INSIDE: Festive times are upon us! Learn what a white elephant gift exchange is and get some fun & inexpensive white elephant gift ideas right here.
You’ve heard the term before, but what exactly is a white elephant gift exchange and how does it work? We’ll go through all of that below, plus we’ll share some funny and inexpensive white elephant gift ideas so you can make this most of this year’s holiday party.
A white elephant gift exchange can bring laughter and fun to almost any holiday get-together, such as a family or work gift exchange. But coming up with a gift idea can be a challenge.
While you want to have fun at a white elephant party, you want to keep the gift giving affordable, too. Here are some inexpensive white elephant gift ideas (each costing less than $25) that will make someone’s day!!! (Here are more co-worker gift ideas and very affordable gifts for relatives if you need those ideas as well. And for even more inspiration on keeping your holiday spending in check, see How to Do Christmas on a Budget.)
Check out some of our other gift guides:
- Gift Ideas for the Music Lover on Your List
- Teen Boy Gift Ideas
- Gifts Your Child’s Teacher Actually Wants
WHAT IS A WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT EXCHANGE?
A white elephant gift exchange is a fun spin on Christmas gift giving. Instead of buying a gift for a specific person, you buy a basic gift that can work for anyone. The white elephant rules are pretty simple: Buy cheap and steal!
In the white elephant game, each person attending the Christmas party purchases an inexpensive gift to bring anonymously. (I recommend you set a price limit, so everyone knows how much to spend.) Guests place their wrapped gifts on a table or beneath the tree.
If you’re curious, read this background story about the name “white elephant gift.”
DIRECTIONS FOR RUNNING A WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT PARTY
To start, everyone draws a number. The person who draws #1 selects any wrapped gift he or she wants to open. The second person has the option either to select a new present to open or to steal the gift opened by player #1. If player #2 steals, then player #1 selects a new gift to open.
When the third person has a turn, he or she can select from either player #1 or #2 and steal that gift. If a steal happens, the person who no longer has a gift opens another one. Play continues until all gifts have been opened.
In this game, you want to get the highest number so you can select any gift you want – even if it has already been opened.
Another type of white elephant exchange is a Yankee swap. It follows similar rules except you don’t steal gifts. You open one and get to keep it (of course, you can have a gift swap with one another afterward).
Both games are lots of fun, and if you want clever or funny gift ideas, I’m here to help! All of the Christmas gift ideas below are priced at $25 or less, making them affordable, yet unique!
WHAT TYPE OF GIFTS DO YOU GIVE?
Now that you understand how it works, it’s time to think about what types of creative and inexpensive white elephant gift ideas you can give.
The gifts you exchange can vary, based on the type of party or exchange you’re attending. Sometimes the gifts are thoughtful or useful. The gifts can also be something from around your house that you no longer want (i.e., a re-gift).
But most of the time, people exchange funny white elephant gifts. These make for a lot of fun and laughter not only when people open them, but also as they fight to either get rid of them or to claim the gift they really want. So let’s move on to some funny white elephant exchange gift ideas…
FUNNY AND INEXPENSIVE WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT IDEAS
There are lots of fun ways to hold a white elephant gift exchange. Sometimes, the gifts will all be homemade; other times, they’ll be funny. You can set price limits or even make sure the white elephant gift is something used from your house. If you need to come up with creative and unique white elephant exchange gift ideas beyond the boring gift card, check out this list.
- Mason jar cocktails. If it’s OK to bring adult beverages to the gift exchange, here’s a really cute idea from somethingturquoise.com.
- Autographed picture of yourself. One funny white elephant gift idea is to take a selfie, print, autograph and frame it! Imagine your recipient’s surprise when he or she opens this hilarious white elephant gift!
- Nap Sack. This is the perfect gift for those times you just feel the urge to take a nap!! (It’s not a real gift, but you can put something inside the box, such as a fuzzy blanket or throw. Kohl’s has blankets on sale every holiday season, making them extremely affordable.)
- Muffin top baking cups. These cupcake liners are perfect inexpensive white elephant gift idea for the baker at your Christmas party!
- Wine bottle glass. You know you have that friend who needs one of these wine glasses.
- Lottery tickets. These make funny white elephant gifts, too! Just make the recipient promise to share the winnings!
- Bacon bandages. The bacon lover in your group needs these band-aids. You know it. And I know it. And once the box is opened, the bacon lover will, too! Best white elephant exchange gift idea ever!
- Axe pizza cutter. Who doesn’t love pizza? This great gift is funny, any way you “slice” it! LOL! I even love the circular saw pizza cutter!
- Cards Against Humanity. You definitely have to have the right crowd for this game. It’s crazy popular and lots of fun…but you don’t want Grandma to end up with it (unless she’s as crazy as you).
- Bear paw oven mitts. Nothing says loving like something from the oven…when you use your bear paw oven mitt.
- Poo-Pouri. This fun little item makes a great inexpensive white elephant gift idea and will surely bring lots of laughs!
- Coasters. Here’s a great idea for a white elephant gift that’s practical and that everyone can use. You can give funny coasters or something a bit more traditional.
- Dog Butt magnets. Because…why not? (My mom was given these as a gift when she moved into her house, and they are my kids’ favorite magnets.)
- Bob Ross socks. Let’s all say it together: “Happy Little Trees.”
- Emoji golf balls. These golf balls are a great white elephant exchange gift idea for the golf lover. They help you with your swing. And if not, at least they will be easy to see in the sand trap.
- Bring Me socks. Bring me wine, tacos, beer…whatever your fancy! This is an appropriate gift for your friend who likes to lounge and make others fetch the beverages. Find all sorts of fun styles on Etsy.
- Money Duck. Now you’ll know if your friend is showering with soap or not! This fun duck soap contains cash inside. But you have to use it up before you know how much you’ll get!
- Good morning coffee mug. This fun sleep/awake mug changes as you add a hot beverage to it. The mug makes a perfect white elephant gift for the “not so morning” person.
- iPhone charger stickers. Turn your iPhone charger into a fun little creature with these fun and inexpensive white elephant gift ideas.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THESE INEXPENSIVE WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT IDEAS
White elephant exchange gift ideas can feel daunting, but when you have all of these inexpensive white elephant gift ideas at your disposal, you can stop fretting and great excited about having a blast!