White elephant gifts people will actually LIKE (updated for 2019!)

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white elephant gifts people will actually like

In the next few weeks, thousands of White Elephant gift exchanges will unfold.

There will be variants of the white elephant games (Yankee Swap, Secret Santa, etc), but the general idea is this: everyone brings a wrapped gift, and it’s usually something silly. The gifts are gathered in one place, and everyone decides what order they’ll be selected. Whoever is going first opens the first gift gift, and their turn ends. As the turns go on, each person either gets to open an unwrapped and new present, or can swipe someone else’s already opened gift. If your gift is stolen, you can either choose another wrapped gift to open, or you can steal a present from someone else. The game is over when the last person goes.

The gifts are usually really silly or useless. They’re meant to be funny, right?

But if you’re going to do something, why not do it right? Here are tons of awesome white elephant gift ideas (most of them under $20 — we’re talking CHEAP!) that people will ACTUALLY WANT. With one of these puppies, folks are going to be fighting over your gift like crazy…

White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
“Thank you” Insulated Lunch Bag
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Star Wars R2-D2 Bowls
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Cactus Pillow
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Colour Change Folding Travel Umbrella
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Elf Earbuds
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Harry Potter Cauldron Soup Mug with Spoon
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Skull Poly Candle
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Unicorn cosmetic brushes
White elephant gift ideas | Yankee swap gift ideas | Secret Santa gift ideas
Jute Burlap and Cotton Shopping Tote Bag

The review of this Unicorn Wine Holder sums it up:

I bought this unicorn thinking it would bring luck, joy and rainbows into my home. Instead he just sits there, staring through my soul with his cold black eyes, just daring me to steal his bottle of sweet nectar. Then when I finally get the courage to take the wine all he does is throw judgement my way for days. Every time I pass I get the “oh hey, there goes that thieving wino again” look.

By the time I feel I am over the constant judging, he switches up and begins a massive guilt trip. “Why did you take my precious bottle, leaving me lonely here on my back? Now I’m just a poor, pale joke. All the other mystical hooved animals laugh at me.”

Eventually I give in and buy him another bottle so that I can literally put a cork in it, thus starting the cycle all over again. Want a review? Sure it holds the hell out of a bottle of wine. Just be aware of the mind games to come.

ALL THIS, and you can have it tomorrow? Perfect.

In keeping with a HORN theme, we’ve got this narwhal TWO FOR TEA infuser and mug set. There’s a cute Spiked Tea narwhal infuser, and then a custom-designed, coordinating mug. GET TO THE POINT. Get this mug and tea set… like, in 48 hours.

Tequila Mockingbird “Even if you don’t have a B.A. in English tonight you’re going to drink like you do.” Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist is really awesome for dudes and chicks.

cards against humanityCards Against Humanity is the “party game for horrible people” and the best time you’ll ever have.

mini donut makerYou know what’s better than drinks in the office? Doughnuts. The Babycakes Mini Doughnut Maker is only $14! And the bonus part of this gift… perhaps they’ll bring you some treats!

fireplace candleHoly crap, this fireside candle that smells like a fireplace and also crackles while it burns, just changed my entire stupid-apartment-with-no-fireplace Christmas!

You know what people actually (surprisingly) need more than coffee? Water. Here’s a water bottle with storage. So when they’re out and about, all they have to do is throw their ID, car key, and maybe some cash and they’re ready for adventure.

Ok, now if you’re not looking for SUPER last minute options…

Most of these guys are Amazon Prime eligible, which means you’ll have ’em within a few days…

wine to goTo go cups for wine? Yeah, those exist: Vino2Go portable wine glasses. So you can sip your favorite wine on picnics, or in the backyard (without fear of shattering wine glasses).

smore makerNo one doesn’t like s’mores. NO one wouldn’t like getting this Microwavable S’Mores Maker. It’s only $9 and has awesome reviews on Amazon. (Probably because NO ONE doesn’t like s’mores.)


