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Last Minute White Elephant Gift Exchange Ideas

Updated on December 23, 2010

Don't know what to bring to a Whilte Elephant Gift Exchange party?

Traditionally, a White Elephant gift exchange is played where you bring a wrapped gift you received this Christmas that you don’t really want and can pawn off on someone else. The game is played where all players who brought a ‘white elephant’ gift draw a number to take turns. The wrapped gifts are put in a pile and the person with the first number “1” chooses a gift and unwraps it for everyone to see. The next player can steal that gift or choose a new gift from the pile. A White Elephant Gift can only be stolen twice throughout the process. If your gift is stolen, you can seal another person’s gift or pick again from the pile. The game ends when the last person chooses and all gifts are picked from the pile.

If you are invited to a White Elephant party and don’t have a gift to bring (or you do, but the person who gave you said terrible gift is attending the party also) then here are some ideas on cheap or free gifts to ‘re-gift’ this holiday season.

Mystery Value Gift Card


If the party has set a gift ‘value’ so participants are not required to spend hard-earned cash, bring a gift card with a MYSTERY VALUE. One idea is to get a gift card can not disclose the gift card’s value. Players be tempted to steal another players gift card gift, even if they don’t know the value. The final recipient will have to visit the store from which the gift card was issued to reveal the value. Don’t waste a friend’s time and put $0 or $1 on the card, but don’t feel like you have to spend as much as $50 either.

Lottery tickets are another popular White Elephant gift option. The player who is holding the gift cards at the end of the exchange can then scratch them off. Only give these if you will have no hurt feelings if the recipient hits the jackpot and keeps the winnings for himself.

A $10 bill wrapped up can also be a simple and exciting item. If you give this, prepare to admit you forgot about the party and didn’t have a real gift to bring.

Something Found

Don’t want to spend any money on a new gift? Find something around your house to re-gift. Good ideas are DVDs you no longer watch or have outgrown. Books with comics or with funny topics or titles can provide entertainment for the party.

Don’t pack up items from your pantry for re-gifting. No one will want receive a can of corn and knows their gift won’t get stolen by another player. Any new and unused household items that might come in useful (e.g. a set of flatware in box or new tools still in packaging you bought but never used) and can make descent gifts.

Food or Drink

A fresh baked batch of cookies in a Christmas tin can make a great gift. If lucky, the winner would share with the rest of the party after the gift exchange is over.

White Elephant parties become more fun as gifts are stolen throughout the process and you can decide to bring something people will actually want and fight over. Bring a bottle of wine or case of beer and your gift may be one of the first gifts to be stolen.Don't want to bring alcohol, drink mixers can be more appropriate for work environments.

Boxes of candy or popcorn are easy items to pick up on the way to a party and through in a gift bag.


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