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What's a White Elephant? And Other Weird Gift Customs

What's a White Elephant? And Other Weird Gift Customs

According to Wikipedia, "The term white elephant refers to an extravagant but burdensome gift that cannot be easily disposed of." This was based on the legend of the King of Siam who gave rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, that they might be ruined by the animals' upkeep costs. Etymology of the term aside, White Elephant gift exchanges have become the norm in settings where the actual gift exchange process becomes as much of the tradition as the gifts themselves.

Editorial | 7 months ago | White Elephant  Secret Santa  Yankee Swap 

White Elephant Gift Exchange

It begