Awesome Gift Ideas for a White Elephant Exchange

posted by Chris Valentine

white-elephantIt’s the most wonderful time of the year again, and with that comes time to give gifts for your family and friends.  Maybe you just received a Facebook invite to your friend’s Christmas party, or word is spreading about the company Holiday party.  There will be food, booze, and—let’s not forget—the white elephant gift exchange.  Buying a gift for this event can seem daunting, but don’t get overwhelmed!  This is supposed to be a fun game, and the anonymity of it all means the possibilities are only limited to your imagination (and maybe your wallet).  In fact, the shopping and crafting can be entertaining on its own, and it doesn’t have to break your bank account.  You can find these items at thrift stores, antique stores, 99 Cent stores, flea markets, or even in your own home!  So here’s a few tips on where to go and what to find so that when someone chooses your gift you become the hit of the party!


If you are going to a party where alcohol is appropriate, then more alcohol will always be welcome!  It’s an instant crowd-pleaser, as well as a great opportunity to exercise your sommelier skills.  Remember, white elephant gift exchanges usually have a budget limit, so there’s no need to dish out thirty dollars on a bottle of Woodford Reserve (although that wouldn’t be a bad idea).  Also if you are unsure of your group’s taste or you are joining a large party, don’t hesitate to get a bottle of something basic but delicious.  A light blended wine such as Apothic Red Table Wine will do the trick.

A Vinyl Record

There are nice gifts, and there are funny gifts.  When it comes to records, it can go either way.  Records have become collector’s items for the young and old alike, and modern record players have become a hot item.  Meander through the aisles of an antique store or record store and find one worthy of a laugh or a listen (or both).  Not everyone has a record player, but everyone can appreciate the sentiment of a beautiful looking record.  Records are often around ten dollars, which is just within the limits of many white elephant gift exchanges.  You could find a classic blues record if your friends enjoy that genre of music.   If your group belongs to the classic rock age, thumb through the records of the sixties and seventies and maybe you’ll find a Pink Floyd record.  For the pop-culture aficionados, don’t hesitate to get something funny.  You can always find a great album by the Village People—complete with a macho cover—at many thrift stores.  Even contemporary artists from Dr. Dre to Adele are releasing their EPs on records to emulate the classic sound.  There are nearly limitless options when buying records, and party-goers of all ages will appreciate them.

A “Trash-ure Box” gift

A trash-ure box is a play on a treasure box but it includes a mix-match of random items.  Sift through drawers and browse the ninety-nine cent stores for random objects.  Do you have an overabundance of Hello Kitty paraphernalia?  Or perhaps you have tons of bobble-heads or baseball gear from your local team.  Maybe throw some of those extra Hello Kitty key rings in there.  You could also add some fun-size candy for good measure.  This is a great gift for smaller get-togethers where everyone knows each other well.

A Christmas Sweater

Tacky Christmas sweaters started as a booming trend that has now become a staple of holiday parties.  Feel free to get the wackiest and tackiest sweater you can find—bedazzled with beads, strewn with tassels, and paraded with pom-poms (there are even sweaters for dogs).  Bonus if the host makes the recipient wear it for the rest of the party!

A Box of Chocolates

This is another popular item for large and small parties alike.  ‘Tis the season for eating all the sweets, so don’t hesitate to bring in a box of See’s Candy to bring a smile to almost anyone’s face.

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