How to Plan a White Elephant Gift Exchange
A possession that is useless or burdensome, one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of.
The Original White Elephant Game
When the white elephant started it was meant to bring something laying around your house that you didn't want or need. That also extended to gifts you have received and rendered useless or ridiculous. They were generally gaily wrapped and brought to the party as a coveted gift. The idea was to pawn your unwanted gift on an unsuspecting innocent! Of course we all knew that it would probably be something silly but continued to look forward to it, There was a time set aside for the White Elephant exchange and it was often the highlight of the party. As the years passed, it became somewhat more sophisticated. It began to take on themes, as well as adding new rules to the game. In many families or groups, it has become quite a contest as to who can bring the most clever white elephant gift!
White Elephant Gift Exchange
Parties often incude the exchanging of gifts. For some people, bringing everyone a gift is not feasible. However, preparing one gift to exchange with an anonymous recipient, can be fun, simple and shouldn't break the bank. While many groups choose a "Secret Santa" or "Grab Bag", others find the White Elephant to be more than just a gift exchange. It is an entertaining fun part of your holiday event.
Choose a Theme
It would probably be easier for your guests if you give them a theme. It can also be more fun.There are several ways to pick a theme including the reason for the get together.If this is an office holiday party, you can choose holiday themed gifts or work related themes. Some people have changed it up to include "wanted" gifts, such as gift cards, coffee mugs or candles. It is important to specify whether this will be a "gag gift" or a real gift. It is also important to specify a price range. As fun as the game may be, a person who brought a $10 gift card to Starbucks may be dissappointed with his beautifully wrapped but empty Tiffany box!
The Original White Elephant!
A Fun, Illustrated set of Instructions for the White Elephant Gift Exchange
How the White Elephant Game got its Name
According to wikipedia, the term derives from the sacred White Elephants kept by Southeast Asian monarchs. To possess a white elephant was regarded as a sign that the monarch reigned with justice and power. It was a valuable but burdensome possession whose owner could not dispose of. They began to "gift" these white elephants to obnoxious courtiers to ruin the recipient by the cost of its maintenance.
A White Elephant Gift Exchange
Have you ever participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchamge?
Ideas for making your White Elephant game successful.
Do give the attendees guidelines. Plan a theme. Decide on a dollar amount. Talk it up. Make it fun. If you are doing a crazy ornament theme, show some examples. If you are planning other silly ideas, wear the ugliest Chrisrmas sweater when you introduce it. Whatever you end up doing, the idea is to have a good time.
It's all about the packaging!
White Elephant Gift Ideas
- New gift cards.
- Gag gifts.
- Poems or stories.
- A framed picture of you.
- Used gift cards
White Elephant Theme Ideas
- Work related
- $10 Gift cards
- Baked goods
- Gag gifts
- Vacation Theme
- Holiday related
Enticing White Elephant Gifts.
On the sillier side:
A silly book.
An empty box.
A chocolate bar encased in glass (to be used only in emergency)
Soap on a rope.
Funny coffee mugs or soup bowls.
A framed, autographed picture of yourself.
Memorabilia from a different decade.
Used gift cards.
If you have an office/family mascot, wrap him up!
Peruse novelty store for fun ideas.
Something funny that is specific to the participants. I.E. a collection of a rival company's pens, magnets, pads of paper, etc.
Specific Gift Ideas
On the more serious side:
Starbucks gift card in a mug.
A popcorn bowl with a movie ticket.
A pedicure set complete with lotions. manicure set, nail polish and flip flops.
An electric massager.
Travel size games.
A pamper yourself gift set with lotions and bath crystals.
Candles or candle warmers.
Slippers or gloves.
Make it Fun!
No matter what theme you choose or how much you spend, the idea is to have fun. It doesn't matter how many go rounds you have or who ends up with what, if they are still laughing about it the next day, it was a success! Have fun!