While it's important to read the rules and understand how the Yankee Swap Works, it might just not be enough if you have never played the game. If you want to know how to play Yankee Swap gift exchange, the best way is to just jump in and play, and the second best way is to observe others. The problem is that if you just watch others play - you will miss out on the game and have to wait till next year or another Yankee Swap party. How is that any good?
What if we were to stage a mock game play and pretend there was a group playing? Then we could go step by step and see what happens as different rules are applied to the swap. It will be just like watching a group get together and exchange presents.
Here Is An Example
A group of coworkers at a small office decide to do a Yankee Swap before Christmas, so one of them, Kathy, decides to be the organizer and puts the plan in action. Everyone RSVPS and there are 8 people expected to come to the exchange. The organizer finds out what would be the best day to have the party by asking coworkers about their availability. It is decided that the last Friday before Christmas would work best so agreement is reached.
Kathy puts together simple set of rules and emails them to everyone. The rules include: Everyone brings a wrapped gift. Gifts must be purchased within $20-$25 budget. The theme is GAG gifts and it will be adults only party so embarrassing and/or funny gifts are allowed. She sends everyone the rules and the date is set. Additional rules indicate that there will be a 3 minute power swap timer at the end of the game. Arrangements are made for everyone to chip in with a dish for potluck, so that there are various tasty foods and treats at the party.
On Thursday, Kathy reminds everyone about the party next day. This way it is less likely that anyone will forget to come or to buy a gift. On Friday, everyone shows up with a gift and the treats. When the work day is over, the meeting room table gets filled with all the different food. Kathy brings a bowl and puts folded pieces of papers that have numbers written on them from 1 to 8. Everyone picks out a number and the order is determined.
Gifts are placed in the middle of the table and everyone sits at the table in order. First player opens a gift. Second player opens the second gift. Third player opens the third gift. Fourth player decided to steal the gift from first player. now the first player has to steal another gift or open an unopened one, but can not steal back the gift that was stolen from them immediately. First player decided to open yet another gift.
This continues until all the gifts are opened. When there are no more wrapped presents left, Kathy sets the timer and mandatory swap/steal begins. When the timer ends, everyone ends up with the gift they are holding.