What it is: An alternative way to set up a white elephant gift exchange, where you basically set it all up yourself. Sounds less fun than the normal way? It doesn’t have to be!
Best for: About 10 to 20 people
What you need: A very generous host!
So rather than looking at this as a white elephant gift exchange, think of it as a fun way to give a gift to a group of people (co-workers, family members, etc.). If it’s Christmas or some other gift-giving occasion and you want to give a gift to everyone in a group in a fun, unique way, this might be it!
This game works the same way as a white elephant gift exchange, with all the same rules. The only difference is, you will supply all of the gifts yourself.
The gifts can be whatever you want. They can be inexpensive or they can be nice. It’s often fun if they’re all the same type of gift with different patterns or themes, but they don’t have to be.
We played this most recently at a family Christmas gathering. My husband and I decided to set it up as a fun game for everyone. We bought a bunch of pairs of wacky/unique socks, enough so everyone would have one. Then we wrapped them all with different wrapping paper, put them in the middle of the room in the evening after Christmas dinner, and played! Everyone ended up with a pair of silly socks. We tried to include a variety, so some were laughable, some were cool, some were neat, and a few were pretty undesirable but in a funny way.
It was a good game because everyone (kids and adults) could participate together. And because we didn’t have too many kids, and there wasn’t too much overlap in the socks the adults wanted and the socks the kids wanted, there were minimal tears. (Minimal. Unfortunately not no tears.)
Like a good white elephant exchange, it’s fun if some of the items are kind of eccentric (there were many options for that when it came to silly socks). We’ve also done it with wall calendars. Wall calendars are another great gift idea, because you have a huge range of styles to choose from, from serious (motivational quotes) to beautiful (beaches and mountains) to specific interests (movies and video games) to just silly (cats doing yoga).
You can also set up the game with items that are unrelated to each other. My mom has done this for our family’s Christmas gifts for the past few years, and we all have a blast. Each gift is unique (exercise equipment, kitchen supplies, just funny stuff), but they’re all nice, and people still steal and scheme, but everyone walks away with a gift in the end.
It’s a neat activity that turns a group gift into a game (so not only do your family/friends/co-workers get a gift, they also get laughter and memories, which are probably even better). Other theme ideas for gifts might be candy, treats or food, gift cards, nostalgic toys, or even more “boring” things like office supplies. Have a variety of pens and pencils of varying quality, and shake it up by throwing in a few truly absurd writing utensils that are sure to make everyone laugh. What other ideas can you come up with?
Variations: You can read about the normal white elephant gift exchange here. There’s also some other activities, Christmas gift pass and mystery gift pass, that involve less stealing and conniving and might be better suited for young children. You could easily adapt the mystery gift pass to play with adults as well, and it might also be a fun way to give a group of people a group gift. Have fun!