22 Gift-Giving Enthusiasts Share Their Favorite White Elephant Gift Ideas

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What are your favorite white elephant gift ideas?

A white elephant gift exchange, also known as a Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa gift exchange, is a fun activity to do with a group, such as for an office holiday party or with a group of friends. It’s an entertaining and often hilarious activity that gets everyone in a happy, festive mood. It’s a slight variation on Secret Santa gift exchanges, in which gift-givers know their recipient’s identity ahead of time, but the recipient doesn’t know who the gift-giver is. In a white elephant gift exchange, gift-givers don’t know who will receive their gift in advance. Here’s how a white elephant gift exchange works and how to choose the best white elephant gift ideas.

How Does a White Elephant Gift Exchange Work?

For a white elephant gift exchange, the goal is to exchange funny, impractical gifts, often with a few practical and sought-after gifts in the mix. The wrapped gifts are put into a pile so that no one knows who brought each gift. A method is used to determine in what order participants get to choose a gift, such as from youngest to oldest (or vice-versa) or having participants draw numbers.

The first person to choose a gift selects a package from the pile and opens it. Then, each subsequent participant can choose to select a wrapped gift from the pile or steal an already-opened gift, in which case the person whose gift was stolen gets to take another turn. This process results in a hilarious exchange in which participants can fight over the most hilarious, most impractical, or most genuinely useful gifts.

How to Choose the Best White Elephant Gift Ideas

From humorous paperweights to outright wacky gifts like socks printed with the gift-giver’s face and practical gifts like insulated mugs, there are plenty of white elephant gift ideas to choose from. But finding just the right white elephant gift can be tricky, so here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, consider is the group you’re doing the white elephant gift exchange with. If it’s a group of your closest friends or family members, consider the personalities of those participating. If everyone can take a joke, then pretty much anything goes if it’s a group of adults. If the group includes kids, it’s a good idea to do separate exchanges, one for the kids and one for adults, to ensure that everyone receives an age-appropriate gift. Still, you should keep the age range of the participants in mind when choosing a gift.

If you’re doing a white elephant gift exchange at the office or with a group of coworkers, keep office etiquette in mind. You don’t want to offend anyone with a gift that was meant to be funny, after all. Edible Arrangements® offers an extensive collection of delicious gifts and gourmet treats suitable for any white elephant gift exchange, whether it’s for work or with like-minded friends, including gifts both kids and adults will love. Choose from boxes of chocolate dipped strawberries, fresh-baked cookies in an assortment of scrumptious flavors, gourmet brownies and mini cheesecakes, and so much more.

You should also keep the budget in mind. Many white elephant gift exchanges set a budget of $20 or $30 so that every participant ends up with a gift around the same value. Shop with Edible Arrangements® to choose from a wide selection of gifts under $50 and gifts under $30 to find an amazing gift at the right price point. A Maddy & Maize™ popcorn bundle featuring four incredible gourmet popcorn flavors is sure to be the most sought-after gift of the exchange. Or, for a humorous touch, consider a box of “donuts” that aren’t actually donuts at all. While this fun twist on traditional donuts may elicit a chuckle at first, our Edible® Donuts won’t disappoint – they’re even more delicious than ordinary donuts! Made with donut-shaped Granny Smith apple slices dipped in real, gourmet semisweet chocolate and topped with colorful glaze and sprinkles, the lucky recipient will savor every last bite.

For more fabulous white elephant gift ideas your friends, family, or coworkers will absolutely love, we put out a call for ideas and curated responses below. (Note: Edible Arrangements® is not endorsing any of the companies or ideas discussed below, but we asked for suggestions to get some different perspectives.) Keep reading to find out what the contributors who responded to our query had to say about their favorite white elephant gift ideas.

Sherry MaeSherry Mae

@tankarium

Sherry Mae is the CMO of Tankarium.

“I recommend the BigMouth Mooning Gnome Salt and Pepper Shaker Set. This unique salt-and-pepper shaker design is hilarious — a mooning gnome shows off his buttcheeks, which contains salt on one side and pepper for the other.

The best part about the gnome’s buttcheeks is that they’re magnetic, meaning they’re easy to remove, use, and put back on the central gnome statue.

Since the salt and pepper shakers are magnetic, they’re less likely to fall off when accidentally nudged, making them safer than traditional designs.”


Yaniv MasjediYaniv Masjedi

@YanivMasjedi

Yaniv Masjedi is the CMO at Nextiva.

“The Toilet Bowl Coffee mug is a hilarious gift for white elephant gift exchanges. The humorous item is guaranteed to make the recipient and other guests laugh nonstop.

The best part is it’s completely functional as a coffee mug, a pencil holder, or a cupboard decor, depending on the gift’s recipient needs.”


