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White Elephant Gift Ideas to Tickle Your Funny Bone: What Is a White Elephant Gift?

Before coming up with white elephant gift ideas, first you need to understand the concept. In most situations, white elephant presents are budget-friendly items that do one of three things: make everyone laugh, become the one thing everyone wants, or trick people into thinking it is something terrible or awesome. Whichever way you play the game, it can make any gathering more fun. If you're shopping for an office shindig, you may have a few rules to follow, such as keeping within a budget or staying HR-appropriate.

When you have a large family, choosing white elephant gifts is a good way to keep costs down and to inject a shot of fun into your family get-together. Some of the best white elephant gifts are pretty exciting for the recipient, so don't rule them out when you need a present for someone and you just have no idea what to buy.

Office holiday events put a few more restrictions on what you need to consider when you shop for white elephant gifts. You may need to keep it clean and avoid any ideas that could offend. Adhering to a budget is sometimes necessary, and easier than you may think, whether you need to keep it under $10 or $20. Also, if there's a specific theme, try to stick to it. Even if you choose a coveted gift, such as a tin of cookies, you can stay within a given theme, such as horses, by making sure the tin has printed horses on it, or wrap it with unicorn wrapping paper.

There are all types of white elephant gifts available, from silly and fun to serious and quirky; even yummy. Learn what the best white elephants gifts are for any budget, and how you can make sure you steal your present back, if the rules allow.

White Elephant Gift Ideas for the Office

Choosing a fun or silly present is subjective, but some ideas that should be a hit at any white elephant party are themed coffee mugs, unexpected cookie jars (who knew they came shaped like llamas?), or even classic gag gifts. Sometimes the best white elephant gifts have the intention of being tongue-in-cheek, and often, these are first ones that participants steal. You'd be surprised how excited someone might be to get a bottle of toilet bowl freshener or an inflatable unicorn.

To make sure your white elephant package is the one everyone wants, consider gift sets. Who wouldn't want a collection of hot sauces or a snack food tower? You can even find affordable, but luxurious white elephant gift ideas, such as a collection of spices from around the world, a smoked salmon pack, or a case of teas from Europe, Asia, and Africa.

If you're really into this themed party, try tricking your group by buying something like a taco holder, sound effect machine, or pot holders, but repackage the present. Find an empty box and stuff your White Elephant gift inside. Wrap it up, place it in the pile of packages, and wait to see who is fooled and who isn't. This works the other way around, too. Choose something awesome that everyone is likely to want, such as a flask, a game, or a book on bacon, and put it in an empty cracker box before wrapping it.

Budget Shopping: Keeping It Under $20

You never really know how each item in the pile is going to do until it's time to open them all. When you're on a budget, it's easier than you may realize to find the perfect present. A desktop game, such as ping-pong or basketball, is one of those items that you can use all year long in the office. And a "crazy cat lady" mug is more amusing if a dog lover gets it, or the office grump. For some of the best under $20 white elephant gifts, consider looking at options you normally wouldn't. You can find some gems, like a desktop drum set (as long as the person who gets it isn't your cubicle mate).

For the Indecisive

If you're unsure of what types of White Elephant gifts are appropriate, funny, silly, or boring, let this chart help you out. It also provides you with a handful of ideas.

White Elephant Gift IdeasSillySeriousSo Much FunMundane, but Still Funny
Wine bottle outfitsX
Wine markersX
Toilet bowl freshenerXX
Drinking gameXX
Quirky mugXX
Themed tape dispenserXX
Anything with a cat on itXXXX

Then there's the strategy of buying a gift you want. If you play the game right, you could get yours back.

Know the Rules of the Game

Before joining the game, first, make sure you know the rules. There are several takes on this type of game, and some white elephant party ideas you might want to suggest are to limit the number of times participants can steal a gift. Usually, the way it works is to let guests randomly choose a number based on how many people attend the party. The first person to choose has to stick with what they opened unless someone takes it. If people continue to steal your white elephant gift, you get to keep picking a new one to open or you can steal another. The first person to pick is usually the last one to steal.

If you're hoping to keep the gift you just opened, you have to play it cool. While watching everyone open a white elephant gift, practice your poker face. If you're too excited about what you unwrapped, it probably won't last long in your hands. Be sure to keep an eye on your second, third, and fourth choices, just in case someone does snatch your beloved first pick.

Enjoy shopping for the most envied white elephant present and watch as it continues to move from person to person. Discover plenty of ridiculous white elephant gift ideas that'll get the whole gang laughing.