The goal when buying a white elephant gift is a little different from when you’re buying a normal gift. White elephant gifts are designed to create joy through disgust, shock, absurdity, or sheer uselessness. In some ways, these crappy gifts can be even harder to choose than a good gift. So go ahead and dig through our treasure trove of ridiculous, gross, hilarious, and mildly insulting garbage. You’ll definitely find what you’re looking for.
There are few human features as noble and worthy of regard as the hair-adorned man-chest. But modern clothing conventions often make it difficult to display this emblem of male virility in the many social situations, especially among respectable company. Luckily for all of us, some intrepid clothing designer has figured out how to right this travesty. The hairy chest shirt is the solution to one of society’s most pressing problems. If we can solve this, imagine what breakthroughs are just around the corner.
Great art doesn’t always take the form you’re expecting. Twitter gives everyone with a phone and an opinion to spare the chance to reach millions of people with a single ill-conceived utterance. With all that verbal garbage coursing through the airwaves, bizarre gems are certain to arise. Lest they drift away and go to waste, someone had the brilliant idea to start framing them. Move over Picasso, it’s time to make room for the real modern art.
You might call your toes “little piggies,” but the truth is that feet are the real workhorses of the human body. And we tend to be pretty merciless toward them for long stretches of the day, so it’s a nice gesture to show them some love when it’s all over with. And healthy feet make a happy human, so you could try giving a foot hammock to the most unlikeable person you know and see if it brightens them up a bit. Or better yet, give it to someone you like. Trust us, they’ll appreciate it.
It can take years to truly master the street version of a secondary language, especially if you go about it the conventional way. Here is a book that tells you exactly what you need to know to get your point across in a way nobody is going to miss, no matter where you are. This book gets right to the point by teaching you the most potent and universally applicable utterances in any language - swear words. Renowned for their versatility and becoming more acceptable in polite culture by the day, you’ll get far more mileage out of what you find in this book than you ever would from phrases like “¿Dónde está el baño?”.
Pens have a way of disappearing, and since they don't have legs, we have to assume people are stealing them. These serial pen thieves are lurking in every office and workplace, and everyone is a suspect. We've all been a victim, and we all just accept the fact that when someone asks if they can borrow a pen, that pen may be gone forever. There is a simple solution - use pens that make people deeply uncomfortable, preferably with messages so unsettling that they may not ask you again. And since such a pen would truly be yours to keep, it ought to be a good one. These professional metal barrel pens not only make a memorable first impression, but are built to last and filled high with ink - unlike some discount novelty pens out there. A great gift for your coworkers and friends, and even better to keep for yourself.
The problem with modern methods of dispute reconciliation is the lack of real finality. Everyone gets together and talks about their feelings, sometimes they look in each other’s eyes and shake hands, and then a weak, unsatisfying agreement is reached and everyone goes home feeling like they sort of lost. Gone are the good old days when the goal was to completely obliterate the problem, and if this wasn’t possible, then you obliterate the source of the problem. Bring a sense of closure back to your workplace.
The long and venerated traditions of alcoholism and literary indulgence share more in common than most people realize. The best experiences in literature and booze both involve escaping reality and then eventually coming back with the sense that you’ve experienced a brush with deeper truths that you can’t explain to another human any better than you can explain it to your cat. Of course this book can’t promise anything like that. But it’s fun to read and adds another layer to getting drunk.
Generally speaking, the last person in the room who needs more wine is the person who’s already gone feet up. But as long as that posture signals relaxation and not unconsciousness, it’s probably fine. There may be a moral grey area, but that’s not your problem. This is the perfect gift for the most shameless wino you know.
Any resident of the hillbilly, redneck, white trash, honky, or poor cracker regions of America knows that beavers are good for more than building dams. If you’ve never had roasted beaver tail smothered in a bourbon dandelion sauce, well let me tell you…neither have I. But real country living is about making use of what you’ve got, and this book is the culmination of centuries of hardscrabble ingenuity. You don’t need fancy grocery stores or credit cards. All you need is a little backcountry wisdom.