Ian KellyIan Kelly

@NuLeafNaturals

Ian Kelly is the VP of Operations at NuLeaf Naturals.

“The best white elephant gifts are versatile, inoffensive, and fun! A gift that is constantly stolen at white elephant gift exchanges is a cozy, fluffy blanket. You can find one for any budget. If you find one in a nice neutral like grey or cream, it will be the most coveted gift at the party!”


Bilawal GulBilawal Gul

@TFashionJacket

Bilawal Gul is the Director of Marketing, content marketer, and copywriter at The Fashion Jacket.

“I always look forward to the white elephant gifts that are funny and unique but useful at the same time.

A few of my favorite white elephant gifts are:

  • A high-heel tape dispenser. It is not something most people would think of, so it’s a perfect office gift exchange gift.
  • A splat Stan coaster is cute and handy, making it another solid option for an office gift exchange.
  • A social shower curtain is a useful but hilarious pick. This shower curtain is printed with a social media profile with a square for the profile picture, which makes it extremely funny.
  • A beard hat makes it to my list of favorites because it is undoubtedly the funniest way to stay warm during the winter.”

James MajorJames Major

@InsurancePanda

James Major is the owner and founder of Insurance Panda, an auto insurance quote comparison portal.

“Many years ago, at a family Christmas party, I gave a large framed picture of myself as a white elephant gift for our Secret Santa event. It was such a hit that I now give one every year. It’s become an inside joke in our family. Who’s going to get James’ picture this year?!”


Rose WismansRose Wismans

@Rose_Wismans

Rose Wismans is the creator of FudgeMyLife.org, a blog where she writes gift guides she creates from the many presents and gadgets she comes across. Her main focus is to try and find affordable gift ideas for everyone since a good gift doesn’t have to be expensive.

“I have four brothers, which has led to a tradition of giving each other weird and annoying gifts. A present I once gave my younger brother years ago was a box of LEGOs he had asked for. However, I’d gone through the effort of taking out all the pieces and wrapping them up individually.

When he opened the gift, at first he was very grateful, but that ended once he actually opened the box. I’d even gone out of my way to find a LEGO set with a lot of different pieces. And though it was a pain to wrap up, the entire time I was doing it, I was already smiling at the expected frustrated look on his face. Now you can do this with all sorts of different gifts. For example, you can also get a puzzle or something else that comes in pieces to wrap up like this. It’s a great way to not waste your money on a useless gift while also properly annoying the recipient of said gift.”


Jamie BacharachJamie Bacharach

@BacharachJamie

Jamie Bacharach is a Licensed Medical Acupuncturist and Health Coach in Jerusalem, Israel, as well as the Head of Practice at Acupuncture Jerusalem. Jamie’s travels have taken her across the world as she has learned to synthesize the best of Western and Eastern medicine to the benefit of her patients.

“The challenging aspect of white elephant gifts is that you don’t know who will end up with what. Everyone has different preferences, tastes, and interests, so finding a gift that would be universally appreciated can be tough. That’s what makes an Amazon gift card such an excellent option. No matter who ends up with your gift, they will appreciate it and be able to make use of it. Just make sure it comes in under the price limit for your white elephant gift exchange.”


Kaila Yu

Kaila Yu

@kailayu

Kaila Yu is the Founder of NomList. She was a former lead singer of a rock band who now runs a media company about travel and food.

“Here are three of my favorite white elephant ideas:

  1. Cooking Kit: I love to print out my favorite recipe and fill a gorgeous basket with all the ingredients and any special utensils that might be needed.
  2. Lottery Tickets: Almost everyone I know loves receiving lottery tickets. They involve active entertainment for everyone at the party also, as they can join in and help scratch off the tickets.
  3. Bonsai Tree: It’s not only gorgeous for the home, but it also teaches patience. I love including interactive activities as gifts inside my white elephant gifts!”

Glen WildeGlen Wilde

@glenwildephoto

Glen Wilde is the CEO and Founder of Diet to Success.

“I recommend printing out a company group photo and pasting it on a photo frame you made yourself using basic arts and crafts supplies. For laughs, construct the frame as a young child would with lots of colorful construction paper and glitter.

Remember, white elephant gifts are not supposed to have a lot of monetary value, if any, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be sentimental.”


Deborah SweeneyDeborah Sweeney

@MyCorporation

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com.

“My favorite white elephant gifts – gifts that go fast during our office white elephant gift exchanges – are fuzzy, warm blankets. These make a fantastic gift to give and receive because white elephant exchanges generally occur during the holiday season when the temperature is much cooler outside. Blankets are also relatively inexpensive and perfect to take home and use for an added feeling of coziness.”


