White Elephant Party & Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

White Elephant Party & Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

New! Winter is here. It's time to send your holiday cards, Christmas cards, New year party invitations or New year cards. Also, get organized for the year ahead with our personalized planners.

A white elephant party gift exchange can add fun and excitement to any holiday party, whether it’s at work or at home. There are a variety of ways the gift exchange game can be played and you can customize it to fit your holiday party’s unique theme and your guests’ interests.

White Elephant Party & Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas
White Elephant Holiday Party Invitation by PurpleTrail.com.

Here you’ll find everything you need to know about organizing a white elephant party or holiday gift exchange party. You’ll find classic rules along with variations of the game and tips on how to incorporate the gift exchange game into your holiday party.

White Elephant Party Ideas

A white elephant party is a holiday gift exchange celebration which requires each guest to bring in a tacky, previously owned item. All gifts are wrapped and placed together so guests can take turns picking one gift to unwrap from the pile. There are certain rules that allow guests to steal items from each other and exchange less desirable gifts for better ones. White elephant parties are not only affordable but also give guests a chance to get creative and tap into their unique sense of humor.

White Elephant Party & Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas
Elephant garland courtesy of Etsy.com ThePaperCove.

Since white elephant parties are lighthearted, casual affairs, consider coordinating your decorations, food, and invitations accordingly. Have guests bring a dish to pass. This will help the host save a bit of cash on food and give everyone something to chat about at the holiday party. Deck your holiday venue out with classic Christmas decor or choose a specific palette, such as white, to coordinate your decorations and invitations to. Incorporating elephants or useless trinkets into your white elephant party decorations can also be a cute way to emphasis your party’s unique theme.

White Elephant Invitations

Just like any other celebration, you’ll need party invitations that set the mood for your holiday gift exchange. Since your invitations will introduce guests to your theme and fill them in on the rules and details of your party, we recommend personalizing your own white elephant party invitations on PurpleTrail.com.

White Elephant Party & Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas
White Elephant Gift Exchange Holiday Party Invitation by PurpleTrail.com.

They have a variety of unique white elephant party invitation templates to choose from and they offer great customization options so you can personalize your invites to match your celebration’s theme, palette, and mood perfectly.

After you find a white elephant party invitation that works for your holiday party, make sure to fill guests in on how the gift exchange will work. Explain the rules and note what guests should bring, when the party will be, and how formal of a celebration it is.

White Elephant Gift Exchange Rules

Generally how white elephant gift exchanges work is participants are asked to bring in a wrapped gift — preferably something that is previously owned, funny, unusual, or impractical. If you want, you can also ask guests to purchase an inexpensive, practical gift, if your think your guests would enjoy that more. At least six people need to play in order for the game to go smoothly.

White Elephant Party & Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas
White elephant party gifts.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure your guests keep their gifts a secret. The game will be less surprising and fun if guests know which gifts are up for for grabs.

Have everyone place the gifts they brought in a pile. Then write numbers one through however many people are playing on pieces of paper. For example if there are 10 people playing, you would write one through ten on individual pieces of paper.

Fold the paper up and place the pieces into a large jar or bag. Have each guest draw a piece of paper. The number drawn will indicate the order in which guests choose gifts — for example the guest who drew number one will get to pick first.

After the first person chooses their gift, they can open it. Then it’s the next person’s turn — they can choose to pick a new wrapped gift or steal a gift that is already opened. If a gift is stolen from a guest, they have to immediately pick a new wrapped gift from the pile or steal a gift that hasn’t already been stolen from another guest — after doing so, it’s the person with the next highest number’s turn.

White Elephant Party & Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas
Green Circle White Elephant Party Invitation by PurpleTrail.com.

Again that person can choose a new wrapped gift or choose to steal a gift. Also keep in mind that gifts cannot be stolen more than once a turn and you cannot immediately steal back a gift that has already been stolen from you — you must wait for at least one round to pass before stealing back a gift that was once in your possession.

To ensure gifts are given to appropriate recipients, you can note which gender the gift is for on the wrapping paper. You can also add on rules to make your white elephant exchange party more interesting. Check out this WikiHow white elephant gift exchange post for more tips.

White Elephant Gift Ideas

The success of your white elephant party will depend mostly on the gifts you ask guests to bring. If your guests all have a good sense of humor, ask them to bring funny, tacky, and previously owned gifts. If you guests would rather have a gift they can use and maybe even cherish, ask each guests to buy a nice yet affordable item for your party.

If you’re a throwing a traditional (funny) elephant exchange party, here are some gift ideas you can use for inspiration.

  • A funny t-shirt
  • Something from Archie McPhee
  • Pink bunny slippers
  • A funny book

If you’re throwing a classier and more practical white elephant gift exchange party, here are some gift suggestions.

More Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

There are plenty of holiday gift exchange games and themes beyond white elephant celebrations, including Holiday Trivia Gift Exchange, Cobweb Gift Exchange, and Musical Chairs Gift Exchange. Learn more about these entertaining holiday party gift swap ideas on RealSimple.com.

Hopefully you found these gift exchange and white elephant party ideas helpful! Good luck planning for your holiday party. Make sure to check out the rest of articles on HolidayPartyIdeas.net for more great celebration ideas and tips!

Merry Christmas!