What makes a “good” White Elephant gift?

white-elephant-gift-clipart-1“Should we keep these mugs that the Mazda dealership sent us with their logo?” I ask.

“Maybe — they might make a good White Elephant gift for my office,” Adam said.

Blog readers, I am here to ask you / vent about this: What exactly makes for a “good” White Elephant gift?

Back up. Around the holidays, many offices / groups of friends / families hold some kind of gift exchange. Instead of a more traditional (and religiously exclusive!) “Secret Santa,” some groups hold a “White Elephant” exchange. As far as I understand, the rules of this game are that people are supposed to bring a gift from their house or buy an inexpensive gift from the store that would make for a funny or random present.

Adam loves these exchanges and goes around all year looking at items as potential gifts. Mazda mugs! Mixing bowls with a drawing of ducks! The lamp from an old Aladdin Genie costume! People are going to love this!

I do not understand how to play this game.

These items are literally junk. Are we just playing a game of “pass around the junk from one person to another”? Is this assuming that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Because I finished tidying my house according to my celebrity tidying icon, and I’m not interested in accumulating items that other people think are tossable.

When it comes to junk, what makes one item a “good” White Elephant gift and another a “bad” one? Is it the humor involved?

The other piece of the White Elephant game is that you often do not know who will be receiving the gift in the end, whether people choose from wrapped gifts based on an assigned number, or people “steal” gifts, or a crazy set of laws that look straight outta the Gemara. If I knew who my intended recipient would be, I’d buy or find an amazing perfect gift that reminds that person of our friendship and a joke we once shared or a known love of ducks on mixing bowls. But the gift receiver is basically a stranger, which makes humor and personalization impossible.

The last thing I want to do is get a dorky gift that says something about me … but it’s hard to know how to avoid that.

So, dear friends, tell me: What guidelines do you use when selecting these gifts, and do you find this game enjoyable?

In the meantime, I’ll be off searching my closets for … oh boy, I’m so bad at this game I can’t even make something up to be funny here … an unopened pack of napkins with Disney princesses?


3 thoughts on “What makes a “good” White Elephant gift?

  1. I too love White Elephant games! Once I got. Julia Child cookbook that the giver had a duplicate of. Once I got a gallon of olive oil that the giver felt she would not use.

    My rule is no logo items. Funny are the things that someone has that you can’t imagine anyone would want. (Elvis on velvet perhaps, or big dad eyed children ). The idea is not junk, but stuff that someone would want…just not you!

  2. My parents’ office does a white elephant exchange every holiday season, but I am merely an observer.

    Then again, gift-giving is one of my most undeveloped qualities and is by far my weakest “love language.”

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s