When are ugly socks and a gift card more than just the usual humdrum presents? When you go beyond Dirty Santa to up your Christmas party game.

Cheer exchange

The host picks a series of criteria, such as who all has finished their shopping or who will be having Christmas dinner with family. Those people stand up and swap presents. The nest group will stand and exchange presents. After someone has swapped they no longer need to stand. The game continues until everyone has a present.

Hot potato

Depending on how large the party is, this game could get tedious. Guests are arranged in a circle while a present is hand to the person at the head of the circle. A Christmas carol is played for a short duration. The present is passed to the person on the right until the music stops. For variation, have one present going right, one left and keep the music upbeat.

Gift auction 

Use Monopoly money to allow guests to bid on the present they want most. This game works best with larger groups.

 Dice exchange

Guests bring a wrapped present. The game begins with guests with their presents. Follow the pictured suggestion to exchange, keep or open the gift. Continues playing until everyone has a present. 

 Find the Pickle

If you’ve ever wondered about that pickle ornament with a Santa hat, the strange custom of putting veggies on a Christmas tree comes from Germany around the turn of the century.

According to Tampa Bay Magazine, a German emigrant, John Lower, was captured by the South during the Civil War. In ill health, he convinced his guard to give him one pickle before he died.   The guard relented and Lower didn’t die (I don’t think the two are related). Still, Lower upon returning home following the war, commemorated his luck by hiding a pickle on the family’s Christmas tree. Thus a tradition was born.

Whether the Lowers hid real pickles on their tree is unknown, but German glass blowers began crafting ornaments shaped like fruits, nuts and the likes around 1847, and Woolworth began stocking them stateside in the 1880s. Interestingly, while the custom is of German-American origin, according to the story, not vary many people in Germany have heard of the tradition.

To play, a pickle ornament is hidden somewhere on the tree. The child first to spot the ornament, receives an extra present, along with good luck for the next year.

Incidentally, Berrien Springs, Mich. is self-proclaimed the pickle capitol of the world with its own Christmas pickle festival and a pickle throwing contest. The biggest winner tossed his pickle a record 292 feet.    


 

John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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