How To Do a White Elephant Gift Exchange – Rule Explained and 5 Steps Included

Wondering how to do a white elephant gift exchange the right way? Learn the rule, steps and tips here.
Wondering how to do a white elephant gift exchange the right way? Learn the rule, steps and tips here.

During the holiday season, one of the most awaited parts of the celebration is exchanging gifts. Whether you’re an adult, teenager, or kid, you always have that feeling of excitement when you know an exchange gift. It’s a long-standing tradition that you never miss during the holidays.

Perhaps, you heard about the white elephant gift exchange. It’s still an exchange gift, but with a little twist. It’s making everyone enjoy the gift-giving. But do you already know the rules? In today’s blog, you will know how to do a white elephant gift exchange, as I give you the rules to follow accordingly.

Understanding the White Elephant Gift Exchange

The “white elephant” gift exchange refers to impractical and extravagant presents. History has it that the King of Siam (presently Thailand) would give out unusual, albino elephants to their fellow royals. From then on, the “white elephant” gift exchange became popular because of the albino elephants.

And while the elephant gift exchange remains a matter of disagreement among historians, a theory suggests that the famous American businessman, philanthropist, and politician Ezra Cornell made this term popular because of his frequent social gatherings in 1828.

But when you have this in modern times, you don’t have to pack up a pachyderm. The thought is that the gifts during white elephant exchange gift would be unpredictable. However, the gifts that everyone should bring must almost have the same value. Just imagine yourself unwrapping presents that you’d never thought you’d own. Interesting, isn’t it? It’s an unusual unboxing of random gifts that gives fun to everyone.

White Elephant Exchange Gift Rules 

The rules when you want to have the white elephant exchange gift vary for every gathering. But check out these popular rules in playing the white elephant game.

  1. Setting a price limit

Many groups who want to try the white elephant exchange gift choose to set a price limit. This is to limit the costs of the gift and, to be fair, so everyone gets the same value of the gift. Here are some of the ideas as per budget:

  • Gifts at $20 and below 
  • Chocolates like REESE’S and Hershey’s
  • Bundle of soda, popcorn, sweets, and junk foods
  • Twizzler twists for candy fans
  • Hershey’s Chocolate (like a white elephant)
  • Gifts at $30 and below 
  • Movie pass
  • Chessboard
  • Pair of socks
  • Slippers
  • Bath Towel
  • Unisex Wallet
  • Gifts at $50 and below 
  • Slippers
  • Sweater
  • Nighties
  • Cellphone case
  • Bedsheets
  • Bathrobe
  1. Make a Theme 

While it’s great to have endless gift ideas for the exchange gifts portion, you can also think of a gift theme to make it more interesting. There must be something you can eat, something round, something clean, something you can wear, something weird, something nice, and many more ideas that add fun to the part.

  1. No one should unwrap the gifts until the end

Adding a little element of mystery to the exchange of gifts would be fun. Keeping all the gifts wrapped until the very last person will take their turn. Yes, you may steal each other’s gifts, but you must have no idea what’s inside until the very end. That way, you would expect a lot of laughter when all of you open the gift. Also, you can prank wrapping the gifts to add fun.

  1. There must be a host

You must appoint someone who will do the hosting. Someone who is fun and has an idea about how to do a white elephant gift exchange. Appoint someone who would add another level of humor to the game and has a lively voice to announce the play.

Understanding How to Do White Elephant Gift Exchange 

Now that you know the basic rules in playing the White Elephant Gift exchange, here is the guideline for playing it correctly.

  • Step 1: Each attendee must bring a gift that is wrapped already  

To have a contribution to a common pool, everyone who wants to play or attend the party must bring a gift. Depending on the theme and price range of gifts, everyone must know the rules.

  • Step 2: Every player must draw a number to know the order they will go 

Someone can draw names from a hat or a jar alternatively. The organizers can also set it before the event. Then, everyone is given numbers as they arrive in the event to select gifts in order.

  • Step 3: Players should gather and form a circle

Everyone should sit and gather in a circle to make things easy in taking turns. Once everyone has been settled, the first one to play can select the gift or choose an unwrapped gift, or they can steal a former player’s gift. If there is someone who gets their gift stolen, they can also do the steal. They can also choose to steal or a gift from someone else.

  • Step 4: Anyone gets a chance to swap gifts 

Once all the players had their shot, the first to play on the list gets the chance to exchange the gifts they are holding. Anyone whose gifts get stolen may also steal from anyone else as long as that player hasn’t been stolen from anyone just yet.

  • Step 5: End game 

You should know that for this last additional turn, the three-swap rule does not apply. All the players can keep swapping until someone agrees to stand pat or have no other qualified people to steal from. When one player refuses to steal a gift, the game will come to an end. 

The end

The white elephant gift exchange rules are easy to understand. Keep in mind that all you want is to have fun with this game. You should consider that not everyone gets the best gift or desired gift. Christmas or holidays isn’t about how expensive or how beautiful the presents are. Enjoying your time with your family and friends are the most important thing

I just hope you now understand how to do the white elephant gift exchange. May you find it enjoyable, especially when played with the special persons in your life.

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