Just like a traditional gift, a white elephant gift is all about spreading holiday cheer to the person who receives it.
The way you go about spreading the holiday cheer, however, is a bit different.
When shopping for presents, the goal isn’t to buy something thoughtful. The purpose is entertainment.
Designed to produce joy through shock, silliness or utter uselessness, these gifts for a white elephant party leave people doubled over in laughter or covering their faces in embarrassment.
Finding the right mix of silly and shocking without crossing the line makes buying this type of gift harder than a traditional one for many people.
Browse our mix of white elephant gift ideas. You’re sure to find something hilarious for coworkers, friends or family.
The Best White Elephant Gift Ideas in 2020
1. Go Away Funny Glass Coffee Mug
Perfect for the person who doesn’t like to socialize before they’ve had their morning java, this cup does the talking for them.
Three marked levels on the beaker-style glass – “Go Away,” “Not Yet” and “How Can I Help You?” – alert people to whether or not it’s safe to approach this coffee drinker.
High quality glass, a heavy base and thick handle make this attractive coffee mug one of the top white elephant gifts everyone will fight for at your holiday party.
Start shopping mugs at Cafe Press to get the best deals and cash back.
2. Beer Belly Fanny Pack
A great example of just how hilarious white elephant gifts $20 and under can be, this one is great for all those who love beer.
This fanny pack has a fake belly design (complete with a hairy bellybutton) that will put a smile on everyone’s face.
With a spacious compartment for carrying items and an adjustable strap, it’s a head-turning gag gift sure to win you points for hilarity.
Find this fanny pack and a lot more at Ali Express.
3. Nostalgia Coca-Cola Pop Up Hot Dog Toaster
Yes, you read that correctly. Good white elephant gifts like this one may look silly, but they can be quite useful.
Three slots at the top toast 2 buns and 2 regular or extra-plump hot dogs at the same time. This pop-up hot dog toaster comes with adjustable timer settings, mini tongs and a hot dog cage.
If there is someone that is always talking about “the good ole days” or simply loves hot dogs, this toaster will bring some serious joy and cause some serious jealousy.
Buy this toaster at Walmart and get up to 5% cash back!
4. If You Can Read This – Novelty Socks
White elephant gifts for work can be tricky, but this one is low risk and sure to be a hit with anyone who really likes wine but isn’t always in the mood to get it on their own.
Made from premium yarn, these socks look ordinary until you kick your feet up for a little rest. Anyone close enough to read the bottom of these socks will get a funny message.
Even if they’ve never lifted their feet up before, they will once they put these socks on.
Find these socks at Zazzle but get your coupon codes first.
5. Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist
Is there a book-loving cocktail enthusiast in need of a great gag gift? If so, this one will really make their day and show you really care about them making better drinks.
Clever, hilarious and completely unexpected, this book turns literary classics into fantastic cocktails. Whoever receives it will be able to make tons of drinks based on books they know and love – or hate!
When done right, a book can be one of the more creative white elephant gifts. Grab some coupons before heading over to Amazon for this book!
6. Dammit Doll
Made to be screamed at, thrown around and squeezed, this doll is here to support the person lucky enough to take it home from your holiday gift exchange.
It comes in a number of fun prints, has funky yarn hair and includes a short poem on its belly that can be recited when times are truly hard.
The pressures of life get to students, employees, parents and friends so why not show them you care with one of the most perfect gag white elephant gifts?
Check out some promo codes and deals before heading over to Amazon for this Dammit Doll.
7. Desktop Cornhole
The most iconic lawn game can now be played at the desk.
Hope they can actually play however, because it is TINY. The bean bags are smaller than a thumb nail and the board no bigger than a dollar bill. It is impossible to play and hysterical to watch anyone try.
One of the best white elephant gifts for the office, this game of mini cornhole is the time-wasting distraction they didn’t know they needed.
8. Fries on the Fly Car Cup Holder
Everyone appreciates funny white elephant gifts and this one has the advantage of being multifunctional.
Few things will be as rewarding as driving safely while chowing down on fries from a favorite fast-food restaurants. Simply put this tray in a car cup holder and it will catch all the grease, crumbs and ketchup stains that a bag simply can’t.
Of course it doesn’t have to be fries, it is versatile so they can also put candy in it too. Find some promo codes and deals at eBay before picking up this fry cup!
9. Adult Achievement Stickers
As far as funny white elephant gifts, this one is high up there and is perfect for any and every adult.
