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White Elephant Inspiration: The BEST Gift Ideas

Every year, I attend at least one holiday party with some unique fun. And I’m always looking for good Amazon white elephant gifts to bring that everyone will enjoy.

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Because you can find each and every one of these gifts on Amazon, they are perfect last minute white elephant gifts to buy. Who doesn’t love their quick shipping?

Collage of six items for white elephant gifts.

What is a white elephant gift?

A white elephant gift has different definitions, depending on your group, so be sure to talk to them to ensure you are all on the same page.

In general, white elephant gifts are something that is silly or campy, often something you would never purchase for yourself. It shouldn’t be garbage, however, and sometimes that’s a fine line to walk.

In general, you bring your gift wrapped to a holiday party so that no one sees what’s inside until they choose the package and open it. So get creative with how you wrap your gift, whether that means you put something small in a big box, add a really nice bow, or something else to entice people to choose it first.

Why is it called a white elephant exchange?

White elephants are rare, and they do truly exist. There is no single, fully accepted answer as to the origin of the term white elephant gift, but this is my favorite interpretation.

Long ago, the king of Siam would give a rare albino elephant to those who displeased him. Since they were sacred symbols, no one could decline the gift, but it became and expensive and often unwanted gift for the recipient.

While the concept of a white elephant gift exchange has changed slightly so that while the gifts are funny or unusual, they are not ones that make the gift recipient unhappy to receive them.

What are other names for a white elephant gift exchange?

We always call our swap a white elephant exchange, but I have friends who use other terms. In fact, some didn’t know what I was talking about until we figured out we had different names for the same thing.

Some of the other terms I’ve heard include Dirty Santa, Yankee Swap, Thieving Elves, the Grinch Game, Cutthroat Christmas, and Shifty Santa.

The name your group uses may give you a clue as to how seriously they take the game – especially the stealing of other gifts. Don’t be afraid to steal something you like, as it make the whole game more entertaining and fun.

What makes a good white elephant gift?

The goal is to have an item that people want once they see it. Most white elephant party rules let people choosing their gifts later steal already opened gifts, which is half the fun of it.

Items that are more unusual tend to be popular. Gag gifts that are funny without being cruel or too juvenile work well, too.

If you are in a mixed gender group, you generally want to avoid something that is a traditional boy or traditional girl type gift. You don’t want anyone going home who is unhappy with what they have.

How much should I spend on a white elephant gift?

Every group that does a white elephant gift exchange has its own rules, so make sure you talk to your group first. In general, groups I’m a part of set a $20 limit.

In general, you want new items, not something already used, but I did have a work white elephant once where we were only to shop from our homes. Interestingly, a blooming onion maker someone had not used in years was the most popular gift that time.

If the limit is $20, you should not look to spend $5, but you also should respect the $20 limit. It makes people uncomfortable if you also overspend, but it irritates people if they end up with something that is clearly less valuable than others.

Aim to spend within a couple dollars of the limit. Generally, the limit does not include sales tax either, so keep that in mind.

What should I not use as a white elephant gift?

Know your audience. Most importantly, you do not want to offend anyone who is a part of the white elephant gift exchange.

That may mean that gifts you might purchase for one party may not be a fit for another one. Overtly sexual or political gifts are generally not a good choice, and obviously you want to avoid anything racist or sexist or demeaning in any way.

You also want to avoid an item that you would not want to bring home. If you would be unhappy receiving it, you should not gift it.

And did I already mention that you don’t want to donate something broken, dirty, or missing pieces – whether it’s new or used.

Where can I find the lowest price on a white elephant gift?

Just like any shopping trip, you can find a variety of prices on a variety of items anywhere. I personally love to find the best Amazon white elephant gifts because there are so many buying choices and so much inspiration.

And of course, they have great Prime prices and free shipping always makes me happy.

When I have a holiday party out of town, the ability to easily ship a gift to my destination – and have Amazon wrap it for me! – is an absolute win.

Plus, when I forget to get something or I find out about a party late in the game, these are perfect last minute white elephant gifts since I know Amazon Prime delivers to me so quickly.

Whether you use some of these ideas for the best Amazon white elephant gifts to purchase through Amazon or inspire you elsewhere, enjoy some of the most popular gifts I’ve found.

Best Amazon White Elephant Gifts

Amazon has so many fun options. Every item on this list is perfect for a white elephant holiday party, so you can feel confident in anything you choose. In fact, you just might find something that strikes your fancy that you need for yourself, too!

Always check the price.

You know Amazon prices change constantly, so some that may be under $20 now may be either over $20 or under $10 when you check later. And the same with the under $10 items.

Gifts Under $10

Gifts Under $20

What are your best white elephant gift ideas?

Collage of 8 photos with text 25 amazing white elephant gifts.

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