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Best White Elephant Gift Exchange Ideas

Updated on January 2, 2015

Ideas For A White Elephant Gift Exchange

Are you in charge of the office or family Christmas gift exchange this year? If so you may want to look into a white elephant gift exchange as a fun alternative to drawing names, or the classic secret Santa.

Most everyone has been to a white elephant gift exchange party and knows the basic format. For those who aren't familiar with the white elephant gift exchange, this article will cover the basic rules with a couple of possible variations.

Below you will find some fun gifts ideas, in various price ranges, typical of what one would expect to find at a white elephant gift exchange.

What Is A White Elephant?

A White Elephant: is an object thought to be without use or value, considered burdensome to its owner

White Elephant Gift Exchange Rules - The basic format

Browse Funny Christmas Posters at Zazzle

Traditionally, a "White Elephant" refers that unwanted item cluttering your closet. You know, that hideous gift someone gave years ago. A white elephant gift exchange offers a chance to take that unwanted item and pass it along to someone else, providing everyone with a laugh in the bargain.

Nowadays it is more common to exchange new humorous or impractical gifts which are surely destined to become the white elephants of tomorrow.

Here Is the Basic Format For A White Elephant Gift Exchange.

  1. All participants will bring along a wrapped gift. (Host or hostess sets appropriate spending limit.)
  2. As guests arrive all gifts are gathered in a central location making every effort to maintain secrecy The idea is for people to not know who the gift is coming from.
  3. When all of your guests have arrived everyone will draw a number
  4. The next person may choose to open a gift or to "steal" an already opened gift. If they steal a gift, the person with the stolen gift has an option of stealing from someone else, or opening a new gift. A gift can only be stolen 3 times. You cannot steal the gift that was just stolen from you.
  5. Repeat this process in order until every gift has been opened and the last person keeps their gift.

Variations To The White Elephant Gift Exchange

Steps 1 through 3 same as above

  1. In order, each person should walk forward and choose a gift which they then open and show to the whole group. Continue until all gifts are opened.
  2. When all gifts are open, the exchange begins. In numerical order, each person will get to exchange their gift for any other gift. They do not have to exchange if they like what they have. If they do choose to exchange, the person they just exchanged with may switch with someone else. This series of exchanges goes on for 30 seconds. Whatever people are holding at the end of the 30 seconds is the gift they have going into the next turn.
  3. No hiding your gift or stopping anyone from taking it. That would be cheating.
  4. After the highest number goes, whatever gift everyone has is the gift they get in the exchange.

Other Names For A White Elephant Gift Exchange

Yankee Swap, Chinese Gift Exchange, Dirty Santa, Thieving Santa, Parcel Pass, Pollyanna, or Christmas Swap Thing.

Gifts For The Office White Elephant Gift Exchange

Dead Fred Pen Holder Great Gift For the Office Gift ExchangeCHECK PRICE

Cat End Pencil Sharpener Absolutely Hilarious Gift IdeaCHECK PRICE

Scotch Shoe Dispenser with Magic Tape Someone Will Love ItCHECK PRICE

Genuine Rosewood Ballpoint Pen A Great Gift No JokingCHECK PRICE

Aluminum Business Card Holder Everyone Will Want ThisCHECK PRICE

Multifunctional Desk Top Organizer A Practical Gift IdeaCHECK PRICE

White Elephant Gift Exchange Funny Gift Ideas Under- $10

Do you want to bring the gift everyone wants to your white elephant gift exchange, or the one that gets the most laughs? Either way we have got you covered with these funny and marginally useful gifts all for under $10

College Logo Duck Tape Pick Your Favorite TeamCHECK PRICE

Big Mouth Toys Toilet Mug *Guaranteed Laugh*CHECK PRICE

100 Dollar Bill Toilet Paper: Hey It's Fun To DreamCHECK PRICE

What Do You Think Of White Elephant Gift Exchage Parties?

Not everyone loves a white elephant gift exchange party. What do you think? Feel free to share your alternative gift exchange ideas.

White Elephant Gift Exchage: Love it or Hate it?

See results

White Elephant Gift Exchange Ideas People Will Really Want

Under $10

Typically the point of a white elephant gift exchange is to bring the most ridiculous least desirable gift that you can find. Sometimes however you maybe invited to a more highbrow affair and you will want a better grade of gift. So, to that end I thought that I would include a list of gifts anyone would appreciate, all $10 or under.

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Wine Stopper & PourerCHECK PRICE

Toastmaster Personal Coffee Mug and WarmerCHECK PRICE

Fiskars Canvas Garden Bucket Caddy Fits 5 Gallon BucketsCHECK PRICE

Cool Silver Robot 8 GB USB Flash DriveCHECK PRICE

Swiss+Tech Micro-Max 19-in-1 Keychain MultitoolCHECK PRICE

Cocoon GRID-IT! Organization SystemCHECK PRICE

White Elephant Gift Exchange Gift Ideas Between $10 and $20

With these great gifts all under $20, you are sure to be the life of your white elephant gift exchange party this year.

Butt Station Tape Dispenser, Pen & Memo Holder, Clip StorageCHECK PRICE

Man's Duct Tape Tie / Necktie, for Mr. Fix-it, Diy ManCHECK PRICE

Emergency Pocket AM/FM/WB Weather Alert Radio with Digital Tuner and FlashlightCHECK PRICE

Hilarious Farting Santa Pull My Finger Doll

Pencil Holder w/Electronic Time/Temperature and Date Black MeshCHECK PRICE

Have you been to a white elephant gift exchange? What was your favorite gift? Do you have a gift exchange horror story? Share your Christmas tale.

Are You Invited to a White Elephant Gift Exchange This Year? - I would love to hear your comments

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    • tammy59 profile image


      6 years ago

      No, but I did use this idea in the past and my daughter has white elephant gift exchanges every year for her friends at her Christmas party. Her college and high school friends love this idea, because many of them are on a budget.

    • Scotties-Rock profile image


      6 years ago from OREFIELD, PA

      Great ideas for White Elephant!

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 

      6 years ago

      This is my favorite kind of gift exchange with friends or coworkers. It's always so much fun. Deciding rather or not to take a funny, useless gift or a gift you think will be wanted and taken away is fun too :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting I had never heard of it but great idea. Thanks for sharing

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      I got stuff, let's do this tonight! Great lens.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image


      7 years ago from McLaughlin

      Cute idea for an article! You write well! Squid Angel Blessed!

    • DuaneJ profile image


      7 years ago

      Very well crafted lens and great ideas!

    • curious0927 profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Lens! Very do-able ideas!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great stuff - sometimes it can be hard picking out a white elephant gift!

    • smithlights profile image


      7 years ago

      Great ideas here!

    • smithlights profile image


      7 years ago

      Great ideas here!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      7 years ago

      I've never been to a white elephant gift exchange, but my friends re-gift some pretty awful things. One tacky holiday brooch set has been going back-and-forth between us for years!

    • TheLittleCardShop profile image

      Malu Couttolenc 

      7 years ago

      I've never been to a white elephant gift exchange party but would be fun to organize one! Fun gift ideas!

    • Richard-H profile image


      7 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      I have never been to a White Elephant gift exchange, but ending up with a farting Santa could be kinda hilarious LOL!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      7 years ago from California

      I love these White Elephant Gift Exchange parties and always get a good laugh. Some real white elephant gifts listed here, and actually one or two that if I got stuck with, well I could live with it :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have participated in a few of these. They were fun.


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