Yankee Swap is a gift exchange game in which the recipient of each gift is undetermined until the end of the game. Participants choose gifts in sequence; each player has the option of opening a new gift or stealing an opened gift from another player. Gifts can be practical or gag gifts, but the game is most fun when players fight over gifts. Some gifts can change hands several times.
Lottery tickets are fun Yankee Swap gifts because the value of the gift is unknown until the end of the game. When a player removes the gift wrap to reveal the lottery tickets inside, make sure he doesn't scratch any of the tickets. When you wait to scratch the tickets, no one will know how much the tickets are worth; they could be worth $5 or $500. The hope of winning a lot of money will inspire game participants to steal the lottery tickets rather than opening a new gift. Yankee Swap games have set price limits for gifts, usually between $15 and $20. If the limit is $20, purchase 20 different $1 scratch-off lottery tickets and wrap them in a large box to keep the contents a mystery until it is unwrapped.
Adults will especially enjoy a Yankee Swap game with a retro toy in the mix, because these toys are nostalgic items from their childhoods. Give a set of classic marbles or jacks. Perhaps you can get your hands on retro action figures like the Evil Knievel stunt doll, Maco Superman doll, Dukes of Hazzard characters or original 12-inch GI Joes. Original Matchbox cars were a big hit 20 years ago as well, and are sure to be a hit in your gift exchange. Other nostalgic items include the Snoopy snow-cone maker, Stretch Armstrong doll and classic board games. These items can be very expensive in the original packaging because they are collectors' items, but you may be able to find used toys at thrift stores or from online auction websites.
Gift baskets make attractive Yankee Swap gifts because they include several items and can be arranged around any theme. Bring a gift basket full of home-baked treats and hot cocoa mix. A wine and cheese gift basket is sure to be a hit among wine lovers. Movie-themed gift baskets may spark some competition when they hold items such as a new DVD, microwave popcorn, Classic Coke drinking glasses and popular movie theater candy. Women may enjoy stealing a spa or cosmetics gift basket from their friends. Men may covet a gift basket of simple tools. If your Yankee Swap game is for adults, a gift basket of cocktail items could include a bottle of liquor, coordinating mixer, drinking glass and cocktail foods such as mixed nuts and olives.