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Give your Friends and Coworkers the Ultimate White Elephant Party Experience

The holiday season is upon us, and it's time to start planning the perfect party for your friends or coworkers. If you want to create an unforgettable experience filled with energy and merriment, look no...

The holiday season is upon us, and it's time to start planning the perfect party for your friends or coworkers. If you want to create an unforgettable experience filled with energy and merriment, look no further than a white elephant gift exchange. This classic party game has limitless potential for fun and laughter, and with a few creative twists, you can take it to the next level. So, grab your reindeer antlers and get ready to host a white elephant party that will have guests raving into the New Year.

What is a white elephant gift exchange?

The concept of a white elephant party is simple - each person brings a wrapped gift without a designated recipient, and the gifts are exchanged at random. The origins of the term "white elephant" can be traced back to the early 1900s when party guests were instructed to bring items from their homes that they had no use for but didn't want to throw away. Today, this game has become a beloved tradition, and while an old ironing board might not be the best choice, the possibilities for hilarious and unexpected gifts are endless.

Left: A white invitation with illustrations of differently shaped and colored packages; right: a woman wearing reindeer antlers holds a present up and smiles. Image via Crazy Adventure Called Life

The rules of the white elephant gift exchange

While there are many variations of the game, here are the official rules according to the White Elephant Rulebook:

  1. Each guest brings a wrapped gift to contribute to the gift pile. Setting a spending limit, such as $10 or $25, ensures that all gifts are of similar value.
  2. Guests sit in a circle around the gift pile and take turns choosing a gift or stealing one from another guest. The number of times a gift can be stolen is predetermined to add an extra layer of excitement.
  3. The game continues until all participants have had a chance to choose a gift, and the first player may choose to swap their gift one last time.
  4. The stealing and swapping end when no further thievery is provoked, and everyone gets to keep their final gift.

Overhead photograph of gifts on red background. Image via Pexels

Excite your partygoers with the perfect white elephant invitations

When it comes to party planning, setting expectations is key. Your white elephant gift exchange invitations can do more than just communicate the date and time of the event. They can set the tone, provide instructions, and create anticipation for the fun-filled evening ahead. Whether you want something simple and classic or an invitation that screams "let's party," finding the perfect one will make your guests even more excited to participate.

A collection of holiday gifts including a cracker, a felt dog ornament, a nutcracker ornament, and a bulb ornament, with greenery.

Prepare the space for a white elephant party

To create a festive atmosphere for your white elephant party, you'll want to spruce up the space and embrace the kitschy, comedic nature of the event. Break out the holiday platters, hang colorful garlands, and scatter thrifted winter trinkets throughout the room. If you're hosting at home, make sure to showcase an evergreen tree with over-the-top ornaments. A table in the center of the room adorned with poinsettias and cookies will serve as the centerpiece for the gift exchange.

Left: A white invitation with an illustration of a brown dog tangled in wrapping paper and ribbon; right: an overhead photograph of a festive round bread with dip in the middle.

Tips for hosting a white elephant exchange for friends

White elephant parties with friends offer the opportunity to customize the event to suit your group's preferences. Whether you want a more personal gathering or are ready to crank up the volume, here are a few ideas to take your white elephant gift exchange to the next level:

  • Host a hand-crafted gift party: If your friends are arts and crafts enthusiasts, challenge them to bring only handmade gifts. From crocheted sweaters to wood-whittled birdhouses, the variety of gifts will make for a delightful affair.

  • Make it an ugly Christmas sweater party: Embrace the cozy holiday spirit by inviting everyone to wear their ugliest Christmas sweaters. Not only will this set the mood, but you can also turn it into a contest, with the winner receiving an extra gift at the end of the exchange.

  • Serve up holiday splurges: Treat your friends to their favorite holiday foods without the fuss of a formal dinner. Set up an appetizer table filled with delicious snacks like pigs in a blanket, bacon-wrapped dates, and plenty of desserts. The key is to keep it delicious and stress-free.

Left: A close-up photograph of the hands of two people exchanging presents; right: a white and gold invitation with an illustration of an elephant with a festive bow around its middle.

Tips for hosting a white elephant exchange for coworkers

Planning a white elephant party for coworkers requires navigating office etiquette and workday limitations. However, with the right approach, it can be a memorable event that brings colleagues together. Consider these tips to make your work-centered gift exchange a success:

  • Send reminders early and often: Make sure your coworkers are aware of the upcoming event by sharing the invitations well in advance and sending regular reminders to buy gifts. Keep the budget per gift low, such as $5-10, to ensure inclusivity.

  • Add a Christmas cookie swap: To keep the conversation flowing at a coworker gathering, organize a Christmas cookie swap. This activity encourages everyone to participate and provides an opportunity to discover hidden talents and share recipes.

  • Get cocktails approved: If your workplace allows it, tasteful cocktails can add a touch of sophistication to the event. Choose winter-themed concoctions or stick to beer and wine to create a festive atmosphere and encourage conversation among colleagues.

Creative white elephant gift ideas and themes for friends and coworkers

When it comes to choosing gifts for your white elephant party, you can either go completely random or choose a theme to inspire some curated gift-giving. Here are a few theme ideas to spark your imagination:

  • Local gifts only: Encourage guests to bring gifts unique to your town or city, supporting local makers and adding a personal touch to the exchange.

  • Self-care exchange: Make the theme all about self-care, with gifts that promote relaxation and wellness. From bath bombs to scented candles, there are plenty of options to indulge in.

  • Gag gifts: Perfect for friends who appreciate a good laugh, gag gifts can bring plenty of amusement to the party. Just make sure to gauge your audience before going too far with the humor.

  • Vintage gifts: Transport your guests back in time with a vintage-themed exchange. Suggest that gifts come from another decade, and enjoy the nostalgia and unique finds.

  • Movie-themed gifts: If your group shares a love for a particular film, make it the theme of your white elephant exchange. Encourage guests to bring gifts that appear in the movie, adding an extra layer of fun.

An animated online invite with the words "White Elephant" on a white sheepskin background.

Make your white elephant party unforgettable with Paperless Post

With Paperless Post, planning and hosting a white elephant gift exchange has never been easier. Browse their collection of share-anywhere invitations, use their instant event tracking features, and keep the party going with comment walls even after the festivities are over. Your holiday party is guaranteed to be a memorable one.

Don't wait any longer - Christmas is just around the corner, and your invitations are waiting to be sent. Happy swapping!

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