White elephant gift exchanges offer creative, fun twist to holiday parties


Presents that are normally handed out during the holiday season, like a new video game, perfume or gift cards, can be boring and pricey. If you and your friends are up for trying a new way to give gifts and show you care, a white elephant gift exchange can be a fun and cheap way to do that. 

According to a yahoo.com article by Mari Johnson, there are two types of white elephant exchanges: “the gag gift,” which is where people find the tackiest gifts they can give, and the “no purchase allowed,” which is a gift that must come from your house and not bought.

Grant Hinckley, senior in nuclear engineering, participated in a white elephant gift exchange with his high school wrestling team. 

“My team members were some of my closest friends, so we had a lot of fun with giving out random gifts,” Hinckley said. ”The unconventional gifts given at these gift exchanges are hilarious. It is really funny with friends, but it would be a really awesome ice breaker if you did a party like this with people you weren’t very close to.”

A white elephant gift exchange is not just another creative way to give gifts; it’s the whole theme of the party. There are steps a person must take to properly throw a white elephant party, according to ehow.com.

Step 1: You must inform the guests that the gifts must be wrapped so people can anticipate and be surprised by their awesome gift they’re going to receive. Another part of Step 1 is having a designated spot for the presents.

Step 2: Don’t buy a present for a certain person. Make sure it’s something generic that could work for pretty much anyone. At the party you pass around something, like a hat, that holds pieces of papers with numbers to inform the person what gift they open.

Step 3: The person who gets No. 1 gets the first pick of the gifts, and then No. 2 picks a present, and so on. The tricky part of this type of gift exchange is that when someone unwraps a present, someone can “steal” a gift if they please. The fun part is, no one knows what they’ve chosen or stolen.

The gifts for a white elephant are usually tacky or humorous. Some examples from an article on yahoo.com included a can of beans, a sock puppet, blank CDs, batteries, mismatched or random salt and pepper shakers and fake tattoos. 

Morgan Moxley is a sophomore in public relations. Please send comments to [email protected]

 Editor’s Note: This article was completed as an assignment for a class in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications.