Every Type of Gift for a White Elephant Gift Exchange

Family Members Exchanging Holiday Gifts

The season of gift-giving is right around the corner. For many of us, that entails at least one white elephant gift exchange. The gift-swapping game has become a staple of both holiday work parties and get-togethers with friends and family. No matter the crowd, the best white elephant gifts are fun and affordable, usually running somewhere between $10 and $20.

If you’ve never been to a white elephant gift exchange, here’s how it works: Everyone brings a wrapped gift that falls within a set price range. Then, guests draw numbers to determine the order that everyone gets to pick a present. Here’s where things get interesting. Instead of selecting a wrapped present from the pile, guests are allowed—encouraged, even—to “steal” a gift that someone else has already opened. Part of the fun is seeing your nearest and dearest get ruthless in the name of holiday spirit. Typically, a gift can be stolen three times before it’s off-limits, and the guest who picked first gets a chance to steal their choice of present at the very end. You may also hear this traditional gift exchange called a “Yankee swap” or “dirty Santa.”

It’s both a competition to snag your favorite gift and to bring the present that gets stolen the most, so finding the perfect present is a must. Depending on the group, the best white elephant gifts are covetable because they’re novel or a treat. It all depends on who’s going to be there.

Since there are a few different directions you can go, we’ve broken down white elephant gifts into four popular types to help you find the present that’s sure to delight those at your gathering. To get you started, we’ve handpicked gift ideas between $10 and $20. Some of them are even on sale right now, so it’s a great time to snag your present. Let's find the gift that everyone will be vying for at your white elephant exchange.

The Family Gift

For family get-togethers, a white elephant gift exchange is an affordable alternative to buying a present for everyone. It’s also a great way to liven things up and help everyone bond. Keep the party rolling with a gift that everyone can play with when the exchange ends. We love it when family holidays turn into game night. Exploding Kittens ($20) and Party Bowl ($17) are two bestselling games that’ll have everyone laughing. Kids will love Pass the Pigs ($10), a dice game that replaces traditional dice with pigs, and Blockbuster ($15) is a fun movie trivia game for adults and teenagers. Going in a slightly different direction, the PopSolo Microphone ($18) turns any smartphone into a karaoke machine.

The Throwback Gift

Presents that tap into nostalgia tend to be crowd-pleasing white elephant gifts. Who doesn’t love taking a trip down memory lane? Both of these blasts from the past are sure to take ‘90s kids back: a Tamagotchi Digital Pet ($20) and the game Bop It! ($11). Bring a gift that all of the “Friends” fans will be fighting over: Wheel of Mayhem ($16). It’s a “Friends” trivia game inspired by the game show that Joey auditions for in a classic episode. Throw it back a little further to the ‘80s with a mini arcade game ($18). Choose from a selection of arcade classics, including Pac-Man, Tetris, and Frogger. Or give everyone a good laugh with a Leg Lamp Nightlight ($19), inspired by the infamous lamp that Ralphie’s dad wins in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story.”

The Cozy Gift

If warm and fuzzy gifts are more your style, we’ve got you covered with a selection of treats that are perfect for cozy winters spent at home. You can’t go wrong with either of these “Amazon’s Choice” items: A Christmas-tree scented Yankee Candle ($17) or the Land O'Lakes hot cocoa gift box ($15) that features 11 different varieties of chocolaty goodness. All of the beauty lovers will go crazy for this "Fizzle All The Way” bath bomb advent calendar ($13). It features 12-days worth of relaxing bath bombs. While kids might not be enthralled with socks as presents, the rest of us can appreciate the comfort of a good pair. This set of fuzzy Christmas socks ($13) is an ultra-cozy choice. Make everyone smile with this adorable DASH mini waffle maker ($19). It’s a bestseller that whips up mini heart-shaped waffles.

The Gag Gift

And of course, who can forget about gag gifts? They’re a staple of white elephant gift exchanges for good reason. After all, there’s nothing like a silly novelty item to set a fun tone at the event. Strike a balance between funny and actually useful with a pair of smiley-face mop slippers ($13) or a colorful toilet bowl nightlight ($10). The recipient of the former can simultaneously keep their toes toasty and mop up small debris, while the latter will have a much easier time navigating the bathroom in the middle of the night. This one-pound Snickers bar ($10) earns points for sheer size. It’s the gift that every candy bar lover never knew they wanted. Then there’s a Baby Yoda Chia Pet ($20), which is as cute as it is silly. Or you could always go extremely literal with an actual white elephant—this ceramic elephant mug ($11) is on the nose in the best kind of way.

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