Which White Elephant gift is best?

The gift-giving season is a fun one, especially when it comes to holiday parties. In lieu of traditional gift-giving to each person in an office or group, White Elephant gift parties are cost-effective, fun alternatives.

Once a price point is decided on by the group, participants purchase a gift to bring to the party. Since you don’t know who will end up with it, part of the fun is coming up with something funny, practical, or shocking. You can play it safe with a tame gift that has universal appeal or go for shock value with a gag gift.

To help you choose the perfect White Elephant gift, read our buying guide. We’re including our favorite gift idea, Buzzfeed’s Social Sabotage, which is sure to inspire laughs, or at the very least, interesting conversations.

What to know before you buy a White Elephant gift

How the game works

To organize the White Elephant gift game, first determine how many guests are involved in the exchange. Next, decide on a price point for gifts, keeping them affordable for everyone. After that, set the ground rules: if you don’t want mature-themed gifts or prefer nonfood items, let people know before they begin shopping.

At the time of the party, guests arrive with their wrapped White Elephant gifts. Numbers are pulled to see who gets first pick at the gifts, or can steal someone else’s. If you’re truly following the rules, guests are only able to steal two gifts. Lastly, everyone opens their gift to see their surprise.

Choose gifts based on the type of group

White Elephant gifting can push the limits with funny gifts among friends and relatives, but they might not be appropriate for the office or team parties. Not everyone has the same sense of humor, so a good rule is to purchase a gift that won’t cause someone to look at you differently after opening it. On the other hand, if you’re with friends and try to outdo one another, the sky’s the limit.

Popular gifting ideas

  • Something that involves others: White Elephant gifts that involve others includes board games, food baskets, or even popular DVDs. These make great family-friendly gifts and boost the chances that your gift will be used and enjoyed by as many people as possible. Food baskets can also take the shape of giant popcorn tins, cookie trays, or specialty baking projects.
  • Something that solves a problem: Practical gifts might seem boring, but consider a common problem among the group to which everyone can relate. Power banks are great for charging devices on the go, and car de-icer kits help someone clean off their car for a safe ride home in snowy conditions. Leather shoe care kits are also popular, as they include products that can be used on other leather items.
  • Something for self-care: Self-care White Elephant gifts are thoughtful and safe options. They’re items that the recipient will enjoy but would not necessarily purchase for themselves. These can be bath and spa sets or small aromatherapy kits. Gift cards also fall into this category, especially for popular local restaurants or coffee shops.

How much you can expect to spend on a White Elephant gift

White Elephant gifts usually have $10-$25 limits among friends and coworkers. Some families opt to spend a little bit more and may push it to as much as $50.

White Elephant gifts FAQ

Q. I’m concerned the recipient won’t like or can’t use their White Elephant gift. What should I do?

A. Since you don’t know who’ll end up with the gift, consider including the gift receipt. That way, if the gift isn’t to their liking, they can discreetly return it for something they’ll truly enjoy.

Q. Should we include children in the White Elephant gift exchange?

A. It can get expensive if you start to include children, as parents end up footing the bill for an extra gift. You can do a modified exchange for children and limit it to less than $5 per child if it’s affordable and amenable to the whole family.

What White Elephant gifts are best to buy?

Top White Elephant gift

Buzzfeeds Social Sabotage

Buzzfeed’s Social Sabotage

Our take: Get the whole party involved with an activity that garners belly laughs galore.

What we like: See which of your friends has the guts to send or post embarrassing stories on their social media channels.

What we dislike: Can have personal and professional repercussions, so choose your company wisely with this one.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top White Elephant gift for the money

Best Tipsy Elves Christmas Onesies for Adults

Tipsy Elves Christmas Onesies For Adults

Our take: A budget-conscious White Elephant gift. Will become a seasonal favorite for the recipient.

What we like: Cute design and cozy fit. Great gift for the person who is truly a homebody in the colder months.

What we dislike: Some people found it to be too small.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Our take: Genuinely thoughtful gift. Light reading offering useful life hacks from the Danish way to live well.

What we like: All-encompassing subject material including fitness, fashion, décor, and even recipes.