Adults don’t get enough credit for all that they do, but these 16 stickers give them a chance to congratulate themselves. If they “almost went to the gym today” or “paid their bills on time” there is a sticker that lets them tell the world about it.
Being an adult is hard, but you can make someone’s day better by bringing this to the gift swap!
Start shopping at Red Bubble for the best deals!
10. 6-Pack of Beer Greeting Cards
For some, the most important moments are shared over a beer. But giving beer as a gift isn’t always easy. That all changes with this gift idea.
It is a holiday gift box complete with a greeting card, ready to load with beer bottles. The lucky person who receives this gift can either use it to give the gift of beer, or you can add that part yourself.
One of the beer-related white elephant gifts funny enough to take people’s minds off the fact that beer isn’t included, this one is an automatic winner.
Get this beer greeting card plus other personalized gifts at Personalization Mall.
11. Game of Scones
Not for the weak of heart, and definitely not for people who don’t love Game of Thrones, this cookbook will keep the recipient laughing and baking.
Clever titles and hilarious pictures of food matching the insanely popular HBO show await the cooking enthusiast and are guaranteed to be one of the best white elephant gifts in your exchange.
You’ll be a legend. Start shopping for this book at Target.
12. Google Cardboard Virtual Reality Headset
Who says high tech has to be made from durable titanium and silicon? Cardboard works just as well.
This “headset” is a smartphone holder with lenses that give the user an immersive experience. It’s actually pretty cool.
Be warned, however. The person who gets this will see it has Google in the name and they will most likely get excited, so have your phone ready to capture their true disappointment.
Ideas for white elephant gifts don’t get much better than this one.
13. Book of Dad Jokes
Sometimes people need help telling a joke and this book is going to help the lucky beneficiary do just that, but probably pretty poorly.
Give the gift of groans to a new father or bring it to the office in hopes that you-know-who picks your gift during the swap.
Armed with the worst jokes on the planet – those that dads really think are hilarious – this fun white elephant gift will hopefully never be used in public.
14. Gallium Metal
Not just any metal – this one melts in your hands.
It can transfer from liquid or solid and back again and comes in a really nice vial. It looks so mysterious everyone will want to take it home, making you a white elephant gift-giving rock star.
Depending on what you consider great white elephant gifts to be, this one is useless, cool and best of all confusing.
15. Gold Grillz
Let the fashion forward person in your life know that you respect their style game with this set of 24 karat gold-plated teeth.
This one-size-fits-all top and bottom grillz set has 4 molding bars, a hard case for storage and a micro cloth for cleaning.
With a guaranteed custom fit for all shaped mouths, this is a great gift for the white elephant swap no recipient will soon forget.
16. Flavored Water Cup
Useful white elephant gifts, though unexpected, are definitely appreciated and whoever wins this one is going to be very appreciative.
Drinking water is important but is a chore for some people. Through a combination of aromatic fruit flavors and proprietary technology, this cup can trick your brain into thinking the water you drink is flavored.
Whatever flavor the brain craves the drinker will taste and, best of all, they will be getting the hydration they need – unless they pour soda in the cup.
17. The Original Baconkit
Bacon is a beloved food, so giving the gift of homemade bacon at the next gift exchange just makes sense and is perfect for the office, family and friends.
It comes with a curing bag, pink curing salt, premium maple sugar and a thermometer. Obviously the gag here is that there’s no bacon included, so they’ll have to get some pork belly on the way home.
The best white elephant gifts under $30 aren’t supposed to be this good.
Save on your next bacon kit when you shop at The Grommet.
18. Foodie Dice
You’re definitely doing whoever wins this gift a favor because there are some days where it is very hard to figure out what you want to eat, even when you’re hungry.
With a role of the dice, inspiration for creating simple meals comes. There are five dice that cover cooking method, grain/carb, herbs, protein and a bonus ingredient and four dice for seasonal vegetables.
An awesome white elephant gift for almost anyone, it’s nice when someone – or something – else can make the food choice every now and then.
Save on Foodie Dice and other items when you shop through Uncommon Goods.
19. Funny Novelty Drink Coasters
These high-quality coasters will do more than protect a table, they will also provide people with a good laugh as they drink.
A set of 6, these funny gifts for a white elephant exchange each feature a unique saying that adds an element of wit to the atmosphere, not to mention major personality.
Reusable and durable, these cork-backed coasters will bring a smile every time someone places a glass down them.
