The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


November 28, 2007

‘Stealing’ gifts in ‘Dirty Santa’ game can be loads of fun for family and friends

The Christmas spirit consists of peace, love and goodwill to all.

Dirty Santa consists of peace, love, goodwill and stealing.

The gift game is popular among large families, circles of friends and groups of co-workers.

The basic principle is that each person buys only one gift and exchanges it for another gift during the gathering.

The game is also known as, Take Away, Rob a Santa, Cut-Throat Christmas and a wide variety of politically incorrect names.

The game, though based on playfully “stealing” from one another, still manages to preserve the Christmas spirit.

Fellowship and laughs are almost a guarantee, and the game saves everyone a little money during a commercialized-season.

Rules to the game come with as many variations as names. The online site,, explains one of the simplest versions of the game:


•Any number of people over four can play. Large groups are best. Each participant is asked to bring a gift worth no more than a few dollars. (The unwritten rule of the game is that the gifts are not bought but are items that one finds lying around the house or the garage, things that are valuable but for which you have found no use. However, some groups set a price limit.)

• Each player picks a number from a hat and according to his or her number gets a crack at picking a gift. (For example, if there are 15 people playing, numbers 1 through 15 are placed in the hat.)

• The person who picks the first gift opens it and shows it to the rest of the company. Then, No. 2 picks a gift and, after unwrapping it, either keeps it or swaps it with No. 1.

• The game goes on until everyone has had a chance. No. 1 gets to either keep his or her original gift or swap it with anything else they like.

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