The white elephant gift exchange is a holiday classic. And a white elephant gift exchange under $25 or $50 is doable.
The game is simple to play. Everyone brings a wrapped gift and tosses it into a pile. Then, everyone draws numbers to decide the order in which people pick gifts. Player one picks first and opens his gift. Then, player two has the option of picking her a gift from the pile or stealing from player one.
That’s the basics of the game. If you need more details on how to play the white elephant gift exchange, check out the site While Elephant Rules here or the site Secret Santa here.
There can be rules added on such as how many times a gift can be stolen before it is frozen, a gift theme such as ornaments or ugly sweaters, and there can even be a price range for gifts.
When it comes to choosing gifts, choose something that’s original, funny, or fun. Here are some ideas to get you started. Most of them will work for men or women, which is ideal when it comes to a white elephant exchange gift.
The top Gifts at my Family White Elephant Gift Exchange
A popular gift from last year
Anything that was a popular gift people fought over in past, can be brought back again to the current year’s exchange.
For example, years ago someone brought a piggy bank to the author of this blog’s family’s gift exchange and it was a hit.
No idea why since it was just a simple piggy bank but for some reason – people went nuts over this pig!
Well this year, someone brought a similar piggy bank to the exchange and everyone shouted “the pig is back!”
Something a little naughty
This year someone brought edibles to the gift exchange.
It’s really hit or miss depending on your audience of course and their attitude towards this type of gift.
Let’s just say it was a hit with the group for this party.
A gift like this might be unexpected or it might be totally inappropriate depending on the setting. Read the room on something like this one.
Self-Care White Elephant Gifts
Foot Care Kit
This foot care kit is great for men and women that are dealing with rough feet. The kit includes three salt vials to scrub your foot with as well as heel balm to moisturize and soothe. You can find it here on Etsy.
Shower steamers are aromatherapy for the people who don’t like baths or don’t have bathtubs. These aromatherapy bars release essential oils into the air to be gathered up by the steam of the shower. Users will emerge refreshed and relaxed. You can find them here on Etsy.
Funny White Elephant Gifts
Funny Tea Towels
Sometimes the best white elephant gift is the one that makes you laugh. These tea towels are not just funny, but useful as well. You can find them here on Etsy.
“I’d Smoke That” Apron
For the chef/BBQer in the group, not only will this gift get some laughs, but it’s useful too. You can find it here on Etsy.
Bring a little levity to a tough year for everyone. This pandemic mug gives 2020 a 1-star review. You can find it here on Etsy.
Unicorn Zen Garden
It’s cute, funny, and whimsical. With this unicorn Zen garden, users get all the benefits of a typical Zen garden, just with unicorns instead. You can find it here on Etsy.
Decorative White Elephant Gifts
Broadway Costumes Poster
This poster takes a look at Broadway costumes through the years. It’s a vivid virtual history of the biggest shows to hit the stage. This gift is perfect for a theatrical crowd or a crowd of theater lovers. You can find it here on Etsy.
It’s super silly and may be perfect for those joke white elephant exchanges. The 18” x 18” pillow comes in a half-dozen different colors as well as options for glasses on or off the dog. You can find it here on Etsy. You can also get pillows with different dogs including a corgi (here), a Shiba Inu (here), or a bichon (here).
This one is great for a white elephant exchange with friends because it shows them how much you love them. The sign is printed on wood and easy to hang anywhere in a house. You can find it here on Etsy.
Decorating a garden is almost never done, so why not help a friend out? You can get a set of metal chickens for the garden here. Or garden art like these metal chickadees here. You can also get a dozen butterfly stakes here.
Simple, yet it adds a flavor of hominess to any kitchen. This “Pantry” sign works well in most spaces. You can find it here on Etsy. Or if you’re looking for something a little more farm-themed, this trio of signs that says “Eggs”, “Bacon” and “Milk” might be a better match. You can find it here on Etsy.
This is a unique set of coasters that you can use over and over again when your friends are visiting. The set of four coasters goes with almost any décor. You can find it here on Etsy.
Scratch Off USA Map
For a group of travelers, this is a great and gorgeous way to track where you’ve been. This scratch-off U.S. map reveals beautiful watercolor print every time you scratch off a state you have visited. You can find it here on Etsy.
Succulent Starter Set
Succulents seem to be all the rage these days, so why not help someone get their own succulent garden started. This set includes nine live plants to get you on your way. You can find it here on Etsy.
Add a little character to any garden with wind chimes. There are multiple types to choose from on Etsy including this asymmetrical one here. Or this clear glass one here. Whichever you chose, it’s sure to bring some calming tones to a backyard or patio space.
Edible White Elephant Gift Ideas
I love this white elephant gift because it’s so sweet. Honey lovers know that you can get different flavors of honey depending on the region the bees come from and the plants that they pollinate. While all the jars might look the same, I can tell you the flavors won’t be. You can find it here on Etsy.
Make Your Own Mozzarella Kit
The next step in stay at home baking, a make your own cheese kit. For the friends and family that find themselves at home in the kitchen, this kit is amazing and it can be used again and again.
Rubs of the State
Sometimes you just have to grill, so make sure you’re doing it right. This collection of BBQ rubs includes five different rubs from across the USA. You can find it here on Etsy.
Other White Elephant Gift Ideas
Oversized Blanket Scarf
This can be used as a blanket or a scarf depending on the situation. The item comes in neutral colors like burgundy and gray so that it’s useful to both men and women. You can find it here on Etsy.
This beautiful faux leather-bound is a great white elephant gift if you have a lot of friends who love adventure. They can write about their journeys, put trinkets and tokens within the pages and keep track of the places they visit with the maps within. You can find it here on Etsy.
Whiskey Soy Candle
This soy candle and soap combo smells like whiskey, which is sure to appeal to both men and women in a gift exchange. You can find it here on Etsy.
Wooden Docking Station
This wooden docking station does it all. Not only does it give you a place to charge your cell phone, but it can hold your jewelry, your watches, your sunglasses or glasses, and your keys. You can find it here on Etsy.
The really fun part about a white elephant game is that whether you’re playing with family or friends, it can be filled with laughs and some cutthroat steals.
Last Minute White Elephant Gift Ideas
If you’ve waited until the last second, you have a few choices.
Dress up Cash
Get some cash but make it pretty (maybe arrange it like a money tree?)
Or put it in the funniest card you can find at the store.
Give a Lottery Ticket
Or you can go on Etsy and get some cool printable gift card holders (maybe a funny one to hold the lottery ticket?)
Make a gift basket
Go to the dollar store or convenience store and make a gift basket.
Can you make a movie-night gift basket with popcorn and hot chocolate?
Maybe you can make a candy lovers gift basket?
Either way, don’t stress over the white elephant gift because it’s one of those events that’s just for fun!
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