Personal Blog

Let’s Talk About Dirty Santa: How To Play And When To Cry

I’m 33 years old and last week was the first time I ever played ‘Dirty Santa’. Both my husband and my mother have been playing this games for years at work, but I just never had the opportunity.Well, during this month’s Bunko meet up, we got down to business – and I practically had an anxiety attack!

LOL! Have you ever played ‘Dirty Santa’ before? Basically everyone in the room picks a number and you each open up a present following the order. BUT if someone doesn’t want to open up a new present, they can STEAL one that’s opened already.

SO if you opened a present and loved it, it might not be yours to keep. You have to just hope and pray no one takes it from you. FORGET IT – I was like convulsing in my seat. Dirty Santa indeed!!

There were 12 girls that night and I wound up with number 11. So only two people could steal from me and thankfully they didn’t because I really liked the necklace I picked.

Here’s the rundown of ‘Dirty Santa’ rules in case you want to give it a try this holiday season.

  • Everyone brings a gift valued at X. We say $25.
  • Write a number for each person that’s playing and fold the papers. One at at time go around the room allowing people to choose their order.
  • Number 1 goes first and cannot steal anything. They open up a gift and wait.
  • Number 2 goes and can either steal number 1’s gift OR open up a new one.
  • Number 3 goes and can steal from 1 or 2 if they like. Or they can choose a new one.
  • Continue the sequence until everyone has a gift.
  • A gift cannot be stolen more than 3 times. So if a pair of earrings is stolen 3 times, that item then becomes safe and remains with the last thief.
  • If you have an item stolen you just pick a new one.
  • Number 1 at the end of the game can either steal a gift that hasn’t be stolen 3 times or keep their own gift.

Here’s the thing… if your gift doesn’t get stolen you feel kind of funny. If you get a gift stolen from you it can be upsetting. Maybe I’m just sensitive since it was my first time playing. But I was sweating the whole time – I’m serious! LOL!

Do you play ‘Dirty Santa’? What do you think about the game? I will play again if asked, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. I understand it’s just a game, but seriously it was intense. LOL!!!!

Vera Sweeney, mom, blogger, social media influencer and New York resident, is the founder of She is considered one of the top female digital influencers in today’s social media space. Her lifestyle and parenting brand helps busy women stay on top of the latest trends in fashion, food, family and travel.


  1. we do this every Christmas at work…’s lots of fun…sometimes you get the lemon:)

  2. We also play it every year at work. It’s a lot of fun and yes you definitely get the lemon sometimes.

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