Are you attending or hosting a holiday party this winter? If so, maybe you’re fretting over what to buy for the gift exchange. Whether you’re shopping for a white elephant gift for friends or getting a present for your office’s Secret Santa exchange, we’ve got solutions that can keep you on the nice list at every holiday party!
What Is a White Elephant Gift Exchange, Anyway?
By the traditional definition, a “white elephant” gift is an object that is useless or not particularly desirable. Naturally, exchanging these types of gifts can make for an entertaining activity at a holiday party! While this type of gift swap is commonly called a white elephant exchange, you may also hear it called Dirty Santa, Yankee Swap, or Secret Santa.
Whatever you call it, the premise of all these games is the same: swapping odd, silly, ridiculous, or sometimes even GOOD gifts at a party. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the holidays at your apartment this year, host a holiday party with a gift exchange! You can set the rules (and a price limit!), and everyone can bring something to swap.
White Elephant Gift Ideas for Different Crowds
Are you attending someone else’s party? Not sure what to buy for the white elephant gift exchange?
First, think about who’s attending the party. If you’re headed to an office gathering, steer clear of a gift that could potentially be offensive or deemed inappropriate (even if you think it’s hilarious). If you’re going to a party with well-known friends, you understand what kind of humor they will appreciate! You have a little more leeway on what gift to buy in this case, so choose something that can keep other guests fa-la-la-laughing all night long. If you don’t know other party guests very well, select a gift that almost anyone could genuinely appreciate.
Keep in mind that these types of gift exchanges might not always call for a silly gift—sometimes, these exchanges are full of gifts people actually want! Check with the host or hostess of the event before you buy a white elephant gift. Remember that anyone could end up with any gift, so you don’t want to buy something specifically for one person.
White Elephant and Yankee Swap Ideas Under $10
If you need to keep it cheap, here are a few white elephant gift ideas under $10 that will make you the life of the party. No lumps of coal here!
For a “serious” gift exchange:
- A coffee shop or restaurant gift card
- A set of reusable stainless steel straws
- A unique wine or cocktail glass
- Interesting refrigerator magnets
- A scented candle, lotion or soap
- Locally made candy or other edible goodies
- A lottery ticket (or several)
For a “silly” gift exchange:
- Goofy socks (bonus points if they’re holiday-themed!)
- A costume or ridiculous dress-up item (for example, fake teeth, or a visor with purple hair attached)
- A strange, unique, or funny coffee mug
- A wacky board game or card game
What to Buy for White Elephant Gift Exchange: Under $25
Have a little more cash to spend on a white elephant gift? Step up your gift game!
Serious gift ideas:
- A small cocktail set
- A bottle of wine
- Nice stone coasters
- A “night on the town” basket that includes a restaurant or movie theater gift card
Goofy gift ideas:
- House slippers (look online for some that resemble animals, food, and other wacky things!)
- Off-the-wall art (bathroom-themed wall art is usually a hit, as long as your crowd is the right one for it)
- A t-shirt with someone’s face on it (or your face!)
White Elephant Gift Ideas No One Else Will Think Of
Still not feeling inspired by these white elephant and Yankee Swap ideas? Head to your nearest thrift store! If you’re a creative type, you may be able to find something inexpensive that you can refashion into a cool gift. Even if you’re not creative, the odds are good that you’ll find something bizarre or hilarious to take as a white elephant gift.