The Dammit Doll is one of the best, most tactile ways to say “Dammit All!” And as anyone who’s ever had the great evolutionary fortune to be human can tell you, despite all the perks of being at the top of the food chain and being the unquestioned masters of our environment, there are plenty of reasons to say “Dammit All!” Hence the cathartic utility of the Dammit Doll. So much better than bashing the bejesus out of a real person (for both ethical and practical reasons).
If you’re looking to break up the dull, monotonous atmosphere of this year’s office holiday party, you can always introduce some radioactive material. This small tin of uranium ore is just the right size to heighten the sense of danger and unpredictability, without the risk of excessive genetic mutation. And given the super long half-life of radioactive material, this is one of the longest-lasting gifts you can give. When coupled with a home enrichment tutorial, this makes a great nuclear device starter kit.
Go ahead, throw this in the white elephant gift pile and see if anyone has the balls to steal it. This is the kind of gift that nobody will ever forget, for better or for worse. Its usefulness is overshadowed only by the shamelessness of its name and the absurdity of its marketing - true signs of a product with lasting power. In the context of a normal one-to-one gift giving scenario, you risk having it taken as an insult, but in a white elephant gift exchange, at the very least you’ll get a few laughs, and who knows? You might even open up a whole new world to some lucky soul in need.
Ping pong is an activity that virtually anyone can get into. Along with “sports” like curling, mini golf, and shooting cans off of fence posts, it’s a game of physical skill that requires absolutely no meaningful athletic ability. That makes it a game of the people, if you will. And the best part about this kit is that it’s portable, as the name implies, and extremely fast to set up. Just supply the tabletop. If they could use a little dose of competitive fire, this might do the trick.
Breasts that shoot out wine sounds like something from the dreams of an adolescent Frenchman. And while that’s not quite what this is, it’s about as close as you’re going to get in this lifetime. This is like the upscale woman’s body flask. There’s no bottom shelf whisky in these t!*s. Nope - this is an over-the-shoulder boulder holder full of the world’s classiest fermented beverage, with fancy foreign names like Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. Truly functional fashion.
Oftentimes, at our moments of greatest distress or angst, we find that we’re unable to grasp the right words to express our consternation. Luckily, the good folks at Knock Knock have discovered that most sources of discontent can be described with a simple formula that they’ve distilled down to a few checkboxes and lines of fill-in-the-blank. With this handy notepad, they’ll never again have to struggle with the indignity of not knowing WTF to say when they’re agitated.
The future of food is all about making weird shapes with your dinner. Or at least that’s what the modernist chefs will have you believe. And some of the things you can make with this molecular gastronomy kit are enough to make you feel like you’re eating with the Jetsons. Spheres, foams, and chocolate spaghetti are a few of the strange treasures that await inside this bizarre culinary kit.
No matter how much you love your friends and family, at some point you get tired of looking around the room and seeing the same faces. However, it’s often considered rude to throw people out because you no longer want to look at them. But what if there was a way to get them to voluntarily change their faces? With a set of assorted face coasters, you can do just that. Best of all, everyone thinks it’s a fun little game, and nobody suspects what you’re really up to.
If you’re like most people, you have often suspected that cats control their surroundings through telepathy. There is no other reasonable way to explain their influence on the outer world. No doubt someone you know would like to do the same, but science has yet to figure out how to turn humans into felines, so for now we have to settle for halfway solutions like this. Based on technology that detects the electrical impulses in your brain, these plush cat ears respond to your thoughts and moods with physical movement. Adding a new body part has never been easier.
Back in the days before society and political correctness and cell phones went and made everyone soft, you would smash an insect, rodent, or other small intruder with your bare hands, and if you were poor enough, you’d add it to whatever you were making for dinner, because it’s cheaper than buying fancy store seasonings. But that’s pretty old school, and we understand that most people have gotten off that bus. It’s a lot easier just to vacuum stuff up and be done with it.
