Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this post may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which keeps the lights on and the tax collector paid. Many thanks for your support! Disclosure in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.
Whether you’re looking for a new way to host a holiday gift exchange at work or for a family function, a white elephant exchange could be a fun way to receive a great (or hysterical) gift.
When planning a white elephant exchange, you have several options depending on your particular situation. There are several variations on this idea, but most have a few consistent rules. Most games start with rules that are similar to this:
- The gift must relate to the party theme
- The gift should fall within a certain dollar range
- The gift should be something that the recipient will want or use
- The gift should be wrapped before the party
- At the party, gifts should be held in an area where few people will see the gifts and who placed them in that location. The identity of the gift giver should try to remain hidden.
- Everyone who wishes to participate MUST bring a gift!
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your exchange, you can set the rules for the actual distribution of gifts. Again, there are several variations to the white elephant exchange and three are shared below.
The Simple White Elephant Exchange
- This simple version starts with each guest drawing a number out of hat/bowl/etc – there should be a number per person per each gift. The person who draws number one chooses a gift to unwrap, then the person who draws number two can choose the gift unwrapped by number one or choose an unwrapped gift. The person with number three could choose the unwrapped gifts from persons one and two, or choose a new unwrapped gift. This continues until all people participating have a gift.
The Competitive White Elephant Exchange
- This next version is a more competitive version of the game listed above. This version also has the possibility to go on and on and on, depending on how many people you have and how many popular gifts you have. Therefore, the same drawing rules from above are used again, but once a gift has shifted hands FIVE times, it becomes frozen so that whomever the is the fifth person with that gift is stuck with it.
The Super-Simple White Elephant Exchange
- This next one is the simplest white elephant exchange version that I have ever seen. You repeat the same plan for drawing a number as above, but this time you don’t unwrap the gifts. You get to choose based on the outer appearance of the gift. Then, after the final person has chosen a gift or taken someone else’s gift, all presents can be unwrapped at the same time.
Any white elephant exchange could be set up to meet the needs of your party guests, family members, or coworkers. The most important thing to remember when it comes to white elephant exchanges is that they should be fun. It’s an easy way to set up a little friendly competition where everyone receives a gift in the end!
FREE Gift Planner
Plan your gift giving, record good ideas when you have them and figure out your budget, all in our easy to use Planner