Nicole ReedNicole Reed

@TheNovaObserver

Nicole is the editorial assistant and an administrator and contributor at NovaObserver.com, a shared journalism site made for women by women. Nicole Reed is engaged to her wonderful fiancée, Lionel. Their wedding was delayed due to the current pandemic, but they aren’t sweating it because they are the happy parents of a 1 year old baby boy named Grayson who occupies all of their time anyway!

“I received one that is my absolute fav! It’s a portable table tennis set that you can use when you don’t have an actual ping pong table. The retractable net just attaches to a regular table and boom, a pop-up ping pong table! Check it out on Amazon.

Whenever my goddaughters (8 and 11) come over, we play with it for hours and hours. It’s so much fun. My favorite thing is how durable it is; the girls throw and slam the ping pong balls all over the place, and they never get so much as a dent. I’ve tried other ones in the past that got easily broken or banged up, but this one is very high quality, despite being less than $40. It comes with a retractable net, two paddles, and three balls (all wrapped up in a convenient pack that makes it easy to take anywhere).

I won’t lie, my fiancée and I play with it on our own from time to time and have a ball!”


Kevin LeeKevin Lee

@JourneyPure

Kevin Lee is the CEO of JourneyPure.

“Here are some of the best white elephant gifts I’ve seen in the past few years.

A breakfast sandwich maker can be popular with people who need to start off their day right with the perfect breakfast sandwich. Bluetooth karaoke microphones can also motivate people who love karaoke and singing to steal the gift at white elephant parties.

One particularly useful gift idea is a coaster that fits over the side of your sofa so that you can put cups, cans, and bottles into it the next time you’re settling into the couch to watch a movie or TV show.

I’ve also seen some fantastic Jeff Goldblum sequined pillows at parties that were a sought-after favorite.”


Amy McWatersAmy McWaters

@HamperEmporium

Amy McWaters is the CEO at The Hamper Emporium.

“Most people go for a quirky white elephant gift straight off the shelf. I’d recommend you to steal the show by buying a really old phone off of Ebay or a thrift shop. Print or write Time Machine on the box and wrap it with aluminum foil.

If you’re willing to go the extra mile, buy something bigger, like an ancient oven. The bigger the gift, the better in terms of inducing curiosity when people see ‘time machine’ written on the box.

You can even print a wacky instruction manual and put it inside the box. Give crazy instructions that would be really funny if the person actually tried it. For example, if your time machine is a phone, ask the person to dial 999, say the time and location, and jump three times like a praying mantis. The advantage of creating your own gift is that the possibilities are limitless.”


David CusickDavid Cusick

@House_Method

David Cusick is the Executive Editor at House Method.

“The best white elephant gift ideas are the ones that add a strategic element to the game. For example, puzzle boxes allow the player to decide if it’s worth the effort to find out what’s inside. This one is my favorite for hiding a bottle of wine.

Some players just can’t resist the mystery and challenge of the puzzle and feel compelled to steal, despite not knowing what’s inside. Just make sure what’s inside hits your price limit, but include the cost of the box as well, since it’s reusable fun for the eventual prize winner.”


Charlotte ShaffCharlotte Shaff

@charshaff

Charlotte Shaff runs a PR and Social Media company called The Media Push.

“The white elephant part is one of the biggest parts of the event every year. The BEST gift has always been wrapping up a Costco-sized package of toilet paper. Everyone wants toilet paper (I guess it might be even a bigger deal this year, haha). It is always intriguing to see a giant wrapped gift and wonder what it might be.”


Steve SilberbergSteve Silberberg

Steve Silberberg is the founder of the Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum. He is always looking for ways to add to his collection of over 3,000 air sickness bags.

“This is an inexpensive but useless white elephant gift that could lead to a lively, unexpected discussion: It’s a poster that features air sickness bags from around the world. Check it out here.”


Rex FreibergerRex Freiberger

@gadgetreview

Rex Freiberger is the CEO of Gadget Review.

“I’m a fan of white elephant gifts that are practical. I know that’s not always in the spirit of the exchange, but I’ve found our employees at least enjoy the event more when people give useful gifts instead of just gag gifts. There’s a big disparity created when someone gives a joke gift to one person and everyone else gets a nice gift for the price range.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it. Almost everyone loves random As Seen on TV gadgets. There are lots you can get within various white elephant price ranges. I also really enjoy the kits that tend to show up on store shelves close to the holidays – the ones to make your own Hostess cakes and other things like that. These can be both fun and practical, depending on the person.”


Laurice WardiniLaurice Wardini

Laurice is the Founder of a gift ideas website called GiftMighty.