Apathy is a terrible approach that will suck the life out of your existence if you let it. It seems people these days are all out of shits and such to give regarding the various events in their respective worlds. So what do you do when you realize everyone has run out of a valuable currency? Well, you print more of it, obviously. And this gift is a real life saver - a nice bagful of freshly minted s—ts and f—ks to carry around so people can start getting results again.
Add an element of intrigue, danger, and power lust to your dessert course with this acclaimed book of after-dinner recipes by a shadowy figure from the netherworlds of baking. Dazzle the tastebuds of your guests (or yourself) by making your way through the convoluted kingdoms of flour, yeast, confectioner’s sugar, and other forbidden pleasures. This is not a book for the weak of heart or the insulin resistant; for everyone else, it is a roadmap through a treacherous, unforgiving, but ultimately sweet terrain.
Meetings are inherently stupid. A meeting is where good ideas, ingenuity, and morale go to die. So it would be extra stupid for anyone to put any more effort than necessary into contributing or looking smart. Here is a guidebook for the enlightened.
Sometimes a mirror just isn’t enough. You’ve heard it said that you are what you eat, so it stands to reason that it’s easier to digest things that already look like you. The selfie toaster is here to revolutionize your relationship to food.
We like to think of chickens in two categories: free-roaming farm animals, and dinner. But the truth is that nothing is stopping you from domesticating and civilizing this iconic barnyard fowl. In fact, for someone seeking a pet with that “huh?” factor - the one that is sure to turn heads - the chicken makes a fine choice indeed. The only thing stopping them is the question of how they’ll walk it. Petco may not carry chicken harnesses, but fortunately for whoever gets this gift, Amazon sure does.
No matter where you stand on other major life issues, one thing is for sure: everything is better with cats. Or maybe just weirder. Anyway, this updated version of the classic board game is purr-fect for anyone who owns or loves cats, and even better for anyone who wishes they were a cat. In the original version of Monopoly, the goal was to collect properties until you became the fattest cat around, bullying people and putting them out of business. Cat-opoly reflects a kinder, gentler world where you simply collect cats, until you’re like one of those people you see on the reality shows.
Complaining about how hot it is in the office is for losers. “Adapt and survive” has been the motto of our race, and this is the next great leap in human evolution. No more does the recipient of this amazing piece of engineering need to rely on the outside world to ensure their comfort. This future is here, and man is it cool.
These days, it’s not just water contaminants and government spies that you need to keep your family safe from. Now the aliens have come for us, and in case you haven’t noticed, we’re being harvested like walking vegetables. A high-tech UFO detector has become a must-have for every modern home.
A certain percentage of the population has a strong obsession with animal butts. Most of them are under 10 years old - the ones who aren’t end up making things like this for a living. Go on, admit that you want to pull a tissue out of this cat’s butt. No one’s going to care. As long as you’re only pulling things out of the rectums of figurines and other likenesses, there’s no problem. Watching the recipient’s reaction to this gift can probably tell you a lot about them…we’re just not sure what.
Heavy drinking and recovery food are the yin and yang of the YOLO life. This book is 128 pages of pure detox alchemy, a journey through a magical culinary landscape where nausea evaporates like the morning dew and headaches turn to, well, less painful headaches. A must-have for the hard liver with a hard liver.
High tech doesn’t have to mean that it’s made of stuff you don’t really understand, like silicon chips and flux capacitors. Sometimes it’s just a matter of folding some stuff you’ve got around the house in a way you never bothered to try. Now, we don’t want you to get too fired up about this - just because it has the name Google on it doesn’t mean it’s going to blow your mind. Honestly, it’s probably less cool than your weird uncle who can make those great shadow puppets. But it’s perfect for a crappy gift exchange.
