White Elephant gift ideas

The Best White Elephant “Yankee Swap” Gift Exchange Ideas

After going to my fair share of White Elephant gift exchange parties (also known as Yankee Swaps), I’ve compiled a list of the most fun gifts I’ve seen.

In case you’re not familiar with the concept of a White Elephant gift exchange, each of the guests brings a wrapped gift. These can be funny or gag gifts, or they can be something genuinely useful. The participants draw numbers. The person with number one must choose a wrapped gift and open it.  All subsequent participants have the option of stealing a previously-opened gift or picking a new wrapped one.  There is usually a limit to the number of times a gift can be stolen, often two times.

It’s a really fun party game if some of the gifts are gag gifts, while others are sought-after and stolen.

Here are some great White Elephant gift ideas that I’ve seen!

Practical Gifts


One rule of thumb for practical gifts is to get something that you could use yourself. That way, if your gift is a dud with everyone else, you can steal it and at least one person will have a gift they want.

Soft Throw Blanket

You pretty much can’t go wrong with a soft throw blanket gift in the winter. This is our “go to” white elephant gift when we can’t think of anything else, and it’s always immediately stolen.

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Kitchen Fire Extinguisher

This might seem like a strange gift idea, but I went to a white elephant gift exchange where the fire extinguisher was the hottest item! Everyone SHOULD have one, but many people don’t!

Stud Finder

This is another gift that you wouldn’t think of, but is actually pretty useful if you are hanging heavy framed pictures or mounting shelves on your walls. And, when someone opens it and announces “stud finder”, it’s actually kind of hilarious.

Bluetooth Keyboard for Phones and Tablets

Folks who hate typing on tiny touch screens will like this one. I brought this to a party once and it was immediately “stolen”.

First Aid Kit

Another item everyone needs yet most people don’t have! It’s good to have one in the car, in addition to home.

Kitchen Tools / Appliances

Kitchen tools and appliances often make their appearance at White Elephant parties and seem to be highly sought-after. Some are gag gifts and some are actually useful. The funniest kitchen tool I’ve ever seen at a party has got to be “The Veggetti”. Say it out loud in a group and you’re guaranteed laughs (“Don’t touch my Veggetti”, etc.)

For a more useful gift, how about a citrus juicer? I brought one of these last year and it was stolen twice:

Fun Gifts


“Lumio” Book Lamp or Knockoff

If you watch Shark Tank, you might know of the “Lumio” book light which got a deal and is on the market. It’s a book that lights up when you open it.

Veesee 8-Color Book Lamp
Veesee 8-Color Book Lamp

Unfortunately, the Lumio costs between $150 and $200. The good news is that there are knockoffs that are much more affordable on Amazon!

I bought the Veesee 8-Color Book Lamp and it works great!! I’ve brought it out at a couple of parties and it was a huge hit, at a fraction of the cost of the original!

Amazon Echo Dot

If you want to give a highly-coveted item, check out the Amazon Echo Dot, which might fall within budget. I gave this last year and it was vigorously stolen!

Games

Games are a fun gift and can be very sought-after, depending on what kind of crowd you’re dealing with.

A very popular White Elephant gift for adults is “Cards Against Humanity”, sort of an R-rated version of “Apples to Apples”.

I also like a game called “Codenames”. You divide into two teams and one person gives a one-word hint to try to get their teammates to guess as many cards as possible. It requires some concentration but can be a fun party game because there are just two teams and people can come and go as they please (unlike other games where if someone leaves, the game can’t really continue).

We also enjoy Hive Mind, a fun and easy game.

Used CDs / DVDs

I wrapped up a small stack of my favorite used CD’s (which I had already ripped to my computer) for a gift exchange once. I thought people would find this “cheap”, so I brought a store-bought gift as well.  To my surprise, the CD’s were stolen three times, while my store-bought item wasn’t stolen even once!

I included a lot of “greatest hits” compilations of popular bands, so it worked as a legit gift.

To make this a gag gift, find some of the worst bands in the 99 cent bin of your local used CD store (i.e., Vanilla Ice).

Used DVDs can also be good (are you really going to watch those movies again?) Depending on which movies you give, this can also be a gag gift or something sought after. If you’re willing to spend a little, check out the $1.99 DVD bin to find some really cheesy, and often hilarious, gift ideas.

Nerf Guns

I don’t care how old you are, Nerf guns are awesome!

Gag Gifts


OK, you might want to check with the host of the party to see if gag gifts are appropriate. Some parties are full of them, while others frown upon them. In any case, you might want to supplement these with a gift card so they get stolen.

Keanu Reeves Pillow

The recipient of this hilarious gag gift will never go to bed alone. You can substitute any male or female sex symbol, but Keanu is awesome.

Novelty Underwear

Another great gag gift is novelty underwear. At one of the parties I went to, someone gave a pair of gaudy “Guitar Hero” boxer shorts. Surprisingly, these were actually stolen!

Framed High School Photo of Yourself

My favorite gag gift of all time was a framed high-school photo that someone brought of herself. Totally self-deprecating. I couldn’t stop laughing. While this is definitely gag gift, the recipient can always use the frame for something nice, so it’s actually a nice gift too.

Squatty Potty

Surely you’ve seen the YouTube video with the unicorn. This is a gag gift that a lot of people actually swear by.

Personal Toiletry Items

Figuring out what these are for will be half the fun. Guaranteed laughs.

Re-Gift Something You Already Have

Have you ever received a particularly awful gift? A White Elephant exchange is a perfectly socially-acceptable place to pass it along to someone else!!


Common White Elephant Gifts

Common white elephant gifts include wine, sweets, and soaps. These are not necessarily bad, and some are sought-after, but just head’s up that they occur frequently in these types of parties and may be a bit boring.

What Else?

What are some of the best White Elephant gift ideas that you’ve seen, given, or received? Let me know below! – Brian

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