White Elephant Gift Exchange Themes

white elephant gift exchange themes

So, you’re planning a white elephant gift exchange and want to make it even more special than normal! Never fear, we can spice up your gift exchange party with the help of some white elephant gift exchange themes.

If you’re unfamiliar with a white elephant gift exchange, you can read more about them here, although given you’ve landed on this page to read this article, chances are good that you already know what a white elephant gift exchange is!

The beauty of these gift exchange themes is that you don’t have to limit yourself to just using them for a white elephant party – any type of gift exchange (and yes, there are many) can benefit from having a theme.

Using a theme for your gift exchange has a couple of different benefits:

  1. It can make your gift exchange a bit more exciting rather than just the same old Secret Santa or White Elephant every year.

  2. It can help guests who are really stuck for gift ideas to narrow down their search and focus on the theme to help them find a good gift to bring along.
white elephant themes

Here are some good ideas for themes for your gift exchange:

White Elephant Themes

  • The Alphabet – guests are assigned a different letter of the alphabet and have to bring along a ‘Gift Beginning With B’ or a ‘Present That Starts With A’ etc.

  • This theme can also be done in such a way in which every guest is asked to bring a gift that starts with the same letter. For example, everyone needs to bring a gift that starts with ‘E’ (for elephant). This way it is fun to see if everyone essentially brings along the same few items or if people really managed to embrace the theme and think outside the box.

  • Colors – pick a colored theme for your party where everyone has to bring along a gift of a certain color. Like the alphabet version, you can choose to have everyone choosing a gift of the same color – like white for white elephant – or you can assign a different color to each guest. That way you’ll get a colorful rainbow of gifts once everyone arrives at the party.

  • Workplace Theme – if your white elephant party is being held for your workplace Christmas party, you might like to choose a workplace theme for your white elephant gifts. Challenge your guests to bring along a white elephant gift that suits your workplace. If you work in an office, gifts might include staplers, markers and other stationary. If you work in a hospital, you might suggest gifts themed towards doctors and/nurses. If you work at a school, guests could be invited to bring along gifts that are teacher specific. 

  • Food – encourage your guests to bring along a gift that is edible or food themed. I wonder how many boxes of chocolates you’ll end up with at your gift exchange?

  • Gift Cards – everyone brings along a gift card of a certain value ($10-$20) is usually enough. There are so many different gift cards to choose from – Starbucks, Amazon, Movie Theaters… you name it, there’s a gift card for it, making this type of white elephant gift exchange extra fun as everybody wants to get the card of their favorite store.
white elephant themes - gift cards
  • Socks – guests are asked to bring along a pair of socks as a white elephant gift. That way everyone knows what they’ll be taking home from the party, but they don’t know the color or style of the socks they’ll be getting. There are plenty of fun sock designs these days so this theme should offer up plenty of scope for fun and laughs.

  • Hats/Caps – similar to the sock theme, everyone brings along a hat, cap or beanie to the gift exchange knowing they’ll be taking home a hat at the end of the event, but they won’t know which one!

  • Recipes – for the right group this can be a lot of fun. Everyone brings along their favorite, secret family recipe, typed or written out on a card or piece of paper. You never know what recipe you’ll be leaving with.

  • Cookies – along the same idea as the recipes, everyone bakes a plate of their favorite Christmas cookies. Decide beforehand whether or not guests should also include the recipe in their cookie package they bring to exchange.

  • Homemade Gifts – everyone brings along a gift that they have made themselves. This could include baked goods as well as other arts, crafts, woodwork etc.

  • Second Hand/Hand Me Down – in the true ‘White Elephant’ fashion, guests are asked to bring along something from their home that they don’t use anymore. It could be an ornament (like a white elephant!) or anything else like a book, some crockery…whatever they have. Like the old saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

  • Dollar Store – guests must only bring along a gift that they purchased at a dollar store. There’s plenty of variety to choose from and everyone can afford to play!

  • Alcohol – if your party only includes adult guests, then an alcohol theme can be a popular one. Set your price limit and then have your guests bring along a bottle of whatever tipple took their fancy for your gift exchange.
white elephant themes - alcohol
  • Smelly Stuff – challenge your guests to bring along a gift that smells! A nice smell, that is – scented candles, diffusers, room sprays, essential oils, perfumes…there’s plenty to work with here.

  • Christmas Ornaments – everyone brings along a Christmas ornament to exchange. There are plenty to choose from so this theme should result in a nice range of gifts.

  • Games – if your group is into games, then a game themed white elephant can be fun. New games can be expensive so you might decide to make this a second hand game theme where everyone brings along a board game (or other type of game) that they no longer use and exchange it for another. This would also work well for jigsaw puzzles.

  • As Seen On TV – one for all the late night TV shoppers! Challenge your guests to bring along a gift that has the ‘As Seen On TV’ slogan on it – or at least is a copy of one of the amazing products you’ll find on a TV shopping channel.

  • Books – especially if your gift exchange is with your book club, then a book themes white elephant gift exchange makes sense. Let the group decide beforehand whether to go with used or new books.

  • Jewelry – everybody brings along a piece of jewelry. Fun for those who wear jewelry, not so appealing for those who don’t!

  • Ugly Sweater – this can be a little more difficult due to sizing, but, if all of your guests are of similar size, then an ugly sweater themed party can be fun. Just to clarify, they should wear an ugly sweater to your party and also bring along an ugly sweater for the gift exchange.
white elephant themes - ugly sweater
  • Re-Gift – guests must bring along a gift that they have received before. It might even be the gift they took home from your last white elephant party!

Christmas parties are a lot of fun and they’re made even more special by including a themed white elephant gift exchange! 

Hopefully we’ve inspired you with a white elephant theme that will take your gift exchange to the next level and have all of your guests leaving with a smile (and some sort of gift).

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