Dudes, three words for you: HOT DOG TOASTER. It’s a toaster. For your hot dogs. And it’s only $18.

starburst wine trivetThe Starburst Wine Trivet (maybe include a bottle of wine to get it started?) is an easy win — peeps love wine, peeps need to a place to put hot stuff — hook ’em up.

cheap white elephant gift ideasNot the wine-drinking type and more the shot-taking type? I dare ANYONE not to fall in love with these animal head shot glasses.


OR WAIT! Maybe you hate unicorns. Like, REALLY HATE THEM. Well, in that case… there’s unicorn meat. Wait, that’s not useful at all. Sorry, sorry. Let’s get back on track here.

fifty shades of chickenOn the cooking tip, there’s always the very sexy(?) Fifty Shades of Chicken Cookbook.

Remember these? Yeah, Medieval weapons as push pins will make everyone smile.

t rex penWhat’s better than giving the gift of an awesome mini 3D Tyrannosaurus Rex? Giving the gift of an awesome mini 3D T-Rex that’s also a pen!

bacon-gifts-600x461It seems the only thing people love more than OMG MOAR BUTTER is bacon. I could go on for days about all the bacon-related gifts out there:


Nothing says “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” like a skull-shaped corkscrew. Added bonus? It’s $10.

Still nothing? Allow me to close this down with something everyone will love: the Unzipped-Bag-Shaped Hand-Blown Glass Bowl filled with candy. BOOM. Shopping done.

What do you think? I feel pretty good about this list. If you have a story about a white elephant gift that knocks it out of the park, share it in the comments!

Comments on White elephant gifts people will actually LIKE (updated for 2019!)

  1. My mom’s signature move is themed gift baskets. I love the movie one, which is popcorn and movie snack and a cheesy DVD (or a movie gift certificate for higher price ranges) all in a popcorn bucket (you can get cute retro ones at kitchen stores for just a few bucks). Or italian night, which is the non-perishable fixin’s for a spaghetti dinner in a dollar store colander with a couple candles and a cute tea towel. The formula is usually a food and a non-food item on a theme, presented in the cutest way possible. Always welcome, and a bit more special than the gift boxes from the store because you’re putting the package together yourself.

  2. Our friends have a white elephant gift party every year, and sometimes someone will bring a nice gift like on this list. We always wonder what they were thinking. The rest of us go to thrift stores and look for the most hideous things we can find. Or the funniest. Just weird or ugly. White elephant is not for giving nice things! That’s called a “gift exchange” here in MN. If it’s called “white elephant”, then don’t bring anything you’d actually want to receive!

  3. I have a Christmas party and we are doing white elephant, but I’ m doing it with a school group, and I barely talk to them or know them. What should I get them, that is cheap.

  4. Last year I got this as a white elephant gift in my office party – I got it on the 3rd (and final by the rules) steal. It’s been a big hit ever since – tons of people ask me about it, thinking it’s a real fish sitting on my desk.

    One year a friend had a white elephant party where everyone had to shop at a dollar store. That was fun – and I learned to NEVER buy wine from a dollar store.

    The white elephant gift I gave that I was most proud of I’d gone to Big Lots in search of a gift. There I found a lamp…with a base that was a white ceramic elephant. It was *just* under the $10 maximum. I thought it was hilarious (white elephant for the white elephant party), but ugly. However, several people at the office party LOVED it and it was stolen the max 3 times.

  5. I attended a white elephant party a few days ago. Didnt know it was white elephant, told not to spend over 10 dollars. Well all the gifts were very nice gifts. They were handbags, jewrlry scarves, I received a beautiful cookie jar which someone stole from me, I was upset, didn’t like this party. I noticed a few other people were upset when they lost their good gift. Didn’t want to be a bad sport so didn’t say anything. Was not fun. I attended past white elephant and they were fun. When I see the people that put this party together I will tell them that white elephant is funny, gag gifts not good gifts. Hopefully next year will be better.

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