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“White elephant” isn’t exactly a compliment. It often means something extravagant that no one wants. But a white elephant party, which is a party with an exchange of weird and wonderful gifts, can be a lot of fun. And, the chances are good that one day you’ll be invited to one. Gift exchanges can be tricky. You don’t want to spend more than the other guests. At the same time, you don’t want to appear cheap. So, what are some of the best gift ideas for a white elephant party on a budget?
White Elephant Parties 101
Finding the best gift ideas for a white elephant party on a budget first requires an understanding of what the game is all about. A white elephant party is as much about entertainment as it is about gifts. You’ll usually hear about white elephant parties around the Christmas season. But they can be used any time of the year and for any occasion.
Rules of the road
Hosts tend to put their own spin on the rules. But the basics of the event are common. Everyone brings a wrapped gift. The host gets to decide a not-to-exceed amount. At the start of the game, everyone draws a number to establish the order of gift selection.
The person who draws number one gets to choose from the gift pile first. The receiver unwraps the gift. It’s important to show the gift to everybody in the room. Otherwise, the game won’t work. Then, guests continue down the list in order. Each subsequent player has a choice. They can either select an unwrapped gift or “steal” one of the previous gifts. (If yours gets stolen, you get to choose another unwrapped gift.) Typically, there’s a limit on the number of times that you can be a victim of the “steal.”
According to White Elephant Rules, variations in the rules are not unusual. For instance, some party-givers have been known to add the “three strikes, and you’re out” rule to a gift. After three steals, the gift is no longer eligible to be stolen. The most important thing to note is that there is no “right” way to play the game. As long as everyone goes home with a gift, your white elephant party will be a hit. Add your own rules, and be creative!
Choosing a gift
The white elephant party brings stress to some people. Who is attending the party, you wonder, and what gift is appropriate? Will the other guests like your gift or find it silly or offensive?
Here’s our advice: don’t take it so seriously. The best gifts for a white elephant party are likely to be the ones with the least meaning, for both you and the giver. The idea is to get together in a cozy living room and have a few laughs.
How We Found the Best Gift Ideas for a White Elephant Party on a Budget
White elephant parties are now part of the cultural landscape. Every Christmas season you’ll find new lists of the best gift ideas for a white elephant party. But nothing substitutes for knowing your audience. Understand who you’re buying for, and you’re bound to have a great time.
Our Favorite Gift Ideas for a White Elephant Party
Without further ado, we present our carefully curated list of gift ideas for a white elephant party. We put the emphasis on gifts with both novelty and utility. So, not only might your gift become the talk of the party, but it might well become an item that puts a smile on someone’s face and helps provide a hack to get through the day.
Funemployed card game
First on our list of gift ideas for your white elephant party is a card-based party game in the vein of “Cards Against Humanity.” Funemployed pits players against each other in mock job interviews. You are dealt qualification cards. Build up the best credentials to qualify for the most jobs.
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These are not your typical qualification cards. You might be deemed as “sneaky” or “hungover.” Make your best case, and if you’re hired, you keep the cards. The player with the most successful hires wins!
Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover
Next on our list is a practical gift. If you, like me, have a clumsy or sloppy streak, then this might be truly one of the best gift ideas for a white elephant party on a budget. The Wine Away Red Wine Stain Remover has been featured on lifestyle segments on Good Morning America and Today and in publications that include Architectural Digest.
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The product is not just for clothes. You can use Wine Away on carpets and linens as well. And in addition to red wine, you can also try it for stains from punch, ink, pet accidents, and sports drinks.
Constellation Series Fridge Magnets
For the next item on our list, we turn to something that may become a conversation piece. Some of the items on our list of the best gift ideas for white elephant parties on a budget have a cool factor built into them. The Constellation Series of 12 Fridge Magnets could well be a conversation starter at your party and afterward.
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Each of the 12 magnets lights up to showcase a different constellation, aligned to the signs of the Zodiac. The glass magnets are round, and they can spark learning-based discussions with children. The magnets adhere to anything with a magnetic surface: a locker, a refrigerator, a whiteboard, or more.
Bye Buddy Enamel Pin
What’s old is new again. Our list of gift ideas for a white elephant party would be incomplete without at least one retro item. For that, we went with enamel pins, which have become a collectible phenomenon over the past few years. Interest continues to grow as new and different pins are put into circulation by artists.
One that caught our eye for its design was the Bye, Buddy pin. It’s a reference to the classic holiday movie, Elf, starring Will Ferrell as an overgrown, well, elf.
LEGO City Arctic Ice Glider
Some of the best gift ideas for a white elephant party are those that spark conversation. The Lego City Arctic Ice Glider fits the bill. It’s a piece that can become a decoration for an office or dresser or desk. Including just 50 pieces, this kit includes an explorer mini-figure, lights, map, radio, saw, and snowshoes.
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SipWell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws
One of the criteria that makes some of the best gift ideas for a white elephant party is whether it’s something a person would typically buy for themselves. That was our thinking as we included the SipWell Stainless Steel Drinking Straws.
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By this, we mean, unless you are extremely environmentally conscious, you might not buy these. But these straws have become increasingly popular as our environmental consciousness about the impact of plastic has grown. Use these straws in your favorite drink, and you’ll keep the plastic out of the landfill.
Blush Double Hinged Corkscrew
Another sure win when it comes to the best gifts for a white elephant party are items with an artistic or unusual flair. The Blush Double Hinged Corkscrew in the so-called “mirage” pattern will get the attention, even in the “steal” phase of the game.
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This corkscrew is billed as having kaleidoscopic color: a rainbow of pink, teal, yellow, and blue. The Blush Double Hinged Corkscrew includes a bottle opener and foil cutter in addition to the corkscrew.
The Hungover Cookbook
Here’s an item you might find useful at the other end of a bottle of wine. The Hungover Cookbook, by author Milton Crawford, adds a little science into the hangover recovery. The book primarily includes recipes for easing a hangover.
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However, it also will give you some added value. You’ll find quizzes and tests for assessing the severity of your hangover and assessing your progress. As the book jacket says, this book helps provide a “fascination with the mind’s strange acrobatics.”
Sometimes the best gifts for a white elephant party appeal to the child inherent in all of us. We found Rocket Copters irresistible in this regard. You could use these both as a party favor, or bring it home to share with your children. The Rocket Copters start off like rockets but return to earth as helicopters.
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If you’re lucky, you’ll launch yours to the full height of 120 feet. On the way down, the copters will give a “dazzling spinning light show,” the manufacturer’s promise.
Hasbro Jenga Mini Game
You can probably tell by now that we have a preference for fun and games. So, for our concluding item, we won’t disappoint. In compiling this list of the best gift ideas for a white elephant party, we loved the idea of the Jenga Mini-Game. Jenga is typically played at home. It’s a game of nerves as players seek to continue building a tower by borrowing pieces elsewhere in the structure.
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The mini-structure includes 18 Jenga blocks. It’ll be perfect for road trips or even for your children to take with them on visits to a friend’s house.
Gift Ideas for a White Elephant Party Explored
With so many choices, you might be wondering: What’s best on our list of gift ideas for a white elephant party? The answer to that question will be different for everyone and depends on the other party attendees. If it’s a fun-loving group, our preference leans toward the Funemployed card game, because of the laughs it will bring.
On the other hand, for a more traditional crowd, we’d probably prefer the enamel pins or constellation fridge magnets. Whatever you choose, just remember: the white elephant party is fun not so much for the gifts you give, but for the laughter you create.