in the mix for us is wrapping it like a Tootsie Roll, twisted ends. We've even used long cylinder shaped tubes that posters come in. It makes people wonder what the heck could be in there that's so thin and long. Kids love the wonder if it all.

Also, if an item that you're using for the grab bag makes noise, you might want to find a way to pack it in without it making noise....or you could keep it so that it does make noise, to present even more of a mystery. Players will end up shaking the present to hear what it might be, generally people tell them not to. lol

Now that you have all your presents wrapped and accounted for, the next thing is....... Learning how to play the game.........

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Christmas Wrapping Paper On eBay

eBay is a wonderful resource for buying wrapping paper in bulk at a great price....

Just remember to please recycle the paper after you open any and all presents!

Step #3. Learning How to Play The Game

The Third Step Is:

#3. Learning How To Play The Game!

It's a very simple game!

Now that you have the presents wrapped and are assured of having family & friends to play the game with........

The last two things, needed to play the game, are:

2 Decks of Playing Cards

Put all the Grab Bag presents in a pile in the middle of the room that you plan on playing in. Shuffle up one of the deck of cards and pass one card out to each player until you run out of all the cards. Then shuffle the other deck and turn it upside down and pick the top card and read it aloud. When someone has that card, they hand in their card and grab a present from the pile.

Now, when the presents from the pile run out, people can then start picking presents that others have already taken from the pile, from their own accumulated stash. Some people will then end up competing for the same present, if they really want it, back and forth until one of them runs out of cards or moves onto someone else's gifts. You can even choose, if you want, to be able to have people take presents from each other from the start of the game, anytime they want. That's what we do, we take presents from anyone's pile(when our card is called), anytime during the game, even before the main, open for anyone, pile is gone.

Also, keep an eye out for people who might be hiding some of their grab bag presents(Cheaters! lol), under, behind or near them, so that you can't see them and take them lol.

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Game Over

So once everyone's cards run out, hence no more cards to call out either, then it's time to open your presents you won and see what you got!

Hopefully some people weren't too stingy and didn't take all of your presents and left you with nothing to open. So just be fair and try and leave some people with a fair amount of presents.

That's how the game goes! I hope you give it a try! It's a really fun game and my family plays it every year. I wonder if anyone reading this already plays this game. Leave me a comment if you enjoyed this article on a rare game to play on Christmas Eve & if you have any games that you play on the different holidays.

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How To Play The Game If You're The Buyer/Wrapper

Ok, so I thought about a great way that the person who does the grab bag gift buying can finally play the game too!

Generally, the person who buys the items and then wraps them can't play the game because the whole mystery element is gone for them because they know what gift is in each present.

The idea I came up with is... Now, in order for that person(the main gift buyer) to play the game, what they should do is put each gift in a box and tape it up, but don't wrap it yet! Then, give those taped up boxes, full of gifts, to someone else to place in another box and then wrap them. That way no one knows what's in each box, then you can play too! No more just calling cards and sitting on the sidelines, watching everyone have fun getting gifts!

An Expensive Grab Bag Gift Game Idea

A really cool grab bag gift idea is to have all the presents be expensive gifts that are the real type presents for everyone, preferably items that everyone would love having, money or electronics etc. or put gift ideas in, that some want and others don't, then they can exchange with the person who wants it lol

Maybe have it where there's enough gifts for each person, 1 per person because if they're expensive gifts then you can't spend a fortune getting more than 1 for each person, or maybe you can?

Also, if you don't want to play this game and want to exchange gifts in a fun way, just do a random drawing(Secret Santa type Game), way before Christmas, names in a hat. 1 person buys a gift for 1 person, hopefully you'll have an even number of people, so that no one has to buy gifts for 2 people. It's up to you if you want people to know who's getting the gift for who, so that way they can tell the person who is getting them a gift, ideas on what they want. You can either set a spending limit or not, some people could get moody or upset if they spent more and didn't get more, whoever does, needs to curb that ungrateful attitude lol

More ideas for games to play? like this one and not like this one, keep reading this page, there are more down bottom...

Snakes In A Can Gag Gift
Snakes In A Can Gag Gift

More Great Grab Bag Gift Ideas

Need some more great grab bag gift ideas?

Some of the best ideas are funny ones! One that's always been a hit, that we've used on different groups of people, is to put in one of the mystery boxes, a tube of hemorrhoid cream haha, that always gets a good reaction!

Just try and be creative and think what else might be hilarious, a funky old sock, nothing but a note saying "you should've picked a different box" LoL

A really, really great idea is to get a "snakes in a can" to really give them a funny scare! Make sure you have your video camera rolling before they open it(remember which box it's in).

