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31 Funniest White Elephant Gift Ideas Ever

Carolyn worked as a technical writer, software user interface designer, and as a gig writer way before it was hip.

Here are 31 different fun and silly ideas for you to bring to your next white elephant gift exchange party.

Here are 31 different fun and silly ideas for you to bring to your next white elephant gift exchange party.

Finding just the right white elephant gift is a bit of an art. White elephant gifts are given usually at holiday parties as a party game and conversation starter. Great gifts must either be highly desirable or so bad that you just want to give them away.

During a typical gift exchange like this, participants take turns unwrapping a gift or "stealing" a gift that someone else already unwrapped. Gifts may be stolen only twice, then that item is off limits. This prevents one or two items from being repeatedly stolen.

The term "white elephant" is often attributed to any small, inexpensive gift, usually under $10, but some people consider gifts to qualify in the "white elephant" category only if the item is a re-gift. These exchanges can be a lot of fun, but are not recommended for small children who are easily disappointed when a favored item is taken from them.

Here are 31 white elephant gift ideas that are sure to get a reaction during your next holiday party.

You don't want to be the person left holding this box!

You don't want to be the person left holding this box!

31 Funny Ideas for a White Elephant Gift Exchange

1. Really weird Christmas ornaments. An oversized blown-glass mosquito, a shark wearing a hula skirt and a coconut bra, a skiing pig, or an ice-skating hippo all will work fine. All of these ornaments are selling at Target stores.

2. Dancing animatronic Christmas dolls. The weirder, the better. One year we received a be-bopping fuzzball with ogling eyes and a beak that dances and sings to the tune of "Deck the Halls" in a jazz voice.

3. A selection of Christmas Carols on 8 track or cassette tape.

4. Self-help or promotional video tapes or audio cassettes from the 1970s.

5. Obscure kitchen gadgets such as a garlic roaster.

6. Specialty pet items such as a holiday pet sweater for a small dog.

7. A box of chocolates that has been opened with obvious bite marks in the chocolates. I have seen this done more than once at a white elephant gift exchange, so I'm not sure how original the idea will seem to others. But if the idea is fresh within your social circle, the look of shock on the gift recipient's face will be well worth it.

8. A simmering bean pot. These stoneware kitchen items were must-haves during the 1970s.

9. An aebleskiver pan. These unique Danish cooking pans are shaped like a frying pan but have several small round holes about the size of a donut hole inside for making aebelskivers. Attach a recipe for aebleskivers or don't. This will be a much stolen gift. The "what is it?" factor makes it a primo white elephant choice.

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10. A "collectible" Avon cologne bottle.

The Monchhichi doll is an 80s fad that will get a big reaction.

The Monchhichi doll is an 80s fad that will get a big reaction.

11. A scorpion in a glass paperweight.

12. A blue light flashlight that is sold to help people identify scorpions, which are nocturnal and fluorescent in the blue light. (See No. 11.)

13. A Monchhichi doll. According to my daughter, these dolls look like a cross between a badger and a monkey. But I think they look like a cute version of the ape men on Planet of the Apes. These "cute and cuddly" dolls were popular during the 1980s and are trying to make a comeback. They are both too cute to be ugly and too ugly to be cute, and in the words of a friend: "that is soooo creepy!"

14. Smurf dolls are the original blue men. If you are lucky enough to have one of the original blue dolls from the 1980s hanging around your house, now is a perfect time to find Papa Smurf and all of the other hard-working smurfs a new home.

15. A nativity set missing one key piece.

16. A bag of mismatched socks from the laundry room and a box of sweet smelling dryer sheets.

17. A roll of unopened film from an old film-operated camera.

18. In a sunny southwestern climate, consider giving cold-climate items, such as a hat, gloves, scarf, and carrot and label it "instant snowman kit."

19. Peel and stick magnetic photo albums. I don't know if these atrocious items are still for sale, but I have never met anyone who actually stored photos in them.

20. A Junior League cookbook with your favorite recipes highlighted.

Horehound candy is an acquired taste. It is a unique item to include in a white elephant gift exchange.

Horehound candy is an acquired taste. It is a unique item to include in a white elephant gift exchange.

21. A collection of assorted movies from the 1980s including Ferris Bueller's Day Off (on video cassette, of course), Say Anything, Some Kind of Wonderful, Better Off Dead, or Desperately Seeking Susan starring Madonna.

22. You could give a copy of The Princess Bride, with an empty bottle labeled "iocane powder" and a bag of black Australian licorice from the dollar store, since the deadly poison iocane is said to come from Down Under.

23. A T-shirt that says "I'm with Stupid." Better yet, if the T-shirt is homemade using a permanent marker. You could also write "I came to so and so's Christmas party and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

24. Giant, oversized office supplies such as a gigantic calculator or an oversized pencil are good selections for office gift exchanges. They are quite silly but still have a useful purpose.

25. Clothing that is gaudy and tasteless will make a good white elephant gift. Think Elton John meets Elvis. A polyester zoot suit or pair of used bowling shoes fit this category. A slinky sized-two dress covered in gold sequins with a matching purse. A purple wig and Groucho Marx glasses. A pair of orange polyester pants with a lime green bowling shirt. Or going in a different direction, try a REALLY UGLY Christmas sweater.