If you can’t be good, then you need to be the best at being the worst. No artistic tool better equips you for that lofty goal than the Otamatone. This thing is a crapstorm of godawful atonal noise. You’ve never heard anything worse.
A bad stomach virus will elicit fewer groans than this book. When your sense of humor has calcified into something like petrified wood, it’s time to beat people gently into a stupor with it. This is the perfect instructional guide to doing just that.
The squirrels have been playing tricks on us for years, and most of us don’t even know it. In fact, squirrels often go way over the line. From house fires to divorces, they are responsible for untold misery, suffering, and property loss. It’s time we start giving them a taste of their own medicine. Start small. Start here.
Ever wondered what ten billion dollars feels like in your hand? Surprisingly unremarkable, as it turns out. And the design doesn’t seem appropriately inspiring either - just a few rocks and some kind of wild shrub. But hey, that doesn’t matter, because it’s still ten billion freaking dollars, right? Well, not exactly… it’s Zimbabwean money from way back during the height of their economic crisis, so it’s basically worthless. But it does have a lot of zeroes on it and the really impressive words “ten billion dollars”.
It was only with the advent of modern society that we decided the broad world was no longer our toilet. This made us feel better about ourselves (and each other), but it’s so damn inconvenient. Thankfully some genius made this thing, which combines the best of both worlds - the carefree and the socially conscientious. Now we can feel whole again.
We’ve been living with goats for hundreds of thousands of years, but most of us needed the internet to find out they scream like humans. And we can’t get enough of it. Murphy’s Law guarantees the most obnoxious person in your white elephant exchange will end up with this. And then everyone will definitely get enough of it.
You might be wondering why we need another liquid metal to play with. Well, sometimes people lose their mercury, and then they get bored because they have to play with stuffed animals instead. Just make sure you don’t spill this on your car (see video).
Subtlety is not a quality that is often attributed to remarkable butts. From Brazilian calendar models to Dave in HR (in whose wake no sane person walks), the human posterior tends to grab attention forcefully, or not at all. A small company with a social conscience is looking to change that. Enter Subtle Butt, the fashion accessory you wish everyone else had.
If you enjoy the world-renowned photography of National Geographic, you’re going to love this calendar. Walmart may be a historic case-study in ruthless bottom-line economics, but it’s most remarkable as the central gathering place for the rarest specimens of rural America. Darwin may have reconsidered his fancy theory if he had one of these handy.
Most guests’ bathroom trips come and go without a single data point being collected. This bathroom guest book allows you to gather critical feedback on the finely curated relief/evacuation experience you’ve orchestrated for your visitors. This data gives you the knowledge you need to make the necessary adjustments to the structure, aesthetics, and accessories of your inner sanctum, as well as gain valuable psychological profiling insights on the people who have passed through. Think of it as the Google Analytics for your crapper.
As modern fashion becomes more and more demanding, and requires an ever-heavier personal commitment, it’s easy to fall behind the times and look like someone’s great-grandparent. A gold grill is a borderline necessity these days, but not everyone can afford the cost or has the inclination to undergo major dental surgery. The answer is right here.
If you’re going to make use of a hideous cliche, you might as well own it. In fact, go ahead and wear it. Better yet, give it to someone else to wear, and see if they have the cojones to pull it off. Sure, the company Christmas party is the safe place to bust this thing out. But do they have the guts to rock this in February? If so, you’ve got a real killer on your hands.
The worst thing about this gift is the disillusionment. Like planting a hidden camera on a magician, you just won’t care to watch the show once the secret has been revealed. This small box of simple tools is all anyone will ever need to get out of any dangerous predicament they might find themselves in. But go ahead and give this to someone you care about. Survival always trumps entertainment.
Mice are so much cuter once they’re dead. They’re even cuter if you dress them up as famous historical figures - so long as you do all that taxidermal stuff to keep them from rotting. But someone else already took care of that for you. Best of all, you might even get a scream when the recipient realizes they’re holding a real dead mouse in their hands.