Shop at Zazzle for these fun novelty drink coasters.
20. Blah Button
Sometimes white elephant gifts for the office or Christmas are so good, you may end up keeping it for yourself. This is one of those gifts.
When used, the Blah Button is going to end boring conversations quickly and quite hilariously. The blue and yellow button comes with 12 difference phrases, all of which say Blah Blah Blah in their own special way.
This fun and wacky gag gift is completely impractical and anyone who gets it will love it.
21. The Hungover Cookbook
Look, life is hard. It gets even harder when you have been drinking the night before.
With this fantastic example of a white elephant gift, you can show colleagues, family members and close friends just how much you understand what they’re going through and what they can do to feel better.
This cookbook has dozens of recipes, quizzes to track progress and clever graphics that analyze the hungover state of mind so the holder of this book stays in the house if need be. They will thank you.
Frequently Asked Questions
- A White Elephant gift isn’t just a swap, it is also a competition. People want to take the best gift home. It’s usually the most ridiculous one, but it all depends on luck, chance and instinct.
- The game is going to get competitive (it’s supposed to!). But don’t forget it’s a bonding experience and should be fun and entertaining.
What Are the Rules of a White Elephant Swap Exchange?
Though rules vary throughout workplaces and in different regions of the country, there are some basics for a White Elephant gift exchange.
That being said, the more rules the better – make it all your own!
1. Every participant brings one gift to be contributed to a common pool. It should be wrapped
It’s important that the person organizing the gift exchange lets everyone know the limitations on presents such as the maximum amount to spend and the type of gift.
2. Participants draw a number to determine who gets to go first
Names can be drawn out of a hat, the organizer can set the order, or you can use Rock, Paper, Scissors for even more fun.
3. Participants sit in such a way where all of the gifts can be seen
This can me a line, semi-circle or circle. It is even easier if everyone sits in the order they are going to choose a gift.
4. The participant who has won the right to choose a gift first selects a gift from the pile and opens it
Everyone needs to be able to see the gift. This is essential!
5. The next participant (and those thereafter) has two choices: they can either take a gift from the pile that is still wrapped or steal an unwrapped gift that has already been chosen
Anyone who has their gift stolen may choose a new one or steal a gift from someone else.
Limitations to the Game
- At most, any gift can only be stolen once per turn – anyone who has had a gift stolen from them cannot take it back during the same turn. They must wait to try to get it back.
- A gift round automatically ends after three swaps.
- After every participant has had a turn to choose a gift from the pile or steal one, the person who went first gets a chance to swap the gift they have for any gift that has been opened. As long as someone has had a gift taken away from them, they will get the chance to steal a gift from someone else
How Does the Game End?
The game comes to an end when someone refuses to steal a gift. In other words, the person who is satisfied with their gift and declines to take someone else’s will bring the game to an end.
Popular White Elephant Variations
1. Three Swaps and You’re Out / Three Swaps and the Gift is Out
If a gift stolen or person is stolen from, they are out of the game – the gift stays with the person holding it and the person can no longer be stolen from.
2. No Extra Swapping
The first person isn’t allowed to swap. If they are allowed to, they only get one swap.
Participants follow instructions given to them through a poem or story (usually holiday themed). When the story is over, participants keep the gift in their hand.
Types of White Elephant Gifts
With so many approaches to the game, it makes sense that people are interested in white elephant gift ideas. As long as the organizer’s instructions are followed, there is really no way you can go wrong.
Some of the characteristics of a fantastic gift that will make you the hit of your next White Elephant Exchange Party are below.
Though they aren’t the gifts people want the most (they will get swapped out a lot), these have a knack for making a pretty big splash at any white elephant party.
It seems as if people don’t want nice gifts, but a sincere gift definitely fuels competition and may lead to a never-ending game.
Unexpected gadgets, confusing toys and bizarre artwork are super popular at swaps. People in the swap also get very determined to take one of these home.
Other Christmas Party Gift Ideas You Might Find Interesting:
- Dirty Santa Gift Ideas
- Funny Christmas Gift Ideas
- Yankee Swap Gift Ideas
- Secret Santa Gift Ideas
- Christmas Gift Exchange Ideas
This game has so many variations and is so popular that there is truly no way to do it the wrong way. It doesn’t matter what white elephant gifts you decide to show up with, as long as you pick something that is interesting.
There’s nothing wrong with taking the gift you brought either – it’s all a part of the game.