White elephant gift ideas for every budget in 2023

A white elephant gift exchange is a great option for family, friends and co-workers this season. Since you only have to buy one gift rather than something for everyone, it’s also a good way to keep holiday spending under control. A fun way to personalize your exchange is to choose a theme! By picking a common interest, such as books, board games or coffee mugs, you can establish a budget and give everyone inspiration on what to bring. 

But what exactly is a white elephant gift exchange, and what are some good ideas for a white elephant gift? Whether you pick something funny, something weird or something sweet, the only real rule is to make it interesting. Read on for inspiration.

Get the best deals available

Capital One Shopping applies coupon codes to your orders automatically.

Get it for free

What is a white elephant gift exchange?

A white elephant gift exchange is a game where everyone brings one wrapped gift each and then competes for the best present. It’s also known as Yankee Swap. 

The game organizer decides the exact rules and the individual spending limit. Typically, the exchange goes like this:

  • Players sit in a group where they can see the collection of wrapped gifts.

  • The first player selects a gift and opens it. 

  • The following players can either pick and unwrap another gift from the collection or steal a previous player’s opened gift. Anyone who has their gift stolen gets a chance to choose a new gift or steal from someone else.

  • Once everyone’s had a turn, the first player can choose to swap their gift for another opened gift. The previous owner of that gift can then steal from someone else. 

  • The game continues until someone declines to steal a gift. At that point, you have the gift you’re going home with!

So what’s a good white elephant gift? Almost anything goes, really, as long as you follow the price suggestion and any other special instructions the organizer provides. But the official website suggests a good guideline is to pick a gift that’s funny, weird or nice—something that’s going to get people talking or be in high demand.

Three circles featuring a cloud clock, baggage tag playing cards and no-show gripper socks.

White elephant gift ideas $15 and under

Cloud Clock

For the dreamer who needs a little help getting their head out of the clouds. 

Shop: Cloud Clock from Urban Outfitters

Baggage Tag Playing Cards

A deck of cards that can inspire a travel enthusiast’s next getaway while also providing traveling entertainment. 

Shop: Baggage Tag Playing Cards from New York Puzzle Company

No-Show Gripper Socks

A gift that gives back—for each pair purchased, they donate another to someone experiencing homelessness.

Shop: No-Show Gripper Socks from Bombas

Three circles featuring cheese board deck styling cards, a tabletop wood flip instax mini picture frame, and 1,000 record covers book

White elephant gift ideas for $25 and under

Cheese Board Deck Styling Cards

Inspired by the ultimate entertainer, whoever picks this will be the host with the most this season. 

Shop: Cheese Board Deck Styling Cards from Anthropologie

Tabletop Wood Flip Instax Mini Picture Frame

Give the gift of reminiscing! The perfect choice for the Instax user in your life. 

Shop: Tabletop Wood Flip Instax Mini Picture Frame from Urban Outfitters

1,000 Record Covers

A fun idea for music and art lovers alike. A solid coffee table book that will impress everyone. 

Shop: 1,000 Record Covers from Barnes and Noble

Three circles featuring Winter Mantel scented candle, piecework puzzle and Sherpa throw blanket.

White elephant gift ideas for $50 and under

Homesick Candles

The ultimate choice for any occasion, mood or memory. 

Shop: Homesick Candles from Homesick

Piecework Puzzles

Puzzles are a gift that everyone can enjoy! These rich and unique patterns will be sure to brighten up any space. 

Shop: Piecework Puzzles from Piecework

Cozy Pom Pom Sherpa Throw

Give the gift of coziness and snuggles this season. 

Shop: Cozy Pom Pom Sherpa Throw from Pottery Barn

White elephant gift ideas in a nutshell

Hopefully, this guide gave you some unique ideas for a white elephant gift exchange. Happy Shopping! 

Related Content