white elephant game ideas

White Elephant Game With A Twist

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My family has played all the “traditional” Christmas gift exchange games out there. We’ve done the standard white elephant gift exchange, dirty Santa, grab bags, secret Santas or just plain old assigning everyone to buy a gift for a certain person. 

A few years ago I wanted to spice things up and asked my mom if we could play a new White elephant game with a twist on it! I named this fun Christmas gift game: Something Old, Something New and Something Made By You. (If you continue to read this blog you’ll learn I love alliterations and rhyming titles) Anyway, my mom was skeptical but open to the idea.

White Elephant Game

White Elephant Game Rules (With A Twist)

The general idea is that each person brings THREE separate gifts to the party.

  • Something Old: Something you already have. Spend $0 on this gift. 
  • Something New: Something you need to purchase based on your families price limits. Basically a “traditional” good white elephant gift under $20 (or whatever $ limit your family sets). 
  • Something Made By You: Think of this as a DIY white elephant gift. (I have ideas below)

Make sure you wrap each gift individually. Also, make sure everyone knows the ages of those playing. This game could easily be played with teens but make sure people know, so age appropriate gifts are brought.

Don’t want to bring an old gift? Don’t (although its more fun if everyone plays along) only “play” the rounds based on the gifts you brought.

TLDR– have your guests bring three gifts: one new ($X-X ammount), something old, and something new with each gift wrapped individually.

Official White Elephant Game With A Twist Rules

  1. Divide the gifts into three separate piles: old, new, made by you
  2. Count the number of people that brought gifts and on a piece of paper write down that many numbers. So if 10 people brought gifts there should be 1-10
  3. Put the numbers into the bowl and have everyone pick a number
  4. The person who drew #1 gets to pick any present they want from the new pile first
  5. The person who draws #2 can either steal the gift that person #1 drew OR pick a new gift from the pile. Person #3 can either pick a gift from person #1 or #2 OR pick a new gift… Continue until all the numbers have been drawn
  6. After the something new pile has been unwrapped, move on to the something made by you pile and repeat steps 3-5
  7. After the something made by you pile has been unwrapped, move on to the something old pile and repeat steps 3-5
  8. LAUGH. HAVE FUN! And go home with THREE unique gifts!

*Notes: If someone steals the gift from someone it needs to be done BEFORE they pick a gift from the pile. A gift can only be stolen 2 times.

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But What Kind Of White Elephant Gifts Should I Bring?

I have you covered on some great white elephant gifts under $20 as well as some ideas for the DIY portion. This is a fun Christmas game, and it’s all about the gifts that you bring that makes it fun (or not fun).

White Elephant Gift ideas under $20

  1. I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many coffee mugs. This mug is great- donut coffee mug
  2. This peppermint lip scrub is luscious and a great unisex gift
  3. Gift cards are an EASY gift: Think Amazon, Target, Walmart, Gas Station, Starbucks
  4. This bacon and bourbon barbecue sauce is delicious and something fun people haven’t heard of
  5. At first people will think a fidget spinner is a useless gift but once they start fidgeting around they will be hooked
  6. An essential oil diffuser is a great way to introduce people to the world of essential oils
  7. This travel mug is great for whatever beverage you want to stay cold or hot & works just as well as a more expensive brand
  8. I LOVE daily calendars: Think fun facts, jokes, I love this one and the OMG Facts calendar
  9. A box of Gharadelli squares, a delicious gift for everyone
  10. Scratch off lottery tickets, could be the gift that keeps on giving
  11. Gas Gift cards or car wash gift cards

Something Made By You: DIY White Elephant Gifts

DIY White Elephant Gifts

The made by you gift is my FAVORITE part. It’s so fun to see everyone’s creativity shine through with their homemade gift.

Don’t over think this one- if you are already planning on doing some sort of holiday baking just double the recipe and bring along your favorite cookies, cakes or snacks.

  1. Bring your favorite drink! Homemade eggnog, Baileys, iced tea, sweet tea, etc
  2. Make something fun with essential oils: bath bomb, room sprays, bath salts
  3. Make a “cocktail” recipe. Include the written instructions for making the cocktail and buy an ingredient or two. Not sure what to make? Try the Horseman’s Head Cocktail and add a bottle of grenadine or Guiness beer
  4. Make a candle! You can make extras to give to teachers. neighbors or family members as stocking stuffers. This candle making kit comes with everything you need to get started
  5. Create a basket of ingredients from a recipe you love! Include the hand written instruction on a recipe card , buy a small basket from the dollar store and add some of the ingredients
  6. Make a homemade salad dressing or sauce and pass it along in this cute salad dressing container
  7. Bake a HUGE batch of your favorite cookies, candies or pastries and put them in these cute Christmas cookie containers or these adorable candy holders. Use the extras for teachers, neighbors, and friends
  8. Make a picture frame using this DIY kit and add a cute or funny picture everyone in the family can appreciate
  9. Crochet, Knit or quilt a fun unisex gift everyone will love
  10. “Make” a mixer-sixer of your favorite regional/local beers

Something Old Gift Ideas

The cost of your something old gift should be approximately $0. The weirder and more obscure the wrapping job the BETTER. Head on down to your basement or up tp the attic and see what would make a good gift. Here are some things that have shown up in past years in our something old pile

  1. Clean out some half used toiletries you aren’t using and throw them all in a cute bag
  2. Regift something that you have never used: that bundt pan Aunt Carol bought you that is sitting around collecting dust would be perfect.
  3. Jalepeno vodka anyone?
  4. That old shoe shiner that has never been used
  5. An Old T-shirt with a funny saying
  6. An oversized blanket sitting under the bed
  7. Old cassette tapes and VHS
  8. An old fish tank
  9. Mismatched Santa decorations
  10. Random drinking or shot glasses

Have Fun With The Christmas Gift Exchange

Even if your family doesn’t want to commit to bringing a gift for each category encourage them to bring the gifts they want. Perhaps they just bring a new gift and an old gift, that is totally fine, have them only play those rounds. If you are looking for more white elephant gift themes check out this post.

What type of family games and traditions does your family do around the holiday season? Be sure to let us know if you play!

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  1. I love the idea of including a homemade category in gift-giving. This can be so fun. I love to crochet and usually try to crochet stocking stuffers for my family members. This looks fun.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a fun twist on this classic game! Our family would love this! Thanks for making it even easier with suggestions for each category too. Love this!

  3. I love this idea and all of your suggestions!! I totally want to see if my family is up for your idea this year!! We typically do a drawing for who we’re buying gifts for. But we all love giving gifts so much that we always end up buying gifts for everyone anyway!

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