Here's a really great snakes in a can gag gift...

Hepkat Provisioners Nibbles Yummy Potato Chips Snake Can
Hepkat Provisioners Nibbles Yummy Potato Chips Snake Can
I love this snakes in a can gag! The snakes in a can are usually a food can, jelly beans, potato chips or mixed nuts lol They're usually shaped like the Pringles cans. This one, on the left, linked to Amazon is only $5 and has really great reviews.

More Christmas Games To Play.....

If you need some more ideas on holiday & Christmas games to play, here are some links to some more great ones, online and off.....

Links To Christmas Games To Play With Family & Friends:

#1. Christmas Family Party Games For All Ages & Groups

#2. Lots Of Christmas Party Game Ideas

#3. Christmas Games & Crafts

Links To Christmas Games To Play Online, Anytime:

#1. Fun Online Christmas Games To Play

#2. Christmas Games For Kids

#3. Even More Online Christmas Games

Just in case you haven't decorated for Christmas or Winter yet, here's a new page I made, full of ideas & pictures: Christmas & Winter Decorating Ideas 2014

I Love This Time Of Year!!!

More Great Grab Gifts & Games Ideas For Family, Friends & Co-Workers

If you need some more ideas for how to go about buying & giving gifts for everyone on your list, especially friends & co-workers, here are some novel ideas!:

~*~*Random Draw/Raffle Hat!*~*~

This one's a good idea....if you have an even number of people in your group then you can get some pieces of paper and write everyone's name down and then everyone takes a turn pulling a name out of the hat, and then that's who you buy a gift for. Just set a money spending limit for everyone or just let anyone buy what they can. All in all, it's a great idea! I can remember when I was in elementary school and the whole class had to do this. I can't for the life of me remember what I got from someone or even what I bought for someone.

32 Assorted Christmas Cards & Envelopes (Blank Inside)

"~*~*Greeting Cards With A Little Something Extra!*~*~

Back when I used to work at a different job, my boss handed out Christmas cards to everyone and inside were lottery tickets! I thought "Wow! That's an awesome idea!" It was too! I ended up winning more money on them than he had spent on the tickets - it was only like 15 bucks or so but it's still awesome! I think it's a wonderful idea! You could just buy a package of Christmas cards like the ones up above, through Amazon, and put some lottery tickets inside. Just make sure the person you're gifting them to, are at least 18.

~*~*Gag Gift Lottery Ticket Idea!*~*~

This idea is hilarious! You can either use it in the Grab Bag that I talked about earlier or in someone's specific Christmas card. You can buy fake lottery tickets that are winners to mess with someone! There are so many videos on Youtube(scroll down after you read this section to watch some! LOL) that capture people's reactions when thinking they've won, after scratching off their tickets. When they turn it over to read the info on how to get the money, the location is a bogus funny place that lets them know they've been had! What a riot! It's such a let down though, oh man! One minute you're on top of the world, telling your job that you quit, planning what to buy - all of these feelings, thoughts & emotions happening in a flash, a matter of seconds or minutes, and then Boom! Crash & Burn! It wasn't real and it stinks! lol but it was all in good fun, now get someone else with this gag!

Fake Lottery Ticket - Funny Reaction Videos On YouTube

Fake lottery ticket gag videos have been around for awhile...they've even shown them on America's Funniest Home Videos! *Yeah, that show is still on! I think it's still pretty funny. It's kind of like youtube but they pick the best videos that won't waste people's time because let's face it sometimes we waste our time coming across pointless, meaningless and uninteresting videos. We end up wishing we could have those minutes or seconds back!

Ok so here are two Youtube videos(that I've personally watched) of people getting tricked by the fake lottery ticket gag, by people they know. lol If you check youtube, there are more!

More Christmas Fun!!!

One thing I like to do is to look online for funny jokes to tell - for special occasions like holidays etc. There are loads of Christmas jokes online, that I've come across. Here are a few sites I've found that are worthy of sharing, just be forewarned, some of them have dirty jokes. If you want more jokes(clean or dirty) you'll have to do an internet search for them...Also! another great idea for funny stuff to look up is "Dirty Christmas Texts" lol

#1.'s Christmas Jokes There are a lot of dirty jokes mixed in with clean ones on this page. There are some pretty good jokes on there.

#2. Tons Of Jokes(One-Liners, Knock Knock's, Story Jokes, Songs & Quotes! I really like how they did their joke reveals on there. All you have to do is place your mouse cursor on the snowman picture, after each joke, and it reveals the answer! So cool!

