It’s that time of year where less work gets done as people count down the days before the office breaks for the holidays. 🎄
Now let’s address the elephant in the room: your work’s holiday party. It likely includes a white elephant gift exchange or secret santa. Secret santa gifts are better if they’re personalized, but some of the below gifts might be a good fit for your giftee!
During white elephant, nothing feels better than bringing the best gift that everyone fights over. The competition, the laughter, and the good-natured envy is all a part of the fun. (It’s also equally as entertaining to bring a gift that no one wants.)
Why Is It Called White Elephant?
Simply put, a white elephant is an item that costs more to maintain than its actual worth or usefulness. With this definition in mind, most white elephant gifts are something silly, fun, or impractical. It’s only natural that some gifts during the exchange are going to be more desirable than others, but that's the fun of it.
The term white elephant is said to come from a Siamese tradition where receiving a white elephant as a gift was a form of punishment from the King. While these creatures were beautiful and sacred, they were also incredibly expensive to care for, often causing financial burden for the recipient. This forced them to pretend gratitude, akin to many of us during the holiday season when receiving less-than-ideal presents. (We’ve all been there.)
How Does White Elephant Work?
The rules to white elephant are simple:
Everyone brings a wrapped gift and places it under the tree (or on a table).
Each attendee draws a random number to establish the order for choosing gifts.
The first person selects a gift and opens it.
The next person can either chose a new gift from the pile to unwrap or steal a gift that has already been opened.
This process continues until everyone has a gift!
Some rule variations for white elephant include:
- a cap on the number of times a gift can be stolen (e.g. 3 times max)
- no stealing allowed (we don’t like this rule)
- time limits (which can help if people take too long to decide what to do)
- wrapping gifts in multiple layers, so each time the gift is passed around a new layer is unwrapped until it’s eventually revealed
- creating a challenge that the person stealing has to complete in order to successfully steal the gift (e.g. singing a christmas carol)
White Elephant Gift Ideas
Don’t know what to bring to your work’s white elephant gift exchange? We have some fun, weird, and practical gift ideas for you — these are all work appropriate, of course!
Imagine this little duck keeping you company at your desk while you work. We’re sold.
Everyone loves stickers. Put ‘em in a really big box to fool your co-workers.
Get someone in your office hooked on this thrilling sport.
Kitchen tools with only one function suck — a garlic press is an exception to that rule.
YETI Water Bottle or Tumbler
Because let’s be honest, no one at the office is meeting their water intake goals.
If your office loves pizza as much as we do, these socks will be a hit. 🍕
Help prepare your coworkers who are going somewhere sunny for the holidays. Pair it with some sunscreen and ear plugs for the plane ride.
You could buy any cookbook that’s under $25, but we recommend something funny like Bluey and Bingo’s Fancy Restaurant Cookbook.
Headlamps are insanely useful, but no one has one. Let’s change that.
Mini Waffle Maker
Everything is cuter when it’s smaller. The same thing applies to waffles.
It’s shaped like corn, but apparently smells like bluebells. Pair it with another food candle (like this cheese candle) or with some fancy matches.
One word: cute! Pair it with some tea or coffee for a complete gift.
IT’S A CRAB AND IT HOLDS YOUR SPOON. We are ordering this immediately.
Friendship Bracelet Kit
Do you actually… get along with your co-workers? *gasp* Get this kit and become BFFs. (P.S. - this is also perfect for the Swifies in your office.)
We guarantee that at least one person in your office will want this.
If you live in a dry climate, you’ll go through a full tub of this in the winter. (Aquaphor is also great!) Pair it with some lotions and lip balms.
The Last Dab: Xperience
Hate your co-workers? Get this. No one will want it. Chaos will ensue.
Desk Space Heater
Is there someone in your office who’s always cold? They’ll probably fight to get this gift.
It’s a fun game that makes you use your noggin’. That’s why it’s on this list.
It’s the sponge that smiles back. Pair it with the Scrub Mommy and the Eraser Daddy for more cleaning goodness.
Why? Just for fun.
Serpentine Plant Pot
Have people in your office with green thumbs? Get this cute pot!
Bob Ross by the Numbers
Discover the joy of painting by recreating Bob Ross masterpieces, but miniature.
Apparently this is all the rage. This helps clean those hard to reach places in your car and the crevices in your keyboard.
Ring Holder & Jewelry Tray
An actual white elephant. How meta!
How to Wrap Your White Elephant Gift
There’s nothing wrong with wrapping your white elephant gift normally, but if you want to spice things up a bit, here are some fun ideas:
- nest multiple boxes inside of one another
- put a very small item in a large or medium sized box to mask what the item actual is (bonus points if you add something to change the weight and make it realistic)
- put your gift in a balloon that they have to pop
- wrap the item to look like a different item (e.g. wrapping a book to look like chair instead) this can be done with cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls, and other materials to “sculpt” how you want it to look
- put your gift in a piñata
- re-use what you have — newspaper, flyers, a scarf, etc. to wrap your gift
We hope that this guide gives you some A++ ideas for your work’s white elephant! Have fun. :)