Neha Patil (Editor)

The Perfect Present

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Publisher(s)  Mega Brands
Age range  12 and up
Playing time  30-60 minutes
Players  3-10
Setup time  1 minute
Random chance  Medium
The Perfect Present

The Perfect Present is a party game about giving and receiving both realistic and imaginary gifts.


Each of the over 750 cards is a unique gift that people may desire in life. The gifts range from materialistic (a hot tub, a personal servant) to aspirational (be president, be fluent in all languages) to selfless (world peace, cure cancer) to fantastic (turn invisible, converse with animals, no more bad drivers) to ridiculous (a pack of tiny dogs, fruitcake).

The object of the game is to figure out which of these gifts from your hand another player would most like, and being rewarded when you give the best gift.


Each player is dealt seven cards to keep in their hand. These are potential gifts and they should be kept secret from other players. Each player is also given one challenge card. The dealer deals out eight more cards, face-up, in the center. This is the "Gift Mart". The remaining cards are left in the draw box.

Players choose someone to go first; this person is the "gift receiver". All other players choose a gift from their hand they think the gift receiver would want most, and place it face-down in front of the receiver. When everyone has given a gift, the receiver mixes them up, and flips them over one by one. The receiver reads each gift allowed, and must choose one to keep—an entirely personal decision based on what the receiver likes most. The receiver keeps the gift in their "loot pile", a collection of accumulated gifts displayed in front of the player. The rejected gifts are discarded.

The loot pile represents score. The number of cards in a player's loot pile is that player's score: this means a receiver will always get a point on their turn.

The player that gave the chosen gift reveals him or herself, and is then rewarded by getting to choose a gift from the Gift Mart for their own loot collection, thus also scoring a point. The first player to have a loot pile of 7 or more gifts wins. (Note that if you only need one point to win, you cannot receive gifts, and instead may discard as many cards as you want and draw new ones; the exception is if everyone needs only one point to win, in which case you can receive a gift for the win.)

If nobody has won, players refill their hands to seven cards, and refill the Gift Mart to eight cards. Play rotates clockwise, giving the next person a chance to receive gifts.

Each player has one challenge card. If a player feels their gift should have been chosen, but it wasn't, they can spend their challenge card and describe to everyone why their gift should have been chosen. The player of the chosen gift gets a rebuttal. Then all players vote to determine whose gift actually gets chosen.

Twice during the game (at any point) a player may discard up to 3 cards and draw new ones in attempt to find better gifts to give.

Also, if all players agree, the Gift Mart can be discarded and refreshed twice during the game.

After the game ends, players are encouraged to look at everyone's gifts and decide who has the coolest stuff, and to look for trends in everyone's chosen gifts.


  • 2003: The Perfect Present was designed by Raymond Mazza as a final project for a game design class offered by Carnegie Mellon's Master of Entertainment Technology graduate program. In brainstorming for a game and its theme, Mazza decided to list everything that people like or would like in the world. When the list wouldn't stop growing, he decided to make a game about all of those things. These each turned into a gift card. Inspiration for play style came from the award-winning game Apples to Apples. Mazza submitted a prototype to Out of the Box Publishing.
  • 2004: The Perfect Present is met with interest by Out of the Box Publishing, but is ultimately not taken on. Mazza sends the game to Rehtmeyer, Inc., for review and marketplace guidance.
  • 2005: The Perfect Present is entered in the KublaCon game conference's game design contest under the name Loot ( which is currently the name of a different game). It receives acclaim from the judges and wins 2nd place. The contest typically recognizes strategy games. Rehtmeyer, Inc., becomes Mazza's agent and represents The Perfect Present to publishers.
  • 2006: Mega Brands licenses The Perfect Present and develops it further.
  • 2007: The Perfect Present is released in stores.
  • References

    The Perfect Present Wikipedia

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