18 answers

White Elephant Gift Exchange Game

I'm responsible for planning our Annual Holiday Department Gathering at work. Every year we have a White Elephant Gift Exchange, and play a little game. We've done a question and answer game, with the person that answers the question correctly gets a gift, we've drawn a name/number for the gift, and it seems like there was another one that I can't think of right now. What I'm looking for are suggestions to different variations that people have played to this game. Any suggestions would be appreciated!!

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Featured Answers

We did this last year with my DH family, and it was so much fun.
I printed off fake money with pics of everyone one it. I.E my nephew was the $1, my son was the $5, the whole fam was $100.... And then we held an auction. whom ever spent the most money on a gift "bought" it.

More Answers

We always play the Mr. Wright game.
Every picks a gift, then the coordinator reads the following story - each time the word right or Left is spoken in the story, you pass the gift you have to the right or left. When the story ends, that is the gift you end up with.

The story:

Mr. WRIGHT was to take Mrs. WRIGHT RIGHT to the store to do some of her holiday shopping. As he LEFT in the car, he turned RIGHT out of the driveway. He had to go RIGHT back as he LEFT without Mrs. WRIGHT.

They both got in the car on the LEFT side as the RIGHT side door would not open. Mr. and Mrs. WRIGHT again LEFT for the store, turning RIGHT out of the driveway. An argument occurred about the RIGHT turn as Mrs. WRIGHT said that Mr. WRIGHT should have turned LEFT. Mr. WRIGHT kept insisting that he was RIGHT, but Mrs. WRIGHT kept insisting that the nicer department store was on the LEFT.

Two blocks away after another LEFT turn they discovered they had LEFT the credit cards at home. So, they made a LEFT turn, then a RIGHT to go back home to where they had LEFT the credit cards. As they turned RIGHT on to their street and LEFT into the driveway, Mrs. WRIGHT said "Let's just stay RIGHT here and shop for the RIGHT gifts over the internet".

They went LEFT into the kitchen to make the RIGHT cup of eggnog. Then they went RIGHT into the living room where Mrs. WRIGHT turned to her LEFT and said to Mr. WRIGHT, "I hope they have some good stuff LEFT."

Have fun!

1 mom found this helpful

I have done this with friends and we had a blast (of course it was after everyone had a couple of drinks too). We would take all the presents and put them in a pile, then, one by one you were blind folded and you had to pick your gift. When people walked in to the party with the gift, someone was there to take the gift away to no one saw any of the gifts ahead of time. We just drew number to see who would go when. Once you picked your gift blind folded you were stuck with that gift...no trading. Before any one could unwrap thier gift they had to state what the present was going to be used for...very funny to see what people come up with. Once you guess, then you could unwrap your gift. It had a lot of laughs when all said and done!

I have also been to one that was done more like pictionary, and it was really fun. You have people draw little cartoons, drawrings, whatever their abilities allow on index cards, and they put the answer on the gift tag. Whomever guesses right gets the gift with that answer on it. You can also have a theme for your drawrings if you want. For example if you work for a medical supply company, tell folks to draw related items, syringe, stethascope, etc.

Have fun!!!!!
L. =)

We did this last year with my DH family, and it was so much fun.
I printed off fake money with pics of everyone one it. I.E my nephew was the $1, my son was the $5, the whole fam was $100.... And then we held an auction. whom ever spent the most money on a gift "bought" it.

My in-laws would do this every Christmas and we played BINGO to determine who got to choose the gift 1st. We each could brought 2 gifts, so were able to choose 2 gifts...If I won the 1st game I'd choose the gift, if I also won the 2nd game (unlikely) I'd choose another gift...whoever won the 3rd gift could choose 1 of mine or pick an unwrapped one under the tree...so on and so forth. It was A LOT of fun, and you can buy the BINGO supplies cheap-I think at many Dollar Stores even!! We always had a good time with this version!! Good Luck and Happy Holidays.

So many great ideas have been given!! One I didn't see, that we have done before, is that we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and each time the word "and" is said, your pass your gift to the right. This works best if you are in some type of circle. At the end of the story you get the gift in your hands.

We draw numbers.

All of the gifts start out under the tree and who ever has #1 gets to go first. Then the #2 person has the choice to steal #1's gift or choose their own from under the tree. So on and so forth.

After all the gift-picking and stealing is done, person #1 gets the final choice to keep his/her gift or steal someone else's.

At first I didn't understand why #1 got the final choice, but they're the only person who didn't have the opportunity to steal a gift.

I hope this makes sense! Have Fun :)

You could try a "who has an item" twist to it. For example - who has a red pen - the first to produce it gets to pick a gift, who has a picture of their pet, who has a tissue, who has a Michigan quarter, etc. I'm sure you could come up with lots of things.

