White elephant gift ideas range from silly to practical to downright enviable, and the amount of chaos you wish to stir up may influence your buying decision. But first, let’s clarify: If you’re wondering what constitutes a good white elephant gift, it’s important to know the rules of the game.
A white elephant exchange, also known as Yankee Swap, is a group gifting activity that’s usually played during the holidays. Each participant takes a turn, choosing either to unwrap a new present or steal an unwrapped gift from a fellow player. As you can imagine, hilarious antics can ensue, especially if you’re exchanging gifts with friends or family members who know no bounds. Sometimes a price limit is set around $20 or $25, which encourages everyone to be creative when they shop.
When it comes to picking a gift, there are three things to consider: the vibe of the group, the agreed-upon budget and the collective reaction you’re hoping to get. Bring something goofy and, hopefully, it’ll get some laughs; choose a popular item, and it’ll get stolen from one participant to the next. Usually, the best chaos-provoking gifts strike a balance between the two and, if you play your cards right, you could become the puppet master of this year’s white elephant gift exchange.
Looking for inspiration? From high-end presents that impress to unexpected finds under $25, scroll on for crowd-pleasing gift ideas for every type of gathering and budget. Snag these gifts now, and there’s still a chance they’ll arrive before your in-person Christmas gift exchange (just be sure to double-check individual shipping times). But you’ll have to hurry.
Best White Elephant Gift Ideas Under $25
Bsiri Wine Bottle Puzzle
Bsiri Wooden Wine Bottle Brain Teaser Puzzle
Anyone who loves puzzles and wine won’t hesitate to snatch up this gadget. It’s a wooden brain teaser that you lock around a bottle, and it won’t release until the puzzle is solved. The result is equal parts fun and frustration—depending how badly they need a drink.
A Box Of Chocolates With A Caffeine Kick
Pocket Latte Variety Pack (12 Pack)
While coffee lovers in any group will steal this gift without hesitation, it’s especially fitting for an office exchange. Choose a pack in one of four “ready-to-eat” coffee flavors (a.k.a. caffeinated coffee-flavored chocolate) for a tasty pick-me-up like no other.
Optical Illusion Beer Bottle Glasses
Dragon Glassware Beer Glasses
Upgrade someone’s beer game and pick up this set from Dragon Glassware, which includes two double-walled glasses to display brews in an unexpected silhouette. Get them in original clear glass or with this cool, iridescent sheen, which is part of the brand’s Aura collection.
Party Lights To Brighten The Holidays
Strip lights like this 16.4-foot option provide an easy and quick way to light up any space. Plus, they’re totally on-trend right now.
A Personal Popper For Homemade Popcorn
If you’ve ever had homemade popcorn, you’ll know it’s way better than the packaged stuff. This gadget makes whipping up a (generous) portion of the classic movie snack super easy, plus it reduces waste (and scorched saucepans). You can also get the original version, which pops enough for a group, for a few bucks more.
A Gadget Holder That’s Useful For Everyone
Lamicall Gooseneck Tablet Holder
Practical and affordable? Check and check. This gooseneck tablet holder features a flexible arm that can be positioned in countless configurations. It also has an adjustable clamp that’s compatible with virtually any tablet, making it a gift that just about everybody could use.
Best White Elephant Gifts Under $30
An Insulated Mug That Keeps Hot Drinks Hot (And Cold Drinks Cold)
Yeti Rambler Mug (14 Ounces)
It’s time for hot toddies, mulled wine and Irish coffee, and Yeti’s double-wall insulated mug keeps drinks warm for extended outdoor gatherings. It’s affordable enough to give but nice enough to be stolen at least once or twice at a white elephant gift exchange.
A Classy Planner For The New Year
Papier Space Safari 2022 Planner
This hardcover planner from Papier is so good looking, it may take the sting out of filling it with deadlines and appointments. It’s customizable, too, and while you won’t know whose hands it’ll end up in, consider getting it emblazoned with a company name, inside joke or thoughtful sentiment. In any case, this chic planner will be useful to anyone in the new year. Order by December 16 for holiday delivery.
