Fifty Wacky White Elephant Gift Exchange Ideas

The term white elephant traditionally comes from the white elephant of East Asia, which is of high maintenance but of no practical use. The white elephant gift exchange has come to mean something around your house that you don’t want, or a gag gift. Anything that is funny, tacky, wacky, kitschy, tasteless or cheap would qualify as a good white elephant gift.

You could decide to set a spending limit of no more than $25 and randomly draw numbers for guests to pick a gift and have a turn to swap it for something more desirable. We’ve all been to a holiday party where there is a white elephant gift exchange, and typically useless and unwanted items are bought and exchanged. But, why spend money on a gift that the gift giver often turns out to not even want and when you usually don’t even want the gift you are going to get?

This year, decide to do something fun (and cheap). Consider a white elephant gift exchange where little to no money is spent. Select something lying around your home that you don’t want: an ugly gift, a tacky nick knack, an item that has become a joke among your friends and family, or any of those items you keep for some unknown reason (you know what I am talking about-all the useless junk we can’t bring ourselves from throwing away!) This year, have a white elephant gift exchange where everyone can have a few laughs and unload some unwanted junk along the way. Of course you will end up with someone else’s garbage but, you know what they say, one person’s junk can be another’s treasure.

Here are some suggestions for relatively useless items we tend to keep around the home:

Warning: Some of these may be a bit over the top, depending on the company, but sure to get some laughs with some of your more wacky and zany friends and relatives.

1. That sweater Great Aunt Mary knit for you in the back of your closet

2. An empty or half bottle of wine/other liquor

3. Partially used bottles of over the counter medicine

4. A gift bag of Empty CD cases

5. Hair rollers in your vanity

6. That fruitcake no one wants in your freezer from last year

7. Giant rocks or rocks you dug up when planting in your garden wrapped in a large box (wait and see the look on the face of the person who had to go for the large, heavy box!)

8. Tacky kitchen knick knacks, plastic fruit or those “crystal” candy dishes you always seem to get

9. That cheese and sausage gift set you got one year and didn’t know what to do with

10. A pair of rusted toe nail clippers and a small box filled with toe nail clippings

11. All that old and partially used makeup and nail polish sitting in your bathroom cabinet

12. Bath salts and oils given to you as a gift years ago on the back of your toilet

13. Seat cushion from an old couch or chair

14. One chopstick

15. One inch thick stack of fake credit cards collected from your junk mail

16. Jar of nails, screws etc. or other odds and ends from the basement

17. A hubcap from an old car

18. A dozen packets of flower or vegetable seeds never planted and those plastic flower pots you have collecting in the garage

19. Box full of pens and other contents of your junk drawer

20. Hotel soap, shampoos, shower caps collecting dust in your bathroom closet (why do we take these?)

21. Belt buckles from old belts

22. Old shoelaces

23. All those mismatched socks whose partners mysteriously disappeared in the laundry

24. Those bits of staples never used because they are too short to fit into the stapler

25. Flattened out and partially used toothpaste tubes and old toothbrushes collected over a year

26. Leftover tile from your bathroom or leftover rug scraps

27. Anything from the dollar store

28. A box of unwanted cans from the back of your pantry shelf

29. Potpourri or several candles (even if mismatched)

30. All those unusable rolls of toilet paper that fell in the toilet over the last year

31. Empty lighters

32. That old outdated purse in the back of your closet

33. Old baby shoes, clothing or cloth diapers

34. A pair of very large underwear or bra

35. A can of Spam or Vienna sausage

36. A box of tampons

37. Homemade maxi pad slippers or a pair of tampon earrings with wires strung through the top to make loops

38. An old toilet seat or cover

39. All the AOL free CD’s received over the last year tied together with a pretty ribbon

40. Pantyhose or stockings with runs and holes in them

41. A box of expired condoms from the bottom of your nightstand

42. A manila envelope filled with cut out coupons (especially expired ones)

43. A stack of old magazines, Readers Digests or TV Guides

44. A jar filled with shelled nuts

45. “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt or “Baby in Here” t-shirt from your last pregnancy

46. Plastic dog poop or other gag gifts from the dollar store

47. Box of chocolates with one bite taken from each (to see what kind it was)

48. Tacky garden statues or lawn ornaments (think pink flamingos)

49. A huge poster of some outdated singer/movie star, or one of those neon lighted signs, a fiber optic NY scene or Elvis picture

50. Losing scratch offs (that have already been scratched off)

Remember, the key is to wrap the gift nicely to make it look more extravagant than it really is. After all, the best part
about exchanging gifts is the anticipation of what is inside.

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