12 Days Rules

12 Days Rules

3-5 players/15 minutes/8+ years

Celebrate the spirit of Christmas with 12 Days! Inspired by the iconic Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas," players will earn points by giving and receiving the classic holiday gifts of true love, and by winning the days of Christmas. At the end of this Christmas celebration, the player with the most points wins!


92 playing cards:
80 Gift Cards

  • 12 drummers drumming
  • 11 Pipers piping
  • 10 Lords a-leaping
  • 9 Ladies dancing
  • 8 Maids a-milking
  • 7 Swans a-swimming
  • 6 Geese a-laying
  • 5 Golden rings
  • 4 Colly birds
  • 3 French hens
  • 2 Turtle doves
  • 1 Partridge in a pear tree
  • 1 Santa Claus
  • 1 Mrs. Claus

In the Gift card deck, the number on the card indicates the card's value and how many potential bonus points the card may be worth at the end of the game. It's also the number of times the card appears within the deck, with the exception of the two Claus cards, which are numbered 0.

12 Holiday Cards

The Holiday deck contains 12 numbered Day cards; one for each of the 12 rounds of the game.

Deal Twelve Gifts

Place out the order days

Arrange the Holiday deck in numerical order, with the first day of Christmas on top. Place the Holiday deck face up next to the Gift deck. 12 Days is played over 12 rounds called "days." On each day, play is simultaneous. 

Sequence of Play

On each day, all players:

1. Pass one Gift card to the left;
2. Play a Gift card to try to win the day; and
3. Draw a Gift card to bring their hand back up to 12 cards.

1. Gifting Cards
Each player chooses one card from their hand and passes it, face down, to the player on their left.
Strategy Tip: Try to collect sets of matching cards and filter out Gift cards that aren't as useful for winning days. Try not to gift the same
card too often.

2. Playing Cards

Each player lays one Gift card face down on the table. Once all players are ready, they reveal their played Gift cards at the same time.

The lowest valued card is the "best" gift and wins the day. The winner of the day takes the top card from the Holiday deck (that round's Day card) and places it in front of them. Each Day card is worth points equal to the number on the card. For example, day 4 is worth 4 points.
The "best" present is usually the lowest number played that round; normally, whoever plays the lowest numbered card will win the day and earn points.

Lowest Card Wins each day

On the 1st day of Christmas, the Gift cards played are: 9, 8, and 12. 1he 8 is the lowest card played. 1he player who played the 8 wins the day, earning 1 point.
However, if there is a tie for the lowest card, then those cards are ignored, and the next lowest card wins. If the next lowest cards are also tied, the third lowest number wins.

If all the Gift cards are tied, then no one wins the day, and that day's card and the next day's card go to the winner of the following day.

For example, if the Gift cards played were: 3, 3, 5, and 10, then the player who played the 5 would win the day because the 3s are tied.

Claus Rules: Santa and Mrs. Claus are special Gift cards with a value of O. They are the lowest valued Gift cards and can cancel each other out.

If a player wins the day with either Claus card, instead of taking that Day card for themselves, they must gift it to another player of their choice.


Strategy Tip: Save your powerful, low-numbered Gift cards for Day cards that are worth more points. Also, pass the Claus cards when you're behind in points.

3. Drawing Cards

At the end of each round, the played Gift cards are discarded, and everyone draws one Gift card. Players should have 12 Gift cards in their hand at the start and end of every round (including the last round). When the Gift deck runs out, reshuffle the discarded Gift cards and use these to replenish the draw deck.
Ending the Game
The game proceeds for 12 rounds/days. After all players have drawn their final Gift card at the end of the 12th day, the game ends, and players determine their score.

Note: If no one wins the 12th day, the game ends anyway, and the 12th day card goes to no one.


A player scores points in two ways:

1. Day cards: Each player totals the Day cards they won during the game. Each Day card is worth its number in points. The 1st day is worth 1 point, the 2nd day is worth 2 points, and so on.
2. Gift cards: Players may score bonus points for the Gift cards remaining in their hands. Whoever holds the most Gift cards of a specific value scores that many points. For example, whoever holds the most 9 cards wins 9 points, and whoever holds the most 5 cards wins 5 points. Score points in ascending order from 1 through 12.

If players are tied for the most cards of a specific value, then each of those players scores the full value of that card. If a player scores points in this manner, they place a Gift card of the appropriate value with their earned Day cards to indicate their bonus points.

Nicki - 7 7 : +7

Jake - 7 7 : +7

Cassidy - 7 : +0 

Nicki and Jake each have two 7-point Gift cards remaining in their hands, while Cassidy has only one. Both Nicki and fake score 7 bonus points each and place a 7-point Gift card on their stack of Day cards.

Each player adds their Day card points and bonus points together.
The player(s) with the most points wins!

Variants of Play

8 Nights. During setup, remove the Claus cards and all cards valued 9 through 12 from both the Gift and the Holiday decks. Shuffle the Gift deck as normal, but only deal 8 Gift cards to each payer. Game play ends after 8 rounds called "nights." Otherwise, gameplay is the same.
Note: The smaller hand size makes deciding which card to pass during the gifting phase more difficult.

8 Players. To accommodate up to 8 players, simply combine the Gift decks from two 12 Days sets together. Otherwise, the rules are the same.

Note: The double distribution of cards can lead to frequent ties.