Best white elephant gift ideas under $20

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If you’d like to make your white elephant gift stand out in the pile, wrap it with colorful paper. Or, you can invest in blank gift paper and decorate it with creative designs.

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Which white elephant gift ideas under $20 are best?

A white elephant gift exchange is a fun way to engage guests at parties. Some participants try to out-do one another with unusual or impractical gifts, whereas others opt for tried-and-true gifts that most recipients can appreciate.

The rules of white elephant exchanges are simple, and to begin playing, all you need to do is go shopping for a gift within the recommended price range. If the top-dollar amount is $20, rest assured that there are dozens of options that will excite, delight or impress recipients.

What to know about white elephant gift exchanges

What is a white elephant gift exchange?

A white elephant gift exchange is a party game where everyone buys a gift, wraps it and adds it to the pile. Participants then draw numbers from a hat, with whoever pulls number one picking a gift first and so on. When it’s someone’s turn, they select a gift from the pile.

Once a participant selects a gift and unwraps it, they have a few options. They can keep their gift, exchange it for another one in the pile or swap it for someone else’s unwrapped gift. When a gift has been “owned” by three participants, it’s no longer eligible for swapping. The game ends after the last gift has been unwrapped. 

Other rules for white elephant gift exchanges

There are a few more rules for white elephant gift exchanges worth noting:

  • Most white elephant gift exchanges designate a maximum dollar amount, which typically ranges from $1 to $100.
  • A gift can’t be “stolen” by the next player if it was already swapped in the previous turn.
  • Some white elephant gift exchanges have “last calls” after the game is over, in which participants can swap gifts with anyone else willing to swap.
  • Some individuals host themed white elephant gift exchanges. Popular themes include Star Wars-, food- or season-oriented gifts. 

Can I spend less than the maximum amount on white elephant gifts?

Many participants wonder whether spending less than the designated maximum amount on white elephant gifts is acceptable. In short, it depends on the situation. 

Some individuals are savvy shoppers and leverage sales and coupons to get gifts at lower prices. While no one will know these gifts are purchased under budget, most people are aware they’re a reasonable gift within the price range.

On the other hand, if you opt for a gift that is noticeably less than the maximum dollar amount, it may disappoint recipients. For example, if the maximum dollar amount is $20 and you purchase a small candy bar for $1, It’s generally not viewed as an acceptable gift in most situations. 

Popular categories of white elephant gifts

If you’re not sure how to begin shopping for white elephant gifts, here are the most common gift categories:

  • Food and drink items are generic gifts that most recipients can enjoy. Snack assortments, bottles of wine or specialty popcorn are all popular. 
  • All-ages-friendly gifts are ideal for mixed age groups. Many people opt for family board games, PG-rated DVDs and even some food and drink items.
  • Funny or gag gifts are popular for lighthearted white elephant gift exchanges. These often include novelty socks and comical household products. 
  • Practical gifts include items that most recipients may find useful, like gift cards, picture frames or kitchen utensils

12 best white elephant gift ideas for $20 and below

White elephant mug

Volar Elephant Mug

Volar Elephant Mug
This stout little mug, which is both white and an elephant, is an affordable option often given with a small box of tea. If the recipient isn’t a tea drinker, they can use the mug as a succulent planter.

Sold by Amazon

Electric wine opener

Oster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener

Oster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener

If you’re looking for a practical gift that isn’t boring, this electric wine bottle opener is a fun alternative to the traditional corkscrew. On a single charge, the cordless device opens up to 30 bottles.

Sold by Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond

Gourmet chocolate

Godiva Chocolatier Assorted Chocolate

Godiva Chocolatier Assorted Chocolate 

A popular food item gift, this Godiva assortment includes 20 cookies emblazoned with rich milk chocolate. They’re packaged in a presentable gift box that is reusable.

Sold by Amazon

All-ages card game

What Do You Meme? Family Edition

What Do You Meme? Family Edition

Ideal for a mixed-ages crowd, this funny card-based game is suitable for ages eight and older. It includes 300 caption cards and 65 photo cards that most people, especially meme enthusiasts, will enjoy.

Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Car cleaning kit

Armor All Car Wash and Interior Cleaner Kit

Armor All Car Wash and Interior Cleaner Kit

This five-piece car cleaning kit includes everything a recipient needs to give their car a pro-level wash. The kit includes full-size products that lend themselves to several washes.

Sold by Amazon

Amazon gift card

Amazon $20 gift card

Amazon $20 gift card

If you’re not sure what to give, a $20 Amazon gift card is an ideal option that lets recipients choose their gift among millions of products, including Kindle and Audible subscriptions or titles. 

Sold by Amazon

Mug

Le Creuset Stoneware Mug

Le Creuset Stoneware Mug

Le Cruset is a premium kitchen brand, but you don’t need to spend big bucks to pick up this gift-worthy stoneware mug. It features classic Le Creuset styling and is suitable for everyday use.

Sold by Amazon and Macy’s

Snack variety

Sweet Choice Snack Box Variety Pack

Sweet Choice Snack Box Variety Pack

This snack assortment, popular for all-ages exchanges, includes 20 best-selling treats like Snyder’s Mini Pretzels and Twizzlers. It arrives in a giftable box that is easy to wrap.

Sold by Amazon

Unisex scarf

Plum Feathers Super Soft Luxurious Scarf

Plum Feathers Super Soft Luxurious Scarf

A simple unisex scarf, like this design, is versatile enough to keep all recipients warm and cozy. The scarf, made with soft acrylic, is available in 40 plaid variants and has fringe detail.

Sold by Amazon

Espresso maker

Godmom Stovetop Espresso Maker

Godmom Stovetop Espresso Maker

Handmade beverages are expensive at cafés, which is why this stovetop espresso maker is a big hit as a white elephant gift. The sleek stainless steel design is available in 4- and 6-cup sizes.

Sold by Amazon

Premium pen

Cross Bailey Ballpoint Pen

Cross Bailey Ballpoint Pen

This elegant Cross pen, a best-selling design, is a practical gift that many recipients may use daily. The pen uses Cross’ signature ink, which glides across paper and delivers a high-quality writing experience.

Sold by Amazon

Waffle maker

Oster Belgian Waffle Maker

Oster Belgian Waffle Maker

A fun, practical gift, this Belgian waffle maker features an 8-inch nonstick cooking plate that makes waffles within a few minutes. It has adjustable temperature control so the recipient can select the ideal crispness level.

Sold by Amazon

 

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