White Elephant Gift Exchange (With Printables!)

The holiday is quickly approaching and that means festivities are abound! One of my personal favorite parts of the holiday season is to attend and host Holiday/Christmas parties and be surrounded by family and friends. One fun way to increase the laughs and interaction from all those at your holiday shindig is to host a White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Not sure what that entails? In the case you have never participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchange, I have drawn a little list together of how to host one and even provided some graphics for easy planning! Here is how the exchange works:

A White Elephant Gift Exchange is basically a surprise package in every way. First of all, every guest/participant should bring a wrapped, unlabeled gift along with them to the party. The gifts may have a monetary limit to them (my friends and I have decided on a maximum spending of $20 for each of our gifts) and be of any theme possible. The wackier the gift, the more entertaining the reactions and exchange!

Once the exchange time is arrived, arrange all the wrapped gifts in one area to allow them all to be visible. Some may be very small and other very large. Be sure every participant is able to see them all.

Then have guests choose a number from a hat/basket/whatever. This number represents their position in the exchange and is completely random. (Check below for a printable which has pre-designed numbers already available.)

When all your guests have a number, the exchange may begin. Number One is first up to select a gift from the pile. After he or she chooses their wrapped gift, he/she opens it in front of the group. Number One then returned to their seat with their new gift and waits for the exchange to continue.

Now it is Number Two’s turn. Number Two can choose one of two options: select an unwrapped gift from the pile OR steal the gift which has now been unwrapped. Some gifts may be more desirable than others, so Number Two has to make the decision. If Number Two decided to open a new gift, then he/she does so in front of the group and returns to their seat just as Number One did prior.

However, if Number Two decides to steal Number One’s gift, then Number One can select a new gift from the pile. It is a dog-eat-dog world after all.

After Number Two’s turn (or Number One’s new choice is unwrapped), Number Three has the same decision to make: unwrap a new gift or steal one of the gifts previously unwrapped. With the complete randomness of gift selection, prepare for laughable moments!

This process continues through all the numbers. Following the last number’s selection of opening or stealing, Number One gets one more option to keep their current gift, open a gift (if there are any more), or steal one final time. Upon Number One’s final choice, the exchange ends and all gifts are now the property of their current owner. Merry Christmas to you!

Each gift can only be stolen THREE times before it must remain in the possession of the True Master. True Master = Permanent Owner This means the third thief gets to keep that stolen gift for the remainder of the exchange with no more threat of loss.

White Elephant Printable

For anyone wishing to host a White Elephant Gift Exchange, I designed this little printable. Please feel free to print this, frame it, and use at your party. The PDF also includes a page of 1-40 numbers for your easy convenience. Cut them out, throw them in a hat, and you’re ready to party!

Click here to download the White Elephant Exchange rules and number sheet.

The best part about this gift exchange is that you can tweak it to fit your needs. Decide on the cost of the gift and have guests bring the gift wrapped and unmarked to the party. You can even set a theme for the gifts: handmade, coffee table books, movie, gag, etc. There are so many way to have fun with a White Elephant Gift Exchange! I’ve collected some great gifts over the years including a sushi recipe book, yoga ball, and neon-colored duct tape.

I would love to hear about your experience of having a White Elephant Gift Exchange! Did you get anything exciting?

Have fun, friends!

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