Bits & Bites / Gifting: Decoded

Gifting: Decoded…White Elephant Party

Every once in a while I give a gift and can see that the recipient is truly thrilled to have gotten it.  It’s one of the best feelings ever – like, “I won!”  It’s not always easy to buy the perfect present so I’ve assembled some themed gift guides to help you out.


I love White Elephant parties!  In case you don’t know what White Elephant (aka Yankee Swap) is, it’s basically X-treme Secret Santa.  Everybody shows up with wrapped gifts and throws them in a pile.  Each person is then assigned a number, which dictates the order in which you choose your gift.  When it’s your turn, you can either pick an unwrapped gift from the pool or steal a previous player’s gift. If you steal someone’s gift, that person can then choose a new gift or steal from someone else.

I love it because it’s all in good fun.  When we play, there’s a $20 limit on gifts so nobody has to spend too much and everyone is on the same playing field.  A low price point also means you wind up with some fun gag gifts so there’s usually lots of laughs.  And it’s exciting!  Tensions are high as you worry whether or not your prized gift will get ripped from your hands.  Also, since this gift exchange is all about identifying the best prezzie, you want to be seen as the one who brought the most get-able gift.

Keep in mind that since you don’t know who the recipient will be, these gifts should be gender-neutral.

gifting decoded - white elephant

  1. A lot of people drink, but most don’t go through the effort of creating custom cocktails in their own home…unless they had a cool mixer handy, that is.  This hibiscus lavender syrup from RAFT would make a fabulous drink.
  2. In case the mixology helper above is still too much effort, stackable wine is always a good backup (and can be found at plenty of wine/liquor stores).  Anyone who lives alone will appreciate this.  You don’t have to open a whole bottle to only drink two glasses.
  3. One of the gifts that incurred the most stealing at last year’s gift exchange was Amy Poehler’s book, “Yes Please.”  Go with whatever is the most hyped humorous memoir of the season – I’m guessing this year it will be Mindy Kaling’s “Why Not Me?”
  4. Give the gift of lunch – a gummy lunch.  At only $6 for each mini lunch set, you can buy four of these adorable-and-in-no-way-healthy square meals.
  5. A fun beanie will get anyone in the holiday spirit immediately.  Considering some of the guests will probably have an ugly Christmas sweater party later in the season, they’ll probably find this helpful.
  6. My parents randomly stopped in an REI and discovered this amazing Moosejaw frisbee.  It’s crocheted like a hackey sack so the colors are fun and it’s far more portable/easy to stow.  It’s perfect for park days.
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