What we dislike: Pretty inexpensive. You may need to pair it with something else to meet your White Elephant price limit.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

YETI Rambler Insulated 10-Ounce Lowball

Yeti Rambler Insulated 10-Ounce Lowball 

Our take: Yeti’s lowball comes with the brand’s signature MagSlider Lid that seals in heat and cold so beverages are enjoyed at optimal temperatures.

What we like: It’s vacuum-insulated to keep drinks hot or warm for several hours. The sweat-free design keeps hands and gloves dry, and the sturdy construction will allow you to enjoy this vessel for a long time. 

What we dislike: It keeps beverages ice-cold, but it is not as effective at keeping them warm. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Dash Mini Waffle Maker

Dash Mini Waffle Maker

Our take: This travel- and dorm-friendly mini waffle maker is a quick and easy way to whip up a favorite comfort food.

What we like: It heats up and cooks waffles within minutes. The cool-touch handle allows for safe waffle retrieval. It is available in many designs, including festive ones. 

What we dislike: If you plan on making several waffles at a time, this model is not ideal. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Armor All Car Wash and Cleaner Kit

Armor All Car Wash and Cleaner Kit

Our take: Not only does this set come with full-size products, but it’s also a convenient gift that most people can use. 

What we like: The products are formulated by a trusted brand known for its streak-free shine, and there’s enough in this kit to cover at least half a dozen cleanings. A bonus pack of four air fresheners is also included.

What we dislike: The glass wipes may dry out quickly, even though they’re packaged in a resealable tube. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Squishable Mini Plush Avocado

Squishable Mini Plush Avocado

Our take: It’s hard to outshine this cuddly avocado at white elephant exchanges. 

What we like: At 7 inches, this thick and soft avocado is an ideal kids’ plush toy or decorative pillow. It features a friendly face and vibrant green colors. 

What we dislike: This avocado may fall over if it’s not leaned against something. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Zulay Original Milk Frother

Zulay Original Milk Frother

Our take: This best-selling handheld milk frother comes with a sleek chrome stand, making it practical and presentation-worthy. 

What we like: The Zulay is simple to operate for beginners, and the steel whisk is easy to clean and rinse off. It can froth all milk varieties, including soy creamers and nut milks.

What we dislike: The frother and stand can be knocked over easily.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

The Big One Oversized Super Soft Plush Throw

The Big One Oversized Super Soft Plush Throw

Our take: At 60 inches by 72 inches, this super-soft patterned throw is ideal for cozying up on the couch. 

What we like: This throw is warm without being bulky, and it retains its natural plush texture well, no matter how often it’s washed. Additionally, it is a kid-friendly white elephant gift option. 

What we dislike: It’s notably thinner than premium-priced throws. 

Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s

Cross Bailey Ballpoint Pen

Cross Bailey Ballpoint Pen

Our take: This Cross pen features a timeless design that is ideal for white elephant exchanges at work. 

What we like: The well-balanced design is comfortable for long periods of writing. Sleek polished chrome details give it an upscale appearance. It will last through years of use. 

What we dislike: It’s much heavier and thicker than everyday disposable pens.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Godinger Hammered Copper Moscow Mule Mug Set

Godinger Hammered Copper Moscow Mule Mug Set

Our take: Since Moscow Mules are a favorite festive beverage, this four-mug set is an ideal white elephant gift.

What we like: The copper-plated mugs feature the signature hammered design and slender handles. Stainless steel construction makes the mugs more durable than most. 

What we dislike: The mugs require hand-washing, otherwise they may get stained or damaged in dishwashers. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best FreshJax Organic Spices Gift Set

FreshJax Organic Spices Gift Set

Our take: Recipients get to take a trip around the world every time they try one of these organic spices.

What we like: This set includes a well-rounded variety of international flavors, and it comes in a giftable box. The spices are vegan-friendly, non-GMO and gluten-free. 

What we dislike: The spices can taste smoky initially. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

HoMedics Bubble Mate Foot Spa

HoMedics Bubble Mate Foot Spa

Our take: If you’re looking for a self-care gift, this affordable bubbly foot spa is the top choice. 

What we like: It delivers a relaxing experience with invigorating bubbles. The splash guard minimizes the potential for spills, and toe-touch controls let users adjust settings without much effort.

What we dislike: Unlike similar foot spas, this model does not have heat settings. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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