Our brains are already wrong about plenty of things, so there’s no harm in throwing some flavor confusion on top of the mess of sensory data. Actually, it’s really fun. And considering that water is basically tasteless and really couldn’t be any more boring, this is a perfect way to spice up the act of hydration. Sort of like potable virtual reality, but not really. It just makes your water taste different. Isn’t that enough?
People aren’t nearly as healthy as they used to be, and there’s no doubt that our footwear has a lot to do with it. Just look around sometime. Big amorphous chunks of humanity supported by space age tennis shoes and $400 loafers. Something’s got to give. These sandals may look like a strange torture device, but you’ll be doing someone a world of good. From their parathyroid to their lungs to their rectum, many points on the body need regular chi-mobilizing massage. And unless you’re going to do the massaging yourself, this seems like the best bet.
In some ways this is the perfect white elephant gift. An Amazon Prime membership, first of all, is awesome. Throwing something like this into a steal-your-neighbor’s-gift exchange— amid all the raccoon fur slippers and bird whistles and tube socks - is usually a good way to guarantee bloodshed. But most likely, there are only a few people at your white elephant gift exchange that don’t already have this, so you’re probably just going to make someone’s day. And if things get a little raucous, at least it will be memorable.
Nobody is really sure where bacon comes from. For all we know, it’s made by extraterrestrial slaves deep within the bowels of Area 51 in sweatshops under the watchful eye of a thousand Dick Cheney clones. That’s as good as anyone’s best guess. But modern technology is all about the democratization of goods and services, so you don’t have to rely on inhumane methods of production anymore. You can make bacon at home that’s every bit as good as that sweet alien meat.
If you want some world class street art in your house, you can wait for someone like Banksy to break in and paint something on your wall, but most likely that’s not going to happen. And if someone does break in and paint your walls, you’re probably not going to like what they do. It’s better to play it safe and go with one of the classics, like one of these wall art decals based on famous Banksy paintings. A much neater, more controllable way to be vandalized.
This thing really only exists to freak people out a little. There’s no point in pretending it serves another purpose. Oh, it also holds stuff in its surprisingly roomy inner compartment, but that’s not why you buy it. You buy it because you want passers-by to look at the person wearing it and say, “What’s with her?” It’s quirky enough to get a few laughs, and disturbing enough to never be forgotten. Dogs especially don’t like it, and we can’t really say we blame them.
As far as unusable real estate goes, this isn’t a bad deal. Buy swampland in Florida and everyone thinks (actually, knows) you’re a poor, sad, gullible boob who’s open to being taken advantage of. Own some land on the moon, on the other hand, and you’re sort of a lazy pioneer. It’s a long way to go for a vacation, and whoever you give this to probably can’t afford to make the trip, but if they ever figure out how to make this whole space taxi thing work, their great grandkids might just get some use out of it.
Some might consider it the ultimate display of human privilege to begin claiming faraway stars just because we have a few extra dollars in our pockets. But once you realize that the universe is far bigger than you think it is, you’ll cool off a little. There’s more than enough to go around for everybody. Several billion times over. So go ahead and give someone a little piece of the cosmic pie. Nothing to get all riled up about.
There’s nothing worse than having to get up every day and be the same damn person. We all feel the pain, but it’s a rare soul who gets to branch out into alternate identities. Now you can give this invaluable gift to someone you care about. This 48-pack of gag business cards allows the owner to take on whatever persona fits their mood that day - from the mysterious to the reckless to the downright weird.
A rubber chicken purse may not be everyone’s idea of a tasteful accessory. But then again, screw them. Trying to please everyone is a fool’s errand. This unbelievably gorgeous and futuristic purse will instantly set the owner apart from the crowd, for better or for worse. And unlike conventional chicken purses, no animals were harmed in its making, which is why it’s futuristic. Because in the future, everyone is nicer. Pair with other animals like cats or fish for a truly stunning and harmonious look.
