White elephant gift exchanges are a blast, and they’re even better with the right preparation! Here’s exactly how to throw a great white elephant party for a group of couples.
Couple’s White Elephant Party
Rob and I hosted this particular white elephant party YEARS ago, but it still tops the chart as one of the funniest nights we’ve spent with our friends.
If you’ve never been to or thrown a white elephant exchange, we’re spilling allllll the details of our night so you can plan, host, or attend your own and replicate all the fun!
What is a White Elephant Gift Exchange?
Sometimes referred to as a Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa Party, a White Elephant Party is a get-together where participants bring funny and impractical gifts to exchange with other party guests.
Legend has it that long ago the King of Siam would give rare albino elephants to people of the court whom he didn’t like. These people would be stuck caring for this huge animal that was not only inconvenient but costly, too.
With that in mind, the goal of a white elephant gift exchange is to entertain party guests rather than to receive any gift of high value.
White Elephant Gift Ideas
The best white elephant gifts are usually unwanted items that make people laugh. Bonus points if you come up with an idea that cannot be easily disposed of! (My husband brought a 10-lb bag of carrots to his office work party one year – his coworkers still talk about how clever that idea was!)
Here are some white elephant gift ideas. Some of these items are for adults only, so be sure to plan accordingly if you have kids playing with you –
How to Plan the Perfect White Elephant Party
Here are all the details of what we did at our most-successful white elephant party –
PARTY FOOD –
You don’t need to do a big, formal meal to make it a fun party!
Our party was pot-luck style, which meant not everything fell on me to prepare, AND it made for a fun variety of foods for everyone to try. (It also saved money, too!)
Rob and I provided a few of our favorite party foods, as well as the drinks, paper goods & utensils.
PARTY INVITATIONS –
Our invitations told guests to bring three things –
- 2 wrapped white elephant gifts per couple (we put a $10 price limit on all gifts)
- their favorite party food – a dessert, appetizer, or favorite finger food
To download our printable invitation, add your name and email address to the form below. You’ll be added to our weekly newsletter, but you can unsubscribe at any time!
White Elephant Game
- 3×5 cards
- pens/pencils for each guest
- small bowl or basket
As our guests arrived, they mingled and ate. They were also given a 3×5 card and a pen and they were asked to secretly write down something about their spouse that not too many people knew – a hidden secret or a talent.
They dropped their papers into a basket and once we had an answer from everyone, we were ready to play our game!
White Elephant Rules
We took the basket of “hidden secrets” and put all the wrapped gifts in the center of the room. I drew one “secret” from the bowl and read it. The room then would try to guess who’s secret I just read and when it was confirmed that “Sally” was the one who “made animal noises in her sleep”, Sally would then get to pick a present from the pile of gifts, or she could steal an unwrapped gift that had already been opened. We allowed gifts to be stolen twice.
It was a pretty unique way of exchanging gifts and the laughter was non-stop!!! People were laughing at the secrets being told, then laughing even more when the random gifts were opened.
We got a whole spectrum of “hidden secrets”- from “My wife drove a bus as an occupation in college,” to “My husband does the same naked dance each time he gets out of the shower!” It was fun to see what some people came up with, and since you were telling a “secret” about your spouse and not yourself, people gave info up more freely and it was a whole lot funnier!
Since we had a large group of people, (about 20 couples) this took quite a bit of time and was the only activity needed the entire night. If your group is smaller, we have a whole bunch of Party Games for Adults that you can add to your party schedule!
Let me know if you have any party questions!
Have so much fun!