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13 December 2018

How to Host a Better White Elephant Gift Exchange

It’s December, and that means it’s time for white elephant gift exchanges. These typically involve buying a relatively inexpensive gift that you share at a family gathering, holiday office party, or get together with friends.

‘Tis the season for entertaining, impractical gift giving

White elephant gift exchanges are similar to Secret Santa—except the goal is often how ridiculous, weird, hilarious or entertaining you can make your gift. The more creative the gifts, the more people compete to go home with them.

Here are our rules and best tips for this popular holiday ritual.

Two Simple Ways to Run the Gift Exchange

The Mild One (No Steals)

  1. Each person places their wrapped gift in a pile
  2. Each person picks a number
  3. Guests choose a gift from the pile in order of the numbers drawn
  4. The game continues until all numbers have been drawn and all gifts are unwrapped

The One With Extra Flavor
Instead of simply picking a gift and leaving it at that, you can let people compete over gifts. This version is usually more entertaining and takes longer than the Mild version.

  1. Each person can select a wrapped gift from the pile or choose to “steal” a gift from someone who’s already opened one.
  2. You can allow each gift to be “stolen” until the game is over, or to set a limit on how many times a gift can be “stolen.” The person in possession of the gift when the gift reaches its steal limit gets to keep it.
  3. The game ends when all gifts are unwrapped.

Four tips for hosting a buzz-worthy white elephant gift exchange

At Buffalo Wings & Rings, we enjoy creating an atmosphere where families can have a good time and come together around great food and great sports. While the white elephant gift exchange isn’t exactly a sport—it does require some strategy.

1. Establish a price limit.

Share the budget for the event when the invitation goes out. This ensures each gift has roughly the same value. Lower prices often force creativity. (Though be warned: you might end up with a roll of toilet paper.)

2. Go for the gifts worth fighting for.

Whether your budget is $5 or $25, look for a unique, funny, or covetable gift anyone could enjoy. Gifts that no one wants to give up makes for a more entertaining game.

  • A in-shower beer can holder
  • A Christmas Story leg lamp bottle opener
  • A Justin Bieber singing toothbrush
  • Cards Against Humanity 90s nostalgia pack
  • Popsocket
  • Unicorn tape dispenser

3. Stick to finger foods and offer a range of flavors.

When it comes to gift exchanges, simpler is better. Crowd-pleasing foods like wings and Buffalo Chicken dip are great for gatherings like this. People prefer sweet over heat, so make sure to have mild to medium sauces on hand.

4. Establish an engaging atmosphere.

Part of the brilliance of the white elephant gift exchange is that it works in nearly any setting. These get-togethers can last a while, so comfort is key. Provide ample seating and a clearly marked place to pile gifts. Set the pace and tone of the game with lively music. Place a jar of knock-knock jokes written on post-it notes in a clear jar next to the food to use as ice-breakers/conversation starters.

Feel free to host your gift exchange at your local Buffalo Wings & Rings, where we can take care of the food (and the cleanup) for you.

Best of luck on your gift exchange, and happy holidays!