White Elephant Gifts And Ideas

You've been tasked with organizing a White Elephant Gift Exchange for a Christmas party, or maybe you're invited to a party this year with your co-workers, your book club members, your community group, your teammates or your extended family. Whichever the group, a White Elephant Gift Exchange is a fun and great party game! Everyone brings a gift and everyone leaves with a gift. In between, lots of deals, persuasive arguments, laughter and exchanging ensues! Everyone will be talking about the gift exchange and be reminded by their final gift long after the party is over. If you've got an hour to fill during a Christmas party, the White Elephant Gift Exchange is a great choice for a Christmas party game.

Guests will appreciate being told the theme of the gift exchange, with example ideas of what to buy or find, and what price limit you would like everyone to adhere to. You can also decide that this is a re-gifting exchange, meaning no money is to be spent, and gifts to be wrapped must be found in your home, something you no longer want or use, but is still somewhat new, not broken, not junk. Remember, the goal of a White Elephant Gift Exchange is to entertain your group, create an opportunity for your guests to get to know one another better, to have a lot of laughter and walk away with something they'll enjoy.

Purchasing vs. Re-Gifting:

Generally, the more interesting a gift is, the more likely it will cause a lot of exchange to go on, which is the goal of the game. A gift that is funny usually solicits the most exchange of all, so if your guests can find a funny and interesting gift, you are way ahead! Gifts that are "nice", as in lovely and practical, will be appreciated by the more introverted members of your group, but they won't create the fun atmosphere that you are going for. Any gift that is not particularly useful will tend to not garner much interest and something junky will be the least interesting gift to open. Anything that is well-worn or broken should definitely not be included, nor should anything that could have a sexual or rude interpretation, particularly among guests who may not know each other well.

If you decide to go with a re-gifting theme, guests should choose gifts that they have not used or opened, and if they have, the gift should be very lightly used. Under this theme, guests can of course purchase something at a thrift shop, but must adhere to the rules of the game and make sure something being almost-new.

You must also decide which price limit to provide your guests with as a guideline. Make sure they know that they don't have to spend the entire price limit, it is just a maximum. Office Party: For those who work in large offices, not everyone knows each other very well. The best themes for these groups are not necessarily impersonal themes, but themes that make presents easy to find or purchase and presents chosen being of general use and utility. Three themes with gift suggestions are:

  • Workday Enhancements: new thermal coffee or tea mug, desk or partition decor (abiding by office rules if there are any), fancy tape or paper clip dispensers, new wastebasket, customized mouse-pad, houseplant, inspirational picture in a frame or small poster, magnet bling, portable basketball hoop over the garbage pail.
  • Food: new bring-your-own-lunch stainless steel or glass containers, gift cards to a nearby Food Court, snack baskets, thermal coffee or tea mugs, water bottles, fancy cutlery with plate or bowl, candy, flavours to add to water.
  • Comfort at the End of the Day: bus or subway tokens, scarves, mittens, headache relief formulas, a book of comedy, a great playlist on a USB stick, extravagant chocolate, gift certificates for nearby businesses.

Community Group (book club, volunteer group, church group, teammates, gardening club, neighbourhood potluck):

  • Get Outside: everyone loves the harbingers of spring: water guns, sidewalk chalk garden decor, bird houses, bird seed, flower seeds or bulbs, a flag, patio lights, garden gnomes and other knick-knacks, a book on pollinators, paper maps, subscriptions to online magazines.
  • Gadgets: very few people actually buy a gadget for themselves but secretly yearn for some of the more innovative, fun devices: cooking timers, closet lights, key finders, headphones, heat sources (for body or home), solar power device, USB multi-ports, an organizer case for phone, earbuds and other things to commute with, an earbud splitter.

Extended Family or a Close Friend Circle: (sometimes too expensive to buy something for everyone, all adults, often everyone has everything they need):

  • The Way We Were: physical copies of old family or friend photos of younger days and turn the package in to enough copies for everyone, printed copies of letter excerpts or research from or about ancestors, a print copy of a family Coat of Arms, framed photos, memorabilia artifacts from a particular generation (think swing bands, hippies, flappers).
  • Something You'd Wear: This is particularly fun between close family and friends, outrageous but practical, dated but useful, themed clothing based on animals, plants, space. Scarves, leggings, t-shirts, socks, bangles, earrings, elbow-length gloves, glamour, suspenders, ties and bowties, back-packing, winter outdoor wear.
  • Comfort and Joy: audio or paper books, bath supplies, hot chocolate with mugs, cozy throw blankets, sweets baskets, playlist on USB, snack packs, tickets to movies, gift certificates for neighbourhood stores, one-month subscription to an online service, body care lotions and cold-weather comfort treatments, heat-packs for mitts, home-made coupons to provide your own expertise in something to a member of your group.

These are just some ideas to get you started on planning and organizing your own White Elephant Gift Exchange. We hope you find them useful, practical and most of all, inspiring! Merry Christmas!