#3. A Yahoo Question & Answer For "What Is A Really Funny Dirty Christmas Joke?" Someone asked a question on Yahoo asking for a really good Christmas joke and I liked one of the responses that someone put, be sure and check it out and there are also other people have asked the question if you care to search for those.

Gift Cards From Amazon

Gift cards are a great gift idea for anyone. Also, you can even buy them and put them in the grab bag, unless you want to just put cash money in, instead. Gift Card in a Greeting Card (Various Designs) Gift Card in a Greeting Card (Various Designs)
Amazon Gift Cards are a novel idea. You can send the gift cards in actual gift card form or even send them through emails or even print them out and give them to someone - check out their selection of options and designs for their gift cards at Amazon. These gift cards come with Free One-Day Shipping... you can't beat that!

Do You & Your Family Play Games On Christmas Eve?

See results

Playing Cards

You can't play this type of grab bag mystery game without playing cards. Don't forget, you need 2 decks!

Bicycle Blue Dragon Back Playing Cards
Bicycle Blue Dragon Back Playing Cards
Don't forget the playing cards if you don't have any, 2 decks are needed!

Play Some Games This Christmas!

Christmas Wrapping Paper, Tape, Ribbon & Bows On Amazon

You also can't wrap the grab bag gifts up without these necessary items.........Wrapping paper, ribbons, tape and name tags to specify that they are for grab bag and not for specific people's presents.

Merry Christmas!!!

Have you ever played this game?

Do you play any other games around Christmas time?

© 2014 MarcStorm LM

Are You Going To Play This Game? - Doesn't This Game Sound Like Fun?

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    • profile image


      14 months ago from delhi

      Great information for new guy like me. This shows not only particular heck but also give idea about. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      We don't. we are talking about playing this now lol. Blessed by a squid angel. Merry Christmas Marc x

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      There have even been some big cash prizes! likes $20's, $50's or even a $100 Bill.

    • annieangel1 profile image


      8 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      looks like fun to play on Christmas Eve which is actually my favourite part of the holiday.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      8 years ago from USA

      If I can gather up a few friends it would be fun. Don't have family around me at this time.

    • LisaDH profile image


      8 years ago

      I've never heard of this, but it sounds fun!

    • MarcStorm LM profile imageAUTHOR

      MarcStorm LM 

      8 years ago

      @Othercatt: That's funny! Last year I got some cool stuff. I got a slinky, play doh, an army guy action figure, fridge letters & number magnets, oh and a back scratcher!!! I do a great job of picking ones lol Year before that was 2 sheep, they were salt and pepper shakers, a mini rinky dink keychain flashlight & like a toy set of a little pirate with his dingy boat, little jugs of rum, sword, & oars lol I've forgotten some of the other ones I got though. Good Times!!!

    • Othercatt profile image


      8 years ago

      My family used to play this. My first year playing, everyone told me not to pick the biggest present because it was usually something old and rusty. I decided to pick the biggest anyway and was shocked when I unwrapped 3 beautiful china vases. Of course, the next year when I picked the biggest, I got an old rusty tricycle with only one wheel. lol

    • MarcStorm LM profile imageAUTHOR

      MarcStorm LM 

      8 years ago

      @tfsherman lm: That's a really good idea too! I could even see people play this game on their break or at the end of the day, if their office doesn't throw parties. They could even do it as an added game so that way they can still exchange gifts lol Everyone loves as many gifts as they can get! :oP

    • profile image

      tfsherman lm 

      8 years ago

      This might be a lot of fun at office parties too where they do present exchanges. It's a great idea.

    • MarcStorm LM profile imageAUTHOR

      MarcStorm LM 

      8 years ago

      @tfsherman lm: At this moment in family that gathers on Christmas Eve, to play this game, consists of about 10 of us, it used to be a lot more, but the other parts of our family that we used to all play with and gather with every year has dropped. That number used to bring us to about 20-25 or so. It's a really fun game and you should definitely give it a try! Best Wishes!

    • profile image

      tfsherman lm 

      8 years ago

      This sounds totally fun! Can you tell me how big your family is? Five people? Ten people?

    • MarcStorm LM profile imageAUTHOR

      MarcStorm LM 

      8 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Yeah, you should should definitely give the game a try this year. It's so easy to play and the gifts don't have to be expensive either! It's so much fun! ():o)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      This does sound like fun! Love the playing card aspect of the game. We have a small family (locally) but I really think we can have a blast with this. Thanks for the suggestions and the details! Merry Christmas in July!


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