The dark brown treats in these little cotton bags aren’t actually Reindeer droppings (or any other animal, for that matter), though legend holds that such is their true origin. No, these are just fine, lovingly-crafted milk-chocolate almonds with a gross name. For some reason, people get a kick out of eating things they’re not supposed to, and this bizarre gift gives them the chance to indulge in an ultimate culinary taboo without paying the price of gastrointestinal illness. Also, they’re delicious.
Beef jerky is a fond favorite of many but, let’s be honest, it’s pretty standard. When you’re looking for a less regular gift for a less regular person, you’re going to have to do better than that. Earthworm jerky might just be the answer. This jerky is packed full of protein and we hear that it’s really tasty too. We did mean to try it ourselves, honestly … but … earthworms.
Along with abundance comes the responsibility not to bore the crap out of people by making the same silly casserole every night. The problem is that nobody wants to think that much about food. They just want to eat. Place the burden of creativity - and blame - on these ingenious foodie dice, and watch the possibilities multiply.
These king-sized treats just might be the perfect gift to match their insatiable sweet tooth. This level of candy debauchery might be frowned upon by overeaters anonymous, but life is too short for sugar shaming. No need to wrap these monstrous munchies, the wrapper alone is half the fun and can be used later on as one-of-a-kind wall art to commemorate their gastronomical feat.
It may seem like no easy task offending someone with chocolate, but it can be done. All you have to do is shape it like a giant animal turd and present it with a crude and insulting inscription. Doesn’t seem that difficult to pull off now that you’ve seen it done, right? This bizarre and hilarious gift (make sure you know the recipient’s sense of humor, of course) is proof positive that people will eat chocolate in basically any imaginable shape. The perfect gift for someone who’s a real piece of…work.
Here’s the thing about recluses, lazy people, and those who hate sitting at the family dinner table: they have to eat too. If they don’t, they just die. This cookbook is proof that somebody out there is looking out for them too. Her name is Marie Smith, and she’s the guardian angel of all those who hate communal eating and conventional cookery. Liberating the lonely and cantankerous masses from the tyranny of TV dinners and canned soup, she is the patron saint of the quick and dirty gourmet. And this is her Bible.
Who hasn’t at one time wished they could swipe a loose hand across the surface of their pillow and reveal the face of Nicolas Cage? Let that person cast the first stone. And it better be a mighty big stone, because the rest of us will be blocking it with one of these handsome plush pillows. Regardless of your judgment of him as a thespian, Mr. Cage brings an unmistakable and unique charisma to the big screen. Now let him bring that same bizarre glory to the bedroom of someone you love.
One problem with our hectic modern lives is that we’re usually nowhere near nature when it calls. Instead, we’re usually in a crowd of strangers, at a public venue with horrible restroom facilities, or stuck in a traffic jam. And having to abide by the rules of social decorum means that women really get the short end of the stick. A simple portable plastic device has changed all that. With the SHEWEE, you’re not only making someone’s life easier — you’re striking a blow for urinary equality.
Not everyone has had the time, genetics, or inclination to cultivate a big hairy belly. That doesn’t mean they should miss out on the chance to flaunt a big hairy belly. This lifelike bag allows man, woman, or child to experience the glory of dadbod-ness. The adjustable waist belt ensures that this manbelly will stay snug no matter what their size, and the roomy, multi-pocketed inside makes this a very functional man pouch.
These are the kinds of questions you would only ask Google. The stuff you're genuinely curious about, but that basic dignity prevents you from asking someone face to face. The most traditional approach to this problem is to drink Martinis until you can no longer feel any shame, and corner a doctor at a dinner party. Luckily there is a more dignified way. This book is the equivalent of cornering hundreds of doctors and it answers all the hard questions "a friend of yours" may be wondering about like "Can I lose my contact lens inside my head forever?", and "Does it really take 7 years to digest chewing gum?", or "Why is poo brown?".