V., We have done a version at work and with our extended family. You can either do two, one for each sex or one big one if you have everyone but unisex gifts. One person starts, you can draw for this, then the second person picks a gift and opens it and they can either keep theirs or exchange it with the person who already opened theirs.....it is a lot of fun. You are not guaranteed you will keep your gift until the very end because once you open your gift, you can exchange it for anyone elses. Sometimes a gift becomes a "HOT" item and circulates the entire room. Have a great Holiday.....R.

We've had a lot of fun with this also. I really like it when my MIL decides that we are going to have a "Theme" that year. For instance, one year we had an animal theme. Some people brought a stuffed animal, others brought things for animals. I was lucky and found a monster sized tennis ball in a box. Since you can't touch anything, nobody had any idea what it was and it did sit for a little while but once it was opened, I heard so many "my dogs would love that!" comments. It was fought over and ended up being one of the most sought after gifts. A couple of people in our family got a little "naughty" and brought some naughty animal themed items. We all had a good laugh that year but the next year, when the theme was announced, she also warned us to "keep it clean". That turned the theme into "keeping it clean" and it really got out of control. Needless to say, themes are a fun way to mix it up.

One way that I've seen it done is that everyone picks a wrapped gift and some how an order to who opens first, second, etc is determined (I think we drew numbers). Then as people open their gift, they have the option of keeping what they opened or trading it with anyone who has already opened theirs. So, ideally you want to be the last one opening =)


My husband's office did a fun one for the last couple of years at their christmas party. Everyone brought a wrapped white elephant gift with a written clue about what was inside. Then they auctioned off the gifts (max of $5.00) bidding based on what the clues said. The money went to a charity every year (about 200.00-300.00 each year). It was a lot of fun and people really got into it!

Good Luck!

Try an online version called AlbinoPhant that will allow the group to join in the fun at anytime. These parties can last several days and if there are people in another part of the country, they can play as well.


I would suggest that you explore the several gift exchange game ideas at the AlbinoPhant, white elephant gift exchange blog.
Here is a link to the gift exchange game idea center: http://albinophantblog.com/white-elephant-gift-party-how-...

You are going to love this party!

every year we play this game our family fights ovedr the rules, there are two ways i have played it
1. everyone picks a number
number one picks a gift, opens it
number two picks a gift and opens, and can exchange gifts with number one if he wants to.
number 3 picks a gift, opens it, and then can choose either 1 or 2's gift.
a gift can be traded only 3 times, the best number to be is the last because you can choose any gift if it has not been traded 3 times.
the other way we have played is number one picks a gift and opens it, number two before picking a gift can take number ones or go and open a gift, number 3 can take one or two's gift or pick one from under the tree.

As a number of people have already suggested, we always play the game of purchasing a $10-20 gift and putting all the wrapped gifts in a pile. Everyone draws a number and picks a gift in numerical order, with each person having the option to pick a new gift or steal from any of the other gifts already chosen. When we play this, none of the gifts are opened until the game is over. That is what makes the game so funny, as every year, one or two gifts seem to be the focus of everyone's attention and get stolen over and over throughout the game. Most of those times the gift ends up being something that everyone has a good laugh over!
A twist to this game that is played with our extended family is that all the gifts in the game are "re-gifts" and there is a funny chicken Christmas ornament that was put in the game years ago that keeps coming back each year. Whoever gets the Christmas Chicken has to display it in their kitchen for the coming year and take a photo of it while it's in their kitchen. The photos from each year get wrapped along with the chicken and put back into the game the next year. It's amazing how creatively you can wrap a Christmas Chicken and make everyone believe that it is something else! (No one wants to end up with the chicken)!

V. ~
Have you tried the "southern" gift exchange? Everyone brings a wrapped gift and puts it in the center. Everyone draws a number. Then you go in order from 1 through whatever. The first person picks from the center. The second person can pick from the center or steal from the first. And on... We usually go around twice like that, and something can't be stolen more than twice, whoever is left with nothing has to take what's left. My family does this every year with a $10 gift, not a used something from our house (which is usually what white elephant is). You'd be surprised what you can find for $10. Or you can make it however much you want, and adapt it however you need to. The more people steal, the more fun it is!

The right/left game that someone mentioned below really is a fun way to do a white elephant gift exchange! You can re-write the story however you want. You could even make it about your company. When I did it, we used every synonym such as "Mr.s WRIGHT sat RIGHT down to WRITE her Christmas list." That would mean you passed gifts 3 times to the right. Just make sure everyone starts out with a gift (we started with our own) and it's easier visually if you sit in a circle.
Someone also mentioned having a theme. One year we did this- everyone brought an ornament. You know everyone would use that and they were all so different... some even homemade. I think it's nice to try to find a theme that would incorporate something that will actually get used so no one feels that they are wasting money. Have fun!

One side of my family had a "garage sale" gifting. We drew names and knew who we were buying for and then we could only spend $1 on the gift. Sometimes, we had the same gift passed back and forth - for instance, someone got a unicycle one year. The next year that unicycle had a horn on it, the year after that the seat was decorated with sequins, and so on until everyone was looking forward to see what had been done to the unicycle during the year. It was a great deal of fun.

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