“In my opinion, the best white elephant gift should be hilarious AND functional. Here are a few of my favorite white elephant gift ideas:

  • Inappropriate Coloring Book – This is a hilarious and inexpensive gift that everyone will love. When I gifted this, I paired it with a nice new set of coloring pencils to add some extra excitement. There are quite a few inappropriate coloring book options, anywhere from less extreme options to the extreme.
  • Inappropriate Candles – These are hilarious and awesome and can honestly be used as a beautiful home decor accent.
  • Butt Mug– Your family and friends will get a laugh out of this one. Plus, whoever ends up getting the gift will end up with a cute booty mug to drink their coffee out of! When I gifted this, I stuffed a few tea bags inside. You could also put hot chocolate or pair it with a bag of coffee. This particular option is sometimes sold out, so you might have to search the web for another option. Female form vases and planters are a lot more common if you want a similar option!”

Christina CayChristina Cay

@cmonmama

Christina is a mother of two and the creator of C’MON MAMA. With past work in radio and operations for a national theater chain (and a fun stint as Jessica Biel’s stunt double), motherhood is the greatest thing she’s ever done. She’s traveled the world, and her favorite place is home.

“I win the white elephant gift exchange every year by bringing the most popular, traded, and stolen gift: a candle. It sounds boring, but I wrap it in a Turkish towel as the gift bag, and let me tell you, that one little trick makes all the difference in the world.

Sure, candles are easy and foolproof to give, because everyone loves them and even if you have 20 at home, you can always keep more on hand. But, the reason my gift always is the most in-demand has nothing to do with the candle — it has everything to do with the wrapping.

By using a beautiful Turkish towel as my wrapping paper, it gives such a fun touch and turns it into two gifts instead of one. Turkish towels are lightweight and useful all year round. Everyone loves them. And everyone wants one.

For your next white elephant, grab whatever you want, but use this white elephant Turkish towel wrapping hack, and you’ll be golden.”


George PitchkhadzeGeorge Pitchkhadze

@ThriveCuisine

George Pitchkhadze is the CMO at Thrive Cuisine.

“Here are three of my top white elephant gift ideas that are fun and inexpensive:

  1. Nacho Diaz prints ($10-15): Nacho Diaz is a Barcelona-based graffiti artist. His brand is Naolito, where a lot of images feature vegan themes like avocados, broccoli, etc. You can get a pin for 10 euros, a print for 10-12, or a tote bag for 15, and the artwork is beautiful.
  2. Jungle Spoon ($15): 100% food-safe, 100% dishwasher safe, 100% cute, and vegan-friendly, this spoon is perfect for pasta, salad, and many other things. Plus, it adds a little fun to any and all kitchens.
  3. Bamboo travel utensil pack ($7.99): Vegans often pack food to go to make sure they have something to eat. A nice utensil pack like this, which comes with eco-friendly utensils and a convenient little bag to carry them, is perfect – and at $7.99, it’s within budget for most white elephant set-ups.”

Michael DeanMichael Dean

@poolresearch

Michael Dean is the Co-Founder at Pool Research.

“Here are three white elephant gift ideas that are perfect for pool owners as well as regular swimmers:

  1. UNO: Splash – $9.97 on Amazon: It’s UNO, only waterproof. Perfect for families, swimmers taking a break, and outdoor days/pool parties. I look forward to using my own UNO: Splash set when the kids come to visit this Halloween.
  2. LUSH Cupcake Mask – $9.95 on Lush USA: This gift’s owners have a convenient excuse to hang around a pool without actually getting into the water. It smells great, leaves the skin feeling moisturized and smooth, and makes for a wonderful gift. I really like getting that, ‘Wait, a chocolate FACIAL MASK?’ response from people when gifting this.
  3. Watermelon Ball – $24.99: The Watermelon Ball is a game ball that comes with a game that’s perfect for kids, adults, and everyone in between. It’s a little on the expensive side for white elephant pool parties, but if you have a $25+ gift limit, it’s a wonderful present to give.”

Nicole GarciaNicole Garcia

@most_craft

Frances Nicole Garcia is a Chief Marketing Officer of Most Craft. She has years of online marketing experience and oversees the company’s SEO and marketing relationships. She likes knitting, drawing, and everything in between.

“Holidays are around the corner, and exchanging gifts has been in our tradition for many years. I’m a morning coffee lover, and I remember receiving a coffee mug as a gift with a quote that says, ‘Don’t speak, hold on,’ and ‘Ok, I’m listening.’ I loved it so much because it sets my mood every time I use it. I also like to receive funny mean memes shirts. But if you want to follow today’s trend, funny face masks are also a great white elephant gift idea.”


Edible Arrangements® is your go-to destination for white elephant gift ideas and all your holiday gift-giving needs. Check out our collection of gifts under $30 and gifts under $50 to find the best white elephant gift ideas at any budget. A gift from Edible Arrangements® is sure to be the most sought-after and fought-over gift of the exchange!