Holiday Gift Guide: White Elephant Ideas

White Elephant Gift Exchange Ideas Under $25 Free Shipping - Wardrobe OxygenA white elephant gift exchange is a party game that often takes place at the holiday season. The term white elephant refers to a gift whose maintenance costs exceed its usefulness. It is based on the legend of the King of Siam gifting rare albino elephants to courtiers who displeased him,that they might be ruined by the animals' upkeep costs. These days white elephant gifts are to be humorous, gags, and meant to entertain. The concept is fun but finding the right gift at the right pricepoint can be stressful. This gift guide is for those of you attending a white elephant exchange, looking for the white elephant gift ideas under $25 that are gender neutral, good for a broad range of ages and personalities.

In general, I recommend not buying white elephant gifts that are related to alcohol, have drug references, or are food (or food related, like bacon-printed socks). While you may find it funny, others may find it against their beliefs, their culture, or their recovery. All the suggestions below have free shipping; I chose most with Amazon with Prime shipping so you can get it to your home or office in time for your event!

White Elephant Gift Ideas: Gifts under $25 with free shipping for a white elephant exchange party at the holidays

Black Light Putty

This moldable putty changes color in the sunlight, glows in the dark, and with the included blacklight can glow when you “draw” on it. It doesn’t dry out and receives rave reviews from people young and old. While it’s not something anyone needs, it’s a fun thing to have on a desk to play with when trying to find inspiration or survive a boring conference call. $15.00 via Uncommon Goods.

Desk Vacuum

This mini version of a shop vac is a functioning vacuum for your desk that sits at only 4” in height. With two attachments that will catch all the crumbs that fell in your keyboard while working through lunch. $19.99 via Amazon.

LEGO Venice Architecture

Speaking from experience, LEGOs are still fun when you’re an adult. I may claim to be helping Emerson do a LEGO set for the first time but really I’m enjoying myself. This LEGO set of Venice, Italy features the Rialto Bridge, St. Marks Basilica, St. Mark's Campanile, St. Theodore and the Winged Lion of St. Mark, and the Bridge of Sighs. The included booklet contains information about the designer, architecture and history of each structure, as well as historical facts about Venice and its architectural heritage. $21.99 via Amazon.

LED Finger Lighting Gloves

This is the kind of present that will be enjoyed at the party, be a blast on New Year’s Eve, and can be passed on to kids for a fun distraction. Get your inner raver on with these light-up LED gloves with seven colors and six modes of flashing lights. Even better, batteries are included! $13.99 via Amazon.

Chia Kermit

The Chia Pet is always a white elephant classic. I chose Kermit the Frog because everyone loves him (and my dad’s name was Kermit so it’s a personal fave), but there’s plenty of versions out there that may better fit the culture of your workplace or your circle of friends. $12.67 via Amazon.

Star Wars Lunchbox

Friends or coworkers young and old will enjoy the retro vibe of this lunchbox. Star Wars is a safe bet, but this link also has lunchboxes for Pac Man, Star Trek, Doctor Who and more. $13.00 via Amazon.

Rosie the Riveter Action Figure

With her trademark red and white polka dot bandanna and determined look, Rosie is ready to you’re your friend or coworker to success! Comes complete with a full color display window box with short history of the Women Ordinance Workers. $21.49 via Amazon.

Horse Head Squirrel Feeder

This squirrel feeder inspired this gift guide when I randomly came across it when searching for a different gift. I read the reviews how people found it so ridiculous, it actually worked without harming any animal, and some purchasers put it outside their office windows that I knew I had to add it to a white elephant gift list! $14.95 via Amazon.

Nicolas Cage Pillowcase

These pillowcases have been a weird and wonderful item on the internet for a bit. The reviews on Amazon make it even more ridiculous and awesome of a gift. Whoever opens this will think WTF but it will spark a lot of conversation. I chuckle just thinking about it. $9.02 via Amazon.

10. Flux Capacitor Phone Charger

Where we’re going we don’t need roads… but in this day and age we need our Smartphone charged to enjoy the journey! Inspired by Back to the Future, this Flux Capacitor wall charger can juice up two devices at once. $16.99 via ThinkGeek where shipping is free for orders $75 and more. Amazon has a car charger option for $17.39 with free Prime shipping.

10 Comments

  1. Emily
    December 9, 2016 / 3:36 pm

    I’ve never heard of a white elephant exchange!! Is it like a Secret Santa? How does it work??!

    • December 13, 2016 / 12:24 pm

      Everyone brings a wrapped unlabeled gift and puts them on a table. Then each person takes at random a slip of paper with a number on it. The first person goes up and picks a present and opens it in front of everyone. The second person can either steal their gift or pick a wrapped gift. And so on. A gift can be “stolen” usually only twice. Then at the end, the first person who went can come back and steal if they wish. It’s extra fun to put something small in a big box,wrap something in bubble wrap to change its shape, put pennies or pebbles in it so it shakes, so people have no idea what is inside.

  2. Diane Schafer
    December 8, 2016 / 11:02 am

    I love a white elephant exchange! I wouldn’t worry about pop culture references – there’s always a closet Star Wars fan in every crowd, lol! We do one for work and it’s always a hoot! You find out a lot about people’s creativity! One year I got “fish and chips” – a beta fish with several snack size bags of chips – a gift with a commitment, lol. I gave a copy of the Elf DVD in a gift bag with the 4 food groups: Candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup with a box of spaghetti as a bonus.

    I also do one with my girlfriends and we usually do a theme – we did ornaments a couple years and this year we’re doing a fun “stuffed” sock exchange, but always following the white elephant format of stealing an opened gift or unwrapping a new one – laughter always abounds!

    • December 8, 2016 / 11:21 am

      We had our company white elephant last night and it was so funny. A few of the fun and popular gifts:
      – A selfie stick and a pack of props on sticks (mustaches, glasses, etc.)
      – My submission! http://amzn.to/2goxPKt
      – A holiday mug with a Starbucks gift card (this was the one everyone was trying to steal)
      – A sandwich press (it was strange, but people really wanted it and caused some major stealing and laughs)

      The suggestions you offered are AWESOME! I LOVE the Elf idea, it’s my favorite movie!

  3. LoriM
    December 6, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    These are great; any of these would work for our extended family exchange, but I already bought the “candle by the hour” I think you recommended in another post (was that you?) I’m going to have to add these to my lists, though, for future ref. Or maybe for husband’s stocking. Hmmmm.

    Also – your definition of a white elephant gift is interesting. I have never heard that before, I thought it was a re-gift or something ridiculous/useless that you own and don’t want anymore.

    • Ginger
      December 6, 2016 / 10:26 pm

      The ones I’ve been in were regifts. There is also a variation where people can take the person who just opened a gift away, or open a new gift. It depends on the group whether the gifts are supposed to be useful, or go into a cupboard to be gotten out the following year and given again.

      • LoriM
        December 7, 2016 / 10:51 am

        Yep, we play that game. Sometimes we go around the circle a couple times – ha!

  4. December 6, 2016 / 12:58 pm

    As cute as they are, I’d also remove some of these pop-culture related gifts (Star Wars, Kermit, Nick Cage, Rosie the Riveter), unless you’re sure everyone will get the joke. This is the hardest thing to do at work, where the groups can be all very multicultural, with many people who weren’t born in the U.S., or among large family groups with folks of different ages, so not everyone may share the same set of references. It kills me, these kind of gift exchanges can be fun but they’re so hard to shop for!

    • December 8, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Last night at my company white elephant someone got David Bowie’s last CD and she didn’t know who he was. By far the most popular was a Starbucks gift card and the LEAST was candles!

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