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!
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.
Reacher Grabber Claw Tool $15
This is a fun but useful and highly stolen item. I’m not sure why, but I know I would want one too!
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Tracking Tags $20-$30
This is a gift that pretty much anyone could use, and many would covet! Attach one of these to your dog’s collar, your keychain, or whatever else you tend to lose track of.
Any iPhone user will love Air Tags.
Bluetooth Keyboard for Phones and Tablets $30
A Bluetooth keyboard is always a greatly desired and stolen item at white elephant parties. Check out the body language of the person who ended up with the Logitech keyboard that I brought after it was stolen three times:
Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard
This is the unit pictured above.
Foldable Bluetooth Keyboard
I purchased this folding keyboard for a trip and I actually use it at home to type on my phone because I hate typing on a screen. It works great!!
Phone Tripod $15-$30
Phone cameras are now good enough for most people’s photography needs. Therefore, a phone tripod can be pretty useful for those group selfies at holiday parties.
Portable Tire Inflator / Air Compressor $30
Carry this in your car to inflate your tire anywhere. Works off of your car’s 12 V battery.
Soft Throw Blanket $10-$30
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.
Heating Pad $20-$40
Similarly, a heating is guaranteed to be a winning gift on a cold winter day.
Kitchen Fire Extinguisher $15-$35
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 $20-$25
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.
First Aid Kit $20-$40
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 $10-$35
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:
Snoop Dogg Cookbook
This was the most popular item at the last white elephant party that I went to. Not sure if it’s a practical gift, fun gift, gag gift, or all of the above, but the appeal was unmistakable.
Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook
This book was stolen three times at the last white elephant party I attended!
Sushi Socks $20-$30
Fun but useful! Socks packaged like sushi!
Games are almost always highly sought after at white elephant parties.
I 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.
Streaming TV Device $25-$35
A Roku or Amazon Fire TV Stick will transform any modern TV into a “smart” TV, allowing you to watch internet streaming services.
Roku Streaming Stick
Amazon Fire TV Stick
“Lumio” Book Lamp or Knockoff $20-$30
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.
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!
Nerf Guns $15-$30
I don’t care how old you are, Nerf guns are awesome!
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 $20-$30
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 $20
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. Everyone thought it was hilarious. Surprisingly, these were actually stolen!
Framed High School Photo of Yourself $10-$30
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 a gag gift, the recipient can always use the frame for something nice, so it’s actually a nice gift too.
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!!
In fact, you can specify “used items only” for your gift exchange if you are eco-friendly and don’t want to generate more landfill. It can actually be more fun than trading new items!
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 at these types of parties and may be a bit boring.
What are some of the best White Elephant gift ideas that you’ve seen, given, or received? Let me know below! – Brian