Page 53: The Holiday Gift Guide–White Elephant Edition!

The holiday season is well upon us, my friends! And along with that comes parties. And along with THAT comes at least one White Elephant Gift Exchange. Some people call it Dirty Santa or Nasty Christmas or Yankee Swap?

I remember my first White Elephant Gift Exchange. In college, I got an invitation to a party. The invitation said that the party would include a White Elephant Gift Exchange and I had no idea what that meant. My friends tried to explain it to me, “You just bring something funny.” Okay, well, this was not very helpful. And I was a college student living on about $64/ mo so I had to get really creative. I was overwhelmed and went to the thrift store and found a stuffed Gizmo from Gremlins. Surprisingly, he was a hit!

I always have a ton of fun at these parties though they do come with their own levels of anxieties. It’s always so much fun to see what everyone else brought but there’s so much pressure to impress with your gift! It has to be funny and something that would appeal to everyone since anyone could end up with your gift! And when you’re talking about, say, an office Holiday party—there could very well be a large cross-section of the general population represented in that group and sometimes humor is just not a universal characteristic. With so much pressure it’s easy for your mind to go blank. But don’t give up! Let me help you with some ideas. Try one of these out and let me know how it goes!!

1. DIY is an obvious way to keep costs low but what if you kind of half-assed it? Give an incomplete DIY project. Knit half of a mitten, frame a ½ finished paint by number, or wrap up a bottle of Elmer’s glue, a bag of popsicle sticks, and some printed instructions on how to build a bird house.
2. Go big or go home, go way overboard in the DIY department! Take on a very simple project and make it a big friggin’ deal. Transform an ordinary photo frame into something covered in feathers, glitter, and crystals. Go further and include a photo of yourself.
3. If you’re like me and it pains you to give a useless gift, look to the internet to find a silly version of something useful. A few years ago, my best friend gave us a pair of wooden spoons that looked like drumsticks (my husband is a drummer). Another time, my sister in law gave me a set of measuring cups made to look like Russian nesting dolls. Here’s a link to the Fred and Friends website which is chock-full of silly versions of useful things. Including my favorite, the Pizza Boss 3000.
4. A big play on an inside joke. If you’re close with all of the people at your party (if it’s with a group of close friends or a class or office party), odds are pretty good that you all have an inside joke or two that would be funny to bring up. Maybe you can cross-stich a sampler with an oft-quoted phrase amongst your group.
When my older brother worked for a company in town, they held Christmas parties where the employees went all out for their White Elephant gifts. My brother took this very seriously and one year he created an entire new-hire manual that looked past all of the obvious how-to stuff about work and, instead, focused on the things that you learn after time at your new job. Things like, I don’t know, who is the one who always tries to leave early, catch phrases, and hilarious tricks for maneuvering the social landscape of the workplace.
5. The ultimate, classic White Elephant gift is an awesome thrift-store find. Something that is heinously tacky but so perfect that you can’t ignore it. And for this example, I will share the best gift anyone in my life has ever received. This gift was won by my sister at last year’s office party. I give you The Backstreet Boys Clock:


BONUS IDEA: Have you ever thought of just giving a White Elephant? Here are a few to consider.

I hope this helps! Let me know what you think. Have you ever gotten or given a White Elephant gift that you’ve been really excited about??


3 thoughts on “Page 53: The Holiday Gift Guide–White Elephant Edition!

  1. Jamie says:

    Once, I was on the receiving end of a deer leg. An actual, severed deer leg. Needless to say, I was horrified and PISSED. So I would add to make sure that your gift isn’t in poor taste.
    Your cover photo inspired me to want to add one of those cute, homemade hot cocoa or mug cake packets!

  2. That Office episode is SO cringe-inducing. One time at the annual “Mac Friends” white elephant party we were on the receiving end of a Christmas Carol CD featuring “Santa’s Farting Elves.” We put it in the CD player and the whole room was in tears.

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