26. "Autographed" pictures of your favorite celebrities. Print a photo of your favorite ex-president or childhood celebrity—think Gary Coleman from Different Strokes or Punky Brewster. George Bush was served up at a recent Christmas gift exchange, and he was the hit of the party with an elected Democrat who happened to be there at the party with us. It is helpful if the autograph says something really out of character for the person in the photo.

27. Out-of-style household décor items. When I was married 18 years ago, my husband and I received a lamp that was made from a plastic trash can that had been turned upside down, drilled with hundreds of small holes, and then stuck full of Light-Bright pegs. This odd lamp hung from a chain and was easily the ugliest personal décor item I have ever laid eyes on, but it made a fantastic white elephant gift at a party I attended years later. (Sorry Uncle Fred!) Other items to consider are macramé plant hangers or 1980s-era geese. For years, my parents had a pair of oversized wooden kitchen utensils that I would love to use as a white elephant gift.

28. Strange-looking children's toys. Think Trollz or stuffed Star Wars ewoks. Or what about those new Barbie dolls with the extra small heads and long bodies. These are rather bizarre looking in my opinion.

29. Horehound candy. It tastes foul and is not too hard to find. Unsweetened black licorice that you could find at a health food store is another good choice. While it is supposed to be good for you, without sugar it tastes like tire rubber.

30. Any kind of over-the-counter medicines or treatments designed to treat embarrassing health conditions. Hemorrhoidal suppositories, do-it-yourself enemas, bowel-cleansing kits, pin worm treatment medicine, head lice treatment, or flea and tick shampoo. (Get the last one at the pet store.)

31. Now that we are on the subject of disgusting humor, I have to mention Walter the Farting Dog. This children's book by William Kotzwinkle is a gas.

Some children's books make gifts. Try this one or "Beware of the Frog" by William Bee.

Some children's books make gifts. Try this one or "Beware of the Frog" by William Bee.

© 2010 Carolyn Augustine


Darlene Fetterman on October 28, 2019:

It was nice that some of the gifts you could click on and get to where they could be ordered. The rest of the other other items. there was no link. Thank just stinks.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on February 19, 2012:

Thanks Joy. I've been on the hunt for something especially atrocious at yard sales and consignment shops. I haven't found the right thing yet but I came close with the pig salt and pepper shakers for pork-lovin' Iowa.

Joy M from Sumner, Washington on February 15, 2012:

I loved you idea about the t-shirt "I came to so and so's Christmas party and all I got was this lousy T-shirt." I am definitely using that next Christmas.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on February 15, 2012:

Thanks sweetguide. I hope the list proved useful ;).

sweetguide from River side on February 14, 2012:

Very informative piece and well written too. Excellent. Bless you

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on March 18, 2011:

Thanks Dim, maybe it is a unique American phenomenon?

Dim Flaxenwick from Great Britain on March 18, 2011:

I´ve never heard of these parties over here in Britain. I found the entire hub hilarious. Thank you.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on January 06, 2011:

I hadn't either until recently! The Monchhichi doll inspired this hub. I like the "sneaky Santa" name better. There's always someone who doesn't play fair and brings a really nice present, though!

cheapsk8chick on January 06, 2011:

I love those White Elephant parties and haven't been to one in ages! We always called them "sneaky Santa" parties. Thanks for getting the Mohnchhichhi song stuck in my head!

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on December 24, 2010:

Thank you Kaie, I was inspired by a recent gift exchange. We had a blast and my Mohnchhichi doll was the score I adore. Merry Christmas to you too!

Kaie Arwen on December 24, 2010:

I love White Elephants.............. greats ideas ~ thank you, and MERRY CHRISTMAS~ Kaie

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on December 21, 2010:

I wonder if this is one of those crazy American traditions, or is the white elephant exchange done in other parts of the world, too? Anyone?

Hello, hello, from London, UK on December 21, 2010:

I have never heard of it but it sounds a lot of fun.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on December 21, 2010:

Thanks dallas and danamisi, have fun at your Christmas Party!

danamisi on December 21, 2010:

Perfect timing. Need a White Elephant for a Christmas Party we were invited to tonight. Great ideas thanks.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on December 20, 2010:

Enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on December 20, 2010:

Lily Rose, that definitely qualifies in the stuff nobody wants category!

Lily Rose from A Coast on December 20, 2010:

My parents do a white elephant gift exchange every year with their friends. This year my mom ended up with a box of plastic hangers - pretty cheesy of the giver!

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on December 20, 2010:

Thank you, Happyboomernurse, that is an excellent idea. I may just have to give that one a try!

Carrie, thanks for commenting and have fun!

carrie450 from Winnipeg, Canada on December 20, 2010:

A great hub with great ideas :) Our family is doing a white elephant gift exchange just for the fun of it and these tips are very helpful, thanks.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on December 20, 2010:

Great hub. Love white elephant parties. The last place I worked had them every Christmas and it was always a blast cause we had some very creative and artistic employees.

The most clever gift was a box of Trix Cereal that no-one wanted. It wasn't till the final person got stuck with it that the significance of the word Trix (i.e. trick) was discovered. The "real" gift was sealed inside the box and tucked in between the trix- a $25 gift certificate for a local restaurant which took that gift from most reviled to most highly prized!

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