Have you ever wondered where the tradition of the White Elephant Gift Exchange came from? Well, according to legend, the term originates from the kingdom of Siam, modern day Thailand, where the Siamese King would gift albino elephants to those he disliked. In Thai and Buddhist cultures, white elephants were admired and respected, so one would think being given one was a true gift. But in fact, it was the exact opposite. Albino elephants are rare animals and very expensive to care for, consuming 200-600 pounds of food per day. Due to their sacred nature, these elephants were not able to be regifted or put to work.


With that in mind, choose a gift with these ideas in mind…

  • The recipient will like the gift,
  • Find the gift funny,
  • Find a real use for it,
  • Be able to regift it at another gift exchange, or
  • Make other participants jealous!

When it comes to White Elephants gifts, you don’t always have to go out and buy something. Often times you can find worthy enough gifts around your own home. Although, some groups set a $10-$20 gift limit for gift exchanges!

Some things you should consider not gifting from your own home are…

  • Broken/damaged items,
  • Items that are old and used,
  • Outdated electronics and pieces that don’t work,
  • Items missing parts, or
  • Large heavy objects.

When participating in White Elephant, the point is to entertain, not gain.


If you don’t find anything in your home, here are a few inexpensive White Elephant gifts that are light and fun! Most of these were items I found at my local TJ Maxx, Ross, or Nordstrom Rack.

  1. Indoor snowball set
  2. Liquor dispenser (21+)
  3. Yeti mug
  4. Hot dog toaster
  5. Bath bomb set
  6. Portable speaker
  7. Fun(ny) socks
  8. Games
  9. Funny coffee mug
  10. Beer and food pairing kitchen towel

Click here to purchase any of these awesome White Elephant gifts! For more ideas and gift inspiration, click here!

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