The holidays are about spending time with your family and all the traditions that come with it. One of my favorite things my family does every year is a white elephant gift exchange.
If you’ve never heard of it before, a white elephant gift exchange is a fun game that many people play during the holidays, sometimes called “dirty Santa,” where the goal of the game is to walk away with the best gift.
Each participant brings a wrapped gift, and the players sit in a circle around the gifts. Players choose and unwrap a gift in a predetermined order (my family does it by age), making sure that the gifts are visible to all players. After the first player opens the gift, the real fun begins! Each player after can either steal a previous gift or open a new one. The last player opens the final gift and decides whether to swap or keep their gift.
There are also many variations of the game; sometimes people put a limit on the number of times a present can be stolen or put a limit on the amount that can be spent on a gift.
Although the game itself is fun, the hardest part is choosing a present to bring. It’s always fun to see your present being fought over! Here are some ideas for fun gifts:
- Lottery Tickets: These are always my first pick at a white elephant and act as a good addition to a small gift. They only cost a few bucks, but the person who chooses the gift may end up with some extra money at the end.
- Alcohol: Obviously, this is only for people of age, but an expensive bottle of alcohol is always fought over at my family white elephant exchange. There are also a lot of novelty alcohols out there, like chocolate-covered wine bottles, that make for a fun gift.
- Something from the “As Seen on TV” section: To me, the white elephant game is about ending up with something you didn’t know you needed, and there are many TV products, such as a Snuggie, that can fulfill that. Many stores have a section of “As Seen on TV” items with plenty to choose from.
- Card or Board Games: Everyone loves to play games, so they make a great gift. Barnes and Noble has a huge selection of obscure and themed games that would surely be fought over during a game of white elephant.
- Food-related gifts: Let’s face it, people love food. During this game, it’s good to embrace that. There are many things to choose from, such as a fondue set, a mini doughnut maker or a toaster that toasts Jesus’ face onto bread.
- Gift cards: Even though these are super easy, they’re also super useful. A gift card to a fancy restaurant, store or movie theater is always going to get used.
- Something silly: The internet is full of silly gifts that are perfect for a white elephant, such as avocado socks or a shirt with Nicholas Cage’s face on it.
- Home and Kitchen items: Another White Elephant staple is a set of nice glasses, a new pot or pan or a set of knives. These things are always useful and can make a great gift for someone who loves cooking.
- Tools: This is another awesome item that’s really useful. My family always fights over a new Swiss Army knife or a set of tools. They can be great for someone who’s moving into their first place or just needs a replacement.
- Cologne or Perfume set: Fragrances can be really expensive, but a high-end mini set can be a great gift. It gives the recipient a chance to try a few new scents and possibly find a new favorite.