Life is full of difficult conversations like talking to your kids about sex, asking a doctor about that thing you haven't told anyone about, and how to teach your cat about gun safety. You know, the important stuff that you keep putting off. With more and more gun accidents happening across the country all the time, it's more important than ever to make sure your cat understands the dangers of playing with firearms. This helpful guide also covers other topics that can endanger their 9 lives including Satanism, drug abuse, and how to survive the coming apocalypse.
Mad Libs are a classic game that's endlessly entertaining to kids. If there are some people on your gift list who are still easily entertained, then the office themed version for adults is sure to take them on a hilarious trip down memory lane, while giving them a chance to vent about topics like who keeps stealing food from the fridge and bad restroom wifi reception. It's a great way to bring people together at work, to waste company time, but together nonetheless.
Feeling small and insignificant? Looking for that larger than life feeling? Need to jump safely from a great height? Try an inflatable suit. They’re great fun for any occasion, especially for first impressions, and they really make you stand out in a crowd. Inflatable suits are perfect for blind dates, job interviews, concerts or events where personal space may be limited, pushing your way to the front of the line, casual Fridays, motorcycle safety, airplane travel, hiding in pillows, and more.
Perfect for the foodie with a sense of humor, Fifty Shades of Bacon is a gift that’s sure to raise eyebrows and whet appetites. It features 62 floppy pages and 50 bacon-inspired recipes, and is the ideal addition to your current Fifty Shades collection. Start conversations and inspire creativity in the kitchen with this book that features arousing full-color images of bacon in all your favorite positions including: alfredo, bits, and ice cream. You heard it right: bacon ice cream. Don’t miss out on the plethora of dirty jokes that could stem from this amazing gift. Great for the coffee table, or for Level 2 awkwardness, the nightstand.
- 50 adventurous bacon recipes: that’s almost one every week of the year
- gorgeous still-life images of everyone's favorite food group: bacon
- from the critically-acclaimed author of CHOCOGASMS (also worth a view)
Celebrate America’s favorite Christmas movie all year long with this iconic leg lamp. From the tasseled shade to the fishnet stockings, this lamp screams “I have superior taste”. The lucky person who receives this will surely be inundated with compliments and admiration. Its design is taken straight from the classic movie, and it will undoubtedly conjure up some fond memories for anyone that recognizes this gem. The neighbors will be so jealous.
What is a White Elephant Gift?
The white elephant gift exchange is a hilarious holiday tradition full of useless gifts, bizarre surprises and trivial disappointments. Whether you love them or hate them, you’ll probably end up participating in one this year and will need to find some interesting crap to wrap up. Choosing the right white elephant gift can be challenging. You want something unique that will go over well in your group, be memorable, entertaining, perhaps even fought over.
White elephant gifts trace back to legends of an ancient King of Siam, who had an interesting way of getting payback on those who dared to displeased him. The cantankerous King was said to take his revenge not through battles, but through gifts. Get on his dark side and you may be bestowed with a rare albino elephant, and animal that was praised as a symbol of prosperity and signified the high social status of anyone who owned such an impressive beast. The trick was, the elephant would cost so much to feed and take care of that its owner would be financially ruined. The burden of owning the animal far outweighed it’s usefulness, and it was a difficult gift to get rid of.
Today, white elephant gift exchanges aren’t intended for revenge, but cutthroat rivalries can develop as people attempt to steal the best items and dump the trash. The most memorable white elephant gifts are generally things that most people would be happy to get rid of. They may be tacky, useless, embarrassing, or more trouble than there are worth. The tradition is also known by a number of other names including Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, Cutthroat Christmas, Chinese Auction, Rob your Neighbor, Thieves’ Christmas, and more.
