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!

Savory Sundays: Goat Cheese Holiday Truffles

G and I had a great Thanksgiving break. We traveled down to Indy and spent the day with G’s family. Our brother and sister-in-law also came from Iowa with our four-month-old nephew, and we were both in heaven. We absolutely love that little turkey, and any text/Snapchat/minute we’re able to have with him is a treasure. There is quite a bit to be thankful for this year, but little Z is definitely at the top of our list.

Another big blessing this year is our new home. With all our in-progress improvements, we decided to host an intimate Friendsgiving and game night. I love hosting these kinds of parties, but could only handle a small gathering this year with everything else happening. So we asked four of our friends to join us in a night of great food and better fellowship — and our hopes were over-filled! I’ll share our full menu in a future post, but I have to share this new and awesome recipe with you, friends. It is the perfect holiday appetizer, and makes a great breakfast too — trust me, I’m munching on it right now as G and I enjoy our pre-church coffee. Mmmm…

This original recipe can be found on The Novice Chef, but I tweaked it a bit to my tastes — and I also chose to split the recipe into 12 truffles and a medium-sized cheeseball for our Friendsgiving. They will be a part of our future holiday celebrations for years to come because they are DELISH!

Goat Cheese Holiday Truffles

  • Servings: 16+ Truffles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

These festive truffles take little time and taste like Christmas. Help your taste buds celebrate the holidays with these tasty little treats.

Ingredients

  • 10 oz goat cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp honey (or more, to taste)
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • handful fresh parsley

Directions

  1. Beat goat cheese, cream cheese, cinnamon and honey until light and fluffy.
  2. Fold in 1/2 cup pecans and set aside.
  3. Toss remaining pecans, Craisins, and parsley on parchment paper.
  4. Scoop our cheese filling with a spoon, roll into a ball, and roll through pecan mixture until covered.
  5. OR Roll cheese filling into a large cheese ball, and roll through pecan mixture until covered.
  6. Continue with all truffles.
  7. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

You can serve these truffles with crackers, which also is easy to do as a giant cheeseball. Or you can serve the truffles on a toothpick — they are delicious just on their own!

Enjoy, friends!

My Cup of Thankfulness

How richly my cup overflows. (A very Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friends.)

With every year I age and mature, I seem to find a little bit more wisdom in what I find to be blessings. Each year I realize those blessings become things less and less. Instead, my blessings, for the greatest part, are the people in my life who love me, care for me, support me, and keep me grounded during times of turmoil and stress as well as achievement and excitement.

The last two Sundays at church have been quite the God-send for me. Last week the sermon was on a look into the beginning of Chapter 4 of Philippians, specifically verses four through six:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

One of my superpowers is worrying. I worry about my family, I worry about my friends, I worry about my car, my heat bill, the fight with my best friend in second grade… Heck, I come up with more plausible situations for the outcome of an argument in any given morning shower than there have been episodes of Survivor. It doesn’t truly take me a half hour to wash my hair; I’m actually dissecting every single direction the other party may go and my rebuttal so that I’m prepared! To quote Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

One might think that my biggest stress lately would be wedding planning. Yet in all honesty, it hasn’t been. As the holidays approach I find myself missing certain people in my life a lot and worrying over their absence more than is mentally and emotionally healthy. I’ve been using wedding planning as a detracting agent for this larger stress, and you know what, friends, covering one stress with another isn’t a great strategy. (Who would have thought!?)

These words in Philippians, along with a heavy dose of meditation this past week, reminded me though that anxiety will not help me through anything in my life. There is a reason God misplaced and/or replaced certain people in my life, and my path is in His hands. It is with this thinking that I wish to move forward with the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 and the rest of my life.

When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty, I want my only response to be how incredibly thankful I am that I have a cup.

Not only do I want to remember this with the people in my life (which, as I’ve said, I consider my greatest gifts) but also with my other blessings such as my talents, my job, my home, my volunteering, and my possessions. There is so many things I forget to be grateful for throughout the day. Living with a grateful heart is only the beginning of greatness, after all. It is an expression of humility and of true thanksgiving to our Father for all He provides. It is a foundation for the development of so many other virtues such as faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.

A dear friend of mine has told me she makes a motion to begin every morning with a Movement of Gratitude. I think this is such an amazing approach to beginning the day. Though I am not positive her exact formula, I have been studying this theory and want to develop my own plan of action for the future.

So, before I get out of bed each morning and begin my day I will:

  1. Take five long breaths in and out
  2. Stretch every inch of body, paying attention to all my muscles and joints
  3. Express gratitude for waking to another day
  4. Smile for no reason
  5. Set intentions for the day
  6. Forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes
  7. Compliment three things about myself

There are so many ways in which I could look at my younger years and not be grateful for the cup handed me. Within the last few years, I was not of the same mindset. I was someone who feared change, I held grudges, I criticized, and I was someone who thought she understood far more than she actually did.

Now though, I embrace change and roll with the punches. Even within the last few months I am amazed at how quickly I have adapted to changes I never saw coming — new job, loss of my best friend, engagement — all within half a year’s time. Sometimes I marvel at God and His plan. What does He have planned for me?

This thinking was reinforced with today’s Testimonial Service. The Sunday following Thanksgiving is always a service full of testimonies on how God has touched members’ lives at my church. It is one of the most beautiful services I have ever attended, and one which I was most grateful to witness this year.

Though all testimonies have a significant power in their own right, this year’s service was especially wonderful because G chose to give his testimony in front of the congregation. I’ve provided the video below so you are welcome to view this at your leisure, friends — he appears at about 36:20 — and his message is incredibly powerful. I could not be more proud to be marrying this man. G has gone through more trials in 29 years than most men do in their entire lives and he is still one of the most grounded, sincere, and upstanding men I know. His character was what initially drew me to him, and his quick-wit and humor, along with so many other amazing qualities, are what kept me coming back.

Following the service and witnessing the testimonies of multiple members, not only G, I was able to put my own life and situations into perspective. I am so incredibly blessed by God! He has guided me through some dark times this past year, in my own right, and brought me out unscathed and into a brighter and much more loving environment. It amazes me that I still allow myself to worry over trivial things when I know that He is always working towards the best in my life. It is time, again, to lay my worries at His feet and turn my face towards Him in prayer and servitude.

God is so good! 

This Thanksgiving was a great reminder of His blessings as well. Time was well spent with family and beloved friends. There were so many tears cried from laughter over the long weekend and far too much good food eaten — Wow! Do the women in our families know how to cook!

So as I move forward into the Christmas season, I am moving away from my worthless worries of the past and into a new gratitude spirit. Who would like to join me in my endeavor? You are all welcome!