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White Elephant Gift Themes

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Looking for a unique way to celebrate your office’s or family’s White Elephant party this year? Check out these fun, festive white elephant gift themes! From movie nights to game nights, there’s something for everyone. So gather up your gift swaps and get ready for some holiday cheer!

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What Is a White Elephant?

The rules to a white elephant are pretty simple.

  1. Each person brings one wrapped gift.
  2. An order is usually chosen in which gifts will be opened.
  3. Determine how many times a gift can be stolen prior to the game starting.

The first person to open gifts can choose any wrapped gift. The second person will then either unwrap something new or take another player’s already opened present! When you steal from someone else they’ll be able to choose between two alternatives: they can then steal a gift from someone (but not the gift that was just stolen) or they can chose to open an unwrapped present. Determine how many times a gift can be stolen prior to the game starting.

The Best White Elephant Gift Themes

Re-Gift Exchange

This one is simple—everyone brings a gift they’ve received in the past that they don’t want or need and haven’t used. It’s a great way to get rid of those unwanted gifts taking up space in your closet!

Dollar Store Gift

Each person has to put together a gift basket only using dollar store items! Set a limit on how much you can spend and see how creative people can get.

Pick A Random Letter Gift Theme

In this gift theme you are assigned a random letter and then the gift you give must start with that letter! Everyone can have the same letter or you can do a random letter generator to assign everyone a letter. Try and include harder letters like: x, y, and z to see what people can come up with.

Office Supplies Gone Wild 

This theme is perfect for the office party. Have everyone bring their craziest, most outlandish office supplies to the party (think staplers in the shape of animals, fluorescent post-it notes, funny pens, etc.).

‘Tis the Season for Bad Gifts 

This theme is all about giving (and receiving) the worst gifts you can think of. From fruitcakes to ugly sweaters, half eaten tins of popcorn, ugly Christmas decorations, nothing is off limits. Just be prepared for some good-natured ribbing from your friends and family!

Baked Goods Gift Exchange

Each participant brings a baked good to the party. This can be a lot of fun, especially if you bring something unique or interesting, maybe great grandma’s secret sugar cookie recipe? A loaf of sourdough and a side of the sourdough starter to go with it?

Animal Theme

Whatever white elephant gift you bring has to somehow incorporate an animal. Think animal feet slippers, unique animal coffee mugs, or even a gift certificate to the local zoo. 

Color Theme

One fun gift-giving theme to try is when everyone brings something of a certain color. This can add an extra level of challenge and excitement to the proceedings, as people have to think hard about what color they should bring! Your gift wrapping should also reflect the color you are given.

Decades Gift Theme

Each person is assigned a decade and the gift you bring must reflect that decade!

Game Gifts

In this gift theme everyone brings a different game. This can be a board game, card game, or any other type of game.

No More Than $5 Gift

In this theme everyone has to bring a gift that costs no more than $5, but you want it to be a gift everyone will be fighting over! It may be harder than you think to come up with an amazing five dollar gift.

Recipe Kits

Each person pulls together their favorite recipe and grabs most of the items to make the recipe! If you have lots of perishable items you could also include a gift card to a local grocery store so the person receiving the gift can easily grab the ingredients.

Homemade White Elephant

Each year my family plays White elephant with a twist, and part of that is bringing a gift that is made by you! It is one of my most favorite categories because people always bring the best gifts! We have had homemade food items, homemade cards, things made on a Cricut, stickers, really the possibilities are endless.

Gift Card Exchange

In this exchange everyone brings a gift card! This one is fun NOT to set a price limit to see what dollar amounts people decide on. The larger dollar amounts would usually get stolen more. Consider including random gift cards to unusual places such as a dry cleaners, car washes, pet stores, and thrift stores.

Restaurant Gift Cards

While this is similar to the gift card exchange, this specific theme only focuses on gift cards to a restaurant. Make sure if you are doing a local restaurant everyone that is participating is local. If not, concentrate on chain restaurants: Chipotle, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden are a few ideas.

Experience Gifts

Give the gift of experience! This one will also rely heavily on gift cards but it would be for an experience: massages, nails, local museum, tickets to a sporting event, tickets to a local art show, or even a gift certificate to a concert.

Keep It Local

Buy a gift from a local mom and pop store! This is a great way to shop local and expose the audience to shops they may have not been aware of before. 


One popular white elephant theme is “Ornaments.” In this theme, everyone brings an ornament to the exchange. This can be a fun way to get everyone in the Christmas spirit and to add some extra decorations to your tree. You could also have a theme for the ornaments, such as vintage, unique, or regional/state ornaments. This will give everyone something to look for when they are picking out their ornament.

Mason Jar Exchange

In this gift exchange theme everyone brings a gift that will fit inside a standard mason jar. This one is great because it limits the size of your gift! Many places have adorable pre-made mason jar gifts too such as these mason jar candles, mason jar cookie mix, and I absolutely love these mason jar toppers.

Christmas Tree Theme

In this theme you can bring whatever gift you want, but there has to be a christmas tree on it! Really love the idea of bringing a small Christmas tree plant and it would be hilarious to wrap!

Bring Your Favorite Drink

One popular white elephant gift theme is alcohol. In this version everyone brings some sort of alcohol (as long as everyone is of the legal drinking age).  You could bring bottles of wine, cases of beer, mix and match beer, and even something unexpected like Malort! You could also make a cocktail kit that has all of the ingredients to make a certain mixed drink like Moscow mule kit or done for you margarita kit.

Coffee Mug Exchange

In this version, everyone brings a coffee mug to the party and takes turns picking one mug from the pile to open. Some unique mugs could include toilet mugs, funny saying coffee mugs, or even coffee mugs with your co-workers or family members’ faces on them.

Wine Glass White Elephant Gift Theme

 In this exchange everyone brings a wine glass! You can bring stemless wine glasses, locally handcrafted wine glasses, thrifted wine glasses, or a funny wine glass.

TV Show Gift Theme

Does everyone in your group love Friends? What about The Office? In this theme everyone would bring a gift centered around your favorite TV Show.

Drinking Vessel Exchange

Just like the wine and coffee mug exchange, this one offers more variety! You have to bring a gift that you can drink from. Coffee mug, wine glass, beer stein, shot glasses, martini glasses, etc.. The possibilities are endless.

12 Days Of Christmas Theme

In this theme each person must come up with a gift inspired by the twelve days of Christmas. You really need to think outside the box here, but some ideas could include: A gorgeous basket filled with pears (Partridge in a Pear Tree), homemade or store bought Turtle candy (Two Turtle Doves), and a Gift card to a local ice-cream shop (8 maids a milking) This article also has lots of ideas for each of the 12 song lyrics!

Christmas Decor

Each person brings Christmas decor as their gift. This one is fun because you can find some really unique Christmas decor! Perhaps a large blow up Santa Claus, or a gorgeous tableside Christmas tree.

Pizza Theme

Who doesn’t love pizza? In this theme, everyone has to bring something related to pizza night! Maybe a gift certificate to a local pizzeria, your favorite pizza topping basket, pizza plates, pizza coffee mugs, pizza kits or even The Pizzazz pizza maker!

Which White Elephant Theme Will You Pick?

We hope this list gives you some good inspiration for your next office or family party! We can’t wait to hear which white elephant gift themes your family or office picked and we’d love to hear what outlandish gifts people came up with.

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