How a White Elephant Gift Exchange Works:
The rules for a successful white elephant gift exchange are rather simple. While it’s suggested that the number of “players” be around 6, as many people can play as have the time to exchange. Each person brings a wrapped gift and all are collected in a common staging area. Everyone is given a number, and whoever is determined to go first selects his or her gift. They unwrap it, show it to the group, and the next person in succession takes their turn. The second player can choose to either steal the previous player’s gift or open a new one. If a gift is stolen, the previous owner then selects and opens a new gift. The next player can open a new gift or steal one of the previous two, and so on until all the gifts have been opened. Typically after the last gift is revealed, the player who went first gets the final option to steal any of the gifts. In some versions a player can open a new gift before deciding if they want to swap it with someone else's. Some groups allows players to steal if they get stolen from, but this can lead to endless swapping if additional rules aren't created.
There are a number of variations to the game that can help speed things up, make the game more fair, more competitive or more interesting. Often a maximum price is set for any gifts that are purchased, typically between $20 and $30. Players may decide to prevent infinite steals of popular gifts by adopting a “three strikes” rule. After three swaps, a gift can no longer be stolen and may be considered safe. Or there can be a limit on how many times any individual player can have something stolen from them. Some white elephant parties have a theme around which all gifts must relate. Possible themes might be handmade gifts, used gifts, or things found around the house. Some variations involve only offering “ugly” gifts, or “gag” gifts. Particularly savvy hosts may even opt for a more detailed game, in which certain gifts include cards with instructions and special rules on stealing gifts, adding new layers of complexity to the game. Other variations may include helpful hints for ensuring that the right person picks the right gift - for example the bath salts may be marked as female to ensure they don’t end up in the hands of the dude who was hoping for the whiskey glasses.
Picking a Good White Elephant Gift
What you choose to bring to your white elephant exchange will depend a lot on the rules your group has decided on and the people you’ll be exchanging with. You may have strict budgets on gifts you can buy or be restricted to homemade gifts or things you already have around the house. In general you want to bring a gift that is either entertaining to the group or valuable in some way. To keep things interesting choose a gift that you think will be actively swapped or stolen, either because it’s something everyone wants or it’s the dud everyone tries to dump on someone else.
Funny Gifts: Everyone loves to laugh. Funny gifts and gags are always a big hit and make some of the best stories. There’s a huge range of things to choose from online at all prices. Funny gifts keep the game light-hearted.
Weird Gifts: Things that make you wonder why they exist. People are fascinated by the absurd. It can be good to show up with something that no one has ever seen or would think to ever want like a fish training kit.
Useful Gifts: Things that people actually want or need always do well. If you bring something valuable or useful it’s sure to be stolen repeatedly, which creates a fun roller coaster of excitement and disappointment for each person that owns it for a moment.
If your party has agreed to a spending limit, don't be the person that overspends to bring the best gift. Obviously you have some wiggle room, you may have gotten a great deal on a typical more expensive item, but be mindful of the group's guidelines when selecting your gift.
Be sure to think about your audience. A gift that may be a big hit at an office IT party may not go over well at the church gift exchange. Choose something that relates to the common ground in the group. A gift that is perfect for the foodies at a restaurant staff party may not resonate with the team at the corrugated cardboard plant.
Where to Look: Thrift stores are great places to find white elephant gifts that are truly unique. Other places worth checking are pawn shops, antique stores, flea markets and winter garage sales. If you have a family member or friend who is a collector they may have the perfect thing in an attic. You may get lucky and find something on eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist. If you need something you can order online and get delivered quickly, we think you'll find the perfect white elephant gift right here in our collection.
Safe Bets: Lottery tickets are always a good choice and will definitely be swapped many times. Same goes for gift cards. As Seen on TV items also make good gifts that people love to steal. Alcohol of any kind is usually a winner depending on your group. If your party is at the office you have something of value like a parking space you could offer for a few weeks. You could print a handmade coupon for a free lunch or other favor. While it may be the least creative gift you could bring, no one will argue with the gift of cash.