A Party Game That Everyone Will Actually Want To Play
A Trio Of Cocktail Kits For Happy Hours, Near And Far
The Virtual Happy Hour Cocktail Set
Okay, so this one’s slightly over $30, but thanks to a 40% off coupon, it’s pretty darn close. These pocket-sized kits are like a bartender in a tin—perfect for catching up virtually with an old friend or imbibing mid-flight. Each kit includes all the contents you need to create two cocktails, just add booze.
Handmade Soaps With A Touch Of Humor
Dr. Squatch Men’s Soap Variety Pack (3-Pack)
Totally useful with a touch of humor, Dr. Squatch handmade soaps come in fresh scents and are especially formulated for men (however, women will enjoy lathering up with these, too). This three-pack is just over $25 and is ideal for exchanging in burly groups who also have an appreciation for self-care.
High-End White Elephant Gifts
Throwback Art With A Meaningful Message
A Portable Waterproof Speaker
Any music lover, podcast streamer or audiobook addict will wonder how they ever lived without this handy little speaker. The JBL Flip offers incredible sound quality, seamless pairing and effortless portability. It’s also completely waterproof so it’s suitable for setting some ambiance near the bathtub or providing background beats for poolside fun.
A Luxe Candle Trio
Casa Home Candle Gift Set (Set Of 3)
A set of luxe candles is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and Casa Home’s essential oil-based scents are light and lovely. Even better, this trio is designed to set the mood at any time of day, with distinct fragrances for morning, evening and all the moments in between.
A Modern Mirror To Fit Any Decor Style
Harmati Round Mirror (20-Inch)
This sleek round mirror will make an eye-catching addition to any home. It features a bold bolt on which to hang it (the backside can also be anchored to the wall for extra security) and it comes in both black and gold finishes.
The Ultimate Gift For Mutt Moms And Dads
Wisdom Panel Premium Dog DNA Test
Exchanging gifts with a group of dog lovers? This Wisdom Panel DNA Test Kit will uncover the mystery of one lucky mixed breed and will get stolen again and again.
The Ultimate Choice If You Need A Literal Last-Minute Gift
Winc Wine Subscription (1 Month)
Whether you’re totally stumped on ideas or you just procrastinated, you can’t go wrong with a wine subscription from Winc. Not only is is guaranteed to please, it’s a gift you can instantly have in-hand (well, sort of), even if you purchase minutes before—or after—you arrive at the party. Choose from a 1-, 2- or 3-month subscription and a gift card will instantly be sent to the recipient via email. Another option is to have Santa’s Secret 6-Pack sent to their home once the exchange is over. Crisis averted.
Funny White Elephant Gift Ideas
Slippers Inspired By Holiday Dinner
Dearfoams Turkey Slippers
If you don’t think these turkey-shaped slippers will cause some commotion, think again. Not only are they hilarious, they’re made with Dearfoams’ signature memory foam insole and have a plush lining, making them extra cozy.
The Perfect Blanket For Burrito Lovers
Casofu Tortilla Blanket (47-Inch)
If you’re looking to go the gag gift route for your white elephant gift exchange, this “tortilla blanket” should get the group going. All jokes aside, the soft blanket has a ridiculous amount of stellar reviews and is actually cozy for curling up in.
Silly Socks That Are Ultimately Useful
Socks packaged like sushi: cute, a little weird and ultimately useful. This set comes with two pairs of cotton socks that are Oeko-Tex certified and look good enough to eat.
A Hilarious Reference From A Cult-Favorite Show
Moonlight Makers Fold In The Cheese Kitchen Towel
Any Schitt’s Creek fanatic will simply have to have this towel in their kitchen. As a bonus, this Amazon Handmade pick is made by a small business in North Carolina. (Also see the “Ew David” and “Stop Acting Like A Disgruntled Pelican” versions on the listing.)