White Elephant Ideas for the Family Christmas Exchange This Year

White Elephant Ideas for the Family Christmas Exchange This Year


White elephant gift giving is supposed to be based on a king of Siam (Thailand) who gave away rare albino elephants to people who angered him. The cost of keeping the gift was high, and who would give away or sell a gift from an upset king? Today’s white elephant gift giving usually involves about a half dozen or so participants who play a game in exchanging useless or burdensome gifts from Christmases past. Even though this is a fun way to celebrate the gift giving insanity that can accompany the season, there are better ways.

White Elephant Ideas for the Family Christmas Exchange This Year

Purposeful Re-gifting
Just because someone receives a gift they think is useless does not mean everyone feels that way. The “As Seen On TV” gifts are hugely popular and considered useful by some, and seen as completely useless by others. For those who have gifts like this in the closet from last year, it’s not hard to think of someone who actually might like to receive the item. Plan a party around re-gifting, taking due diligence to not offend the original gifters.

Charity Gift Parties
A get together for food and conversation can include bringing some small gift items that everyone bids on. The gifts should be practical, or generally desirable among the masses yet not too expensive. The winning bids earn the gifts. The money is then donated to charity. Any gifts left over can be donated to a local charity such as Goodwill Industries, which rely on donated product sales. Winning bidders may also choose to donate their gift to a gift collection charity such as Toys for Tots.

Food Gifts
Choosing the best gift can be hard for some in one’s circle of friends, family, or coworkers. However, everyone eats, and most people actually have a food item they make that everyone raves about. Maybe it is a signature homemade chili recipe tweaked over the years, or those delicious cookies from grandma’s recipe. Even those with modest culinary skills have something they make that others enjoy. Make up batches of whatever it is, put it in decorative Crystalizeonline whiskey decanters, holiday bowls, or boxes, and give them as gifts. Forego the retail food kits as last minute gifts, such as a hot chocolate making kit, since they can seem impersonal.

Charity Shopping Trip
The holidays are all about getting together with your loved ones. It does not just have to be on Christmas Day either. A fun event that benefits the underprivileged is making a special trip to the mall or major department store to get gifts for charities such as Toys for Tots. After the gifts are picked out, everyone should have lunch together at a local restaurant. Preplanning to coordinate the wrapping of gifts and dropping them off should be included in the time.

White elephant gifting is a fun way to gently poke fun at the commercialization of Christmas, but there are other ways to make the holiday more meaningful, and still involve the giving of gifts. Creative Christmas gift giving ideas can be adapted and modified to suit individual needs and preferences. Maybe a new cherished Christmas tradition will begin for your family.

Have you ever done a White Elephant gift exchange before? 

photo credit: JenGallardo via photopin cc

Guest Post written by Brooke Chaplan. Brooke is a freelance writer and recent graduate of the University of New Mexico. She enjoys hiking, biking, running and blogging about many different subjects including family, home and fitness. Contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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  1. I love the idea of charity gifting! So much better then a spending money on a junk gift exchange!

  2. Around these parts we call them Yankee Swaps and I avoid them at all costs LOL. There’s always one in the crowd that brings a joke gift that they got at the dollar store and I really don’t think it’s funny when everyone else goes out and picks out a nice gift for the $15 or $20 and someone ends up walking out with junk 🙁
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  3. I have to admit that no I have never done a white elephant exchange before but it does sound interesting.