White Elephant Gift Exchange for a Fun and Frugal Christmas Party
Why Do a White Elephant Gift Exchange?
If you have a large extended family that you get together with at Christmastime, you might want to consider doing a White Elephant Gift Exchange. There are many benefits to doing this instead of giving a gift to each person:
- The major advantage, in my book, is that it relieves the pressure and hassle for everybody of choosing so many gifts.
- It also saves the expense of buying all those gifts.
- It is much easier for everybody to enjoy getting together for Christmas without all of that shopping stress.
- This is also a great way to add fun to an office party or any other group Christmas gathering as it is an activity as well as a gift exchange.
My family has been doing this for adult members of the family for the past several years. My siblings and I all have grown kids, many of whom are married with their own kids now. Sometimes, people would be reluctant to come to a Christmas get-together if they could not provide gifts for everyone. This game helps alleviate those concerns without doing away with the gift-giving aspect altogether.
How Does It Work?
There are variations on the game, but this is how we do it:
- Each person who wants to participate provides a wrapped gift. We set a limit of $30 per gift. Of course, you could put any limit on it that works for you.
- Everybody draws a number; each person takes their turn according to the number they drew, number one being first.
- When it is your turn, you can either choose a gift to unwrap, or steal a gift that someone has already unwrapped. If someone steals your gift, you get another turn. Each gift can be stolen a maximum of three times.
- After the last person has taken their turn, the first person has an opportunity to steal since they did not have anything available to steal when it was their turn.
The gift exchange lasts longer—and is more fun—than if everybody just draws a name, gets one gift, and opens it. It is interesting to see which gifts are the most sought-after. Sometimes it can be surprising which gifts are the most popular.
What Kind of Gift Should I Choose?
Traditionally, a White Elephant was a gag gift or a used item that people did not want anymore. We usually go for new items, or at least items purchased just for the occasion, like flea market items. They can be funny or serious.
At first, family members were apprehensive about buying a gift that would be suitable for anybody at the party, but that is not so much of a problem since people have the opportunity to steal. I usually tell everyone, "Just get something you would want." Chances are, if you would want it, someone else would too. I think this approach works well.
Gift Ideas and Tips
Just to help get you started with some ideas, here are a few of the gifts from our past Christmases:
- Music CDs
- Movie DVDs
- Gift Baskets
- Plush Blanket or Throw
- Wine or Wine Glasses
- Remote Control Car
- Rustic Sign
- Plant Stand
- Fondue Set
- Cool Picture Frame
- Collectable Figurine
- Fancy Shelf
- Small Furniture
- Carved Wooden Box
- Streaming USB Stick (such as Roku, Fire TV Stick or Chromecast)
- Gift Card for Amazon
- Lottery Tickets
The lottery tickets were a last-minute purchase, and they were stolen three times; that's more than any other gift. Last year, I gave a set of Redneck Wineglasses, which was sort of a gag gift (they are made from mason jars). They were stolen twice.
Simplify the Holidays
Why not make life easier for yourself and the people you love by introducing this as a new family tradition?
I have found that my family looks forward to this event. I think they actually enjoy shopping when they can focus on that one gift instead of overspending and running themselves ragged.
White Elephant: Yea or Nay?
Have you ever participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchange?
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Sherry Hewins