Hosting a Christmas party? These tips to have a white elephant gift exchange are sure to help you liven up your next holiday party.
White elephant gift exchanges are fun twists on a traditional gift exchange. Especially if you have a large group of people, like at an office party or extended family gathering, a white elephant exchange is a great way to avoid the awkwardness of buying gifts for people if you don’t know their tastes.
So, if you’re thinking about having a white elephant gift exchange, here’s how to do it!
What is a white elephant gift exchange?
A white elephant gift exchange is a fun game to play at Christmas parties. Each player brings two wrapped gifts, a real present and a “white elephant” gag gift. During the gift exchange, each player will choose a wrapped gift, steal gifts from their friends, and exchange gifts.
What do you need to bring to a white elephant gift exchange?
- A list of the rules (see below for a free printable rules sheet)
- One “nice” gift (things like lottery tickets, coffee sets, grilling tools, etc. go over well in my family). You may also want to set a price limit, like $20, for nice gifts.
- One gag gift
What are the rules for a white elephant gift exchange?
There are many variations of a white elephant gift exchange. I think this version, played with dice, is the most fun!
Before hosting your white elephant gift exchange, let everyone who is planning on coming know the rules. Make sure everyone brings two gifts: one should be a gag gift and the other should be a nice gift of a predetermined value.
Also, both gifts should be wrapped similarly (i.e. don’t wrap the gag gift in a paper bag while the nice gift is wrapped in pretty paper) and do not label the gifts.
When you’re ready to play, gather all the presents in the center of the room. Everyone can sit in a circle around the gifts.
Decide who will go first. You can either draw numbers, start youngest to oldest, etc. It’s easiest if everyone sits in order.
The first person will choose a gift from the center. DO NOT open the gift, though.
Everyone will choose a gift. Once everyone has one gift, unwrap the presents. Once everyone’s gifts are opened, begin the exchange!
To start the exchange, the first person will roll the dice. Based on the number rolled, the person will either steal someone’s gift, choose one from the center, or switch gifts with someone.
As you’re rolling the dice, use this printable rules sheet to stay focused and keep your gift exchange “rolling.” 😉
Continue playing the game until all gifts have been opened.
At the end of the game, make sure everyone only has one “nice” gift. If someone has more than one, choose one to keep and then place the additional nice gifts back in the center. If someone doesn’t have a gift or only has a gag gift, allow them to choose one nice gift from the center until everyone leaves the game with a nice gift.
Fun white elephant gift ideas
The best white elephant gifts are funny or weird. I’ve wrapped one of my kids’ old toys, regifted old presents that I didn’t want or need, or even bought funny gifts from this list of gag gifts.
A white elephant gift exchange is a fun way to liven a holiday party. They’re great to have as an office gift exchange or even a large family Christmas party. You can have a separate one for kids and adults or have one large exchange.
I sometimes let my kids choose my gifts during my family’s adults only gift exchange, so there are fun ways to let kids participate, even if they’re not actually part of the exchange.
Have you participated in a white elephant gift exchange? What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?