White Elephant Gift Giving

Christmastime means office parties, holiday dinners, and present exchanges. It can be an overwhelming time of year, as you frantically try to find the absolute perfect gift for everyone on your list. But we have good news for you! If you’re participating in any white elephant gift exchanges—you already have the gift at your house! After all, you know what they say about another (wo)man’s trash.

Over time, we all gather items in our homes that we’ve never once used. Sometimes they’re still in the package! So before you rush out to get a gift for your office party or friend Christmas, take a look around your house first.

Note: Because white elephant gift exchanges have varying rules, we’ve included optional purchased items to pair with your at-home goodies—in case a portion of the gift should be store-bought.

1. Unused Candles

You know—the nice ones you get for birthdays and holidays that you don’t like, but feel to bad throwing away? Perfect for a white elephant swap! Wrap a nice, big bow around the top and partner with your favorite CD if there’s a dollar limit.

2. The Crock Pot You Never Use

White Elephant Crock Pot GIft

Maybe you have two. Maybe you bought it with good intentions, and never opened the box. The reason doesn’t matter! This gift is perfect on its own, but if you feel obligated to spend a few dollars, include a blank recipe book or measuring cups.

3. Old Picture Frames

In good condition, of course. Bundle a bunch together for ready-to-go decoration. If you have pictures with the people you’re exchanging gifts with, include those in the frame for fun. If you don’t have pictures, you can never go wrong with dog photos.

4. Glassware Set

You can certainly have too many cups. If there’s a set you never use, bring ’em! Bonus points if there’s an uneven amount—after all, white elephants are all about fun. Add a set of coasters into the bag for a tempting bundle. But remember to only include enough coasters for each glass!

5. Unread Books

White Elephant Unread Books Gift

Even if you’re not a reader, you have unused books. It could be in the form of old cookbooks, coffee table easy readers, or style look books. Include a notebook and some pens if the white elephant rules dictate you spend some dollars.

6. Bottle of Wine

Really, any unopened bottle of alcohol will do the trick. Maybe someone brought you a housewarming gift when you don’t drink red. Or maybe it was a favor from a wedding you were too nervous to try. Wine charms or whiskey stones will be the perfect complement.

7. Recipe Book

With recipes in it, of course! Take the time to write down some of your favorite concoctions in a recipe book for a universal gift. Pair with a bag of chocolate chips, or gift card to a local grocery store.

12 White Elephant Gifts You Already Have

8. TV DVD Series

We know—who watches TV on DVD anymore? That’s exactly what makes this the perfect white elephant gift! It’s quirky and useful. While the value of this gift is likely within any budget, wrap up a box of microwave popcorn for the lucky recipient to munch on while watching.

9. Last Year’s Workout Equipment

The dumbbell weights you never used or the Yoga mat you had the best of intentions with make the perfect re-gift. It’s hard to get a new habit going, and if these items are just taking up space, why not pass them on? Purchase some headbands or a water bottle for a store-bought touch.

10. Laptop Bag

Anyone have three laptop bags laying around? We sure do! Wrap one up with some pens, pencils, and a notebook inside for a useful and unique present. If your white elephant party is at an office, everyone will have their eye on this!

11. Cocoa and Mugs

White Elephant Cocoa and Mugs Gift

As we’ve said earlier—you can definitely have too many mugs. Why not part with a few, even if it’s just to make room for more? Fill them with marshmallows, cocoa packets, and candy canes and your gift is complete!

12. Promotional Tchotchkes

Anything goes for this one: branded stress balls, bottle openers, pens, magnets, notepads. Anything that’s handed out at conferences or fairs. To make things really fun, ask around your office and see just how many you can round up.


Did you take a look around your house? What from this list did you find? Or maybe you found something entirely different. Tell us the story below!