How to Buy the Perfect White Elephant Gift

Last year, I planned our office holiday party, and y’all, I killed it! Not to toot my own holiday horn here, but everyone loved it, especially the white elephant gift exchange.

Buy the Perfect White Elephant Gift

You may have participated in a white elephant exchange before, but it might have been referred to as something else.  If you have never played, the idea is that everyone brings a gift that all go in a center pile.  Everyone chooses a number at random, which determines the order in which you select a gift. During the game, other players have the opportunity to steal a gift from another player or keep the gift they picked before it is opened. At the end of the exchange, everyone walks away with a holiday gift!

White elephant exchanges are a fun and festive way to celebrate the season with your coworkers. But, if the thought of adding yet another gift to your holiday list fills you with more dread than emptying out that month-old Chinese take-out in your fridge, there’s no need to stress. I’m a pro at picking the perfect white elephant gift – and I’m going to share my best tips so you’ll be sure to ace the holiday office party this year!

1. Remember Your Office Environment

Do you work in a sleek corporate high-rise or a laid back local start-up? When choosing the perfect white elephant gift, keep your office vibe in mind.  In a more casual office environment, it may be hilarious to bring a pair of Santa boxers (and envisioning Brett from Accounting in them) as a gag gift – but not so much in a more reserved corporate office.  

2. Go Gender Neutral

The key to the perfect white elephant exchange gift for your holiday office party is to go gender neutral.  Picking a gender neutral gift doesn’t have to be complicated – one of the best gifts I got during a white elephant exchange was an Elf DVD. So festive! So quotable! It was a perfect way to kick off the holiday season, and I watch it every year now.

3. Stick To A Budget

No one likes a show-off (just ask my brother) and no one likes a cheapskate (see my other brother).  Most white elephant exchanges set a price limit, so be sure to pick a gift that stays on budget.  Your coworkers are all going to choose a gift in the same price range, so you don’t want to show up with something that’s too expensive or came from a last-minute scavenger hunt in the dollar bin.

4. Shop Early

My secret to winning the white elephant gift exchange? Shop early in the holiday season! When you start shopping for the holidays early, you’ll have time to enjoy the season instead of being stressed about finding a gift at the eleventh hour.  It’s especially easy to shop early online, because lots of online retailers put together lists of holiday gift exchange items, making it easy to sort items by price and offering incentives at the holidays like free shipping.

5. Get Creative and Have Fun

Your coworkers will not only notice a gift that is unique, they’ll enjoy it so much more than getting a generic gift you could pick up anywhere.  Keeping Tip #1 in mind, don’t be afraid to pick out something fun and different. Not only will everyone try to grab your gift, they’ll remember it long after the holidays end!

Still need some inspiration? Check out our Gifts Under $25 for ideas to get you started. With these helpful hints, yours will be the hot-ticket gift to swipe during the white elephant exchange at this year’s office bash!

Author: Katie

A Tar Heel born and bred, Katie hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. When she isn’t writing or shopping online, you can find her hiking a mountain trail, perfecting her no-bake cookie recipe, or secretly reading romance novels on her Kindle.

6 thoughts on “How to Buy the Perfect White Elephant Gift

  1. Amber Ludwig

    Is it weird that I like white elephant gifts more than normal ones lol?!?! They are so unique and take more thought!! I love them and have shockingly used more of them than normal ones!! Lol!! These are great tips!! I tend to always stray from my budget but am really trying to stick to it this year!!

    Reply
  2. Jaden Polar

    I had never heard of this before, this is so FUN! I wish my office did a gift exchange like this.

    Reply
  3. shannon fowler

    good ideas to keep in mind. I find these gifts fun sometimes, but usually i worry i am being too silly or not silly enough

    Reply
  4. Jane Ritz

    This is GREAT information, I have always hated to go to these because coming up with something appropriate was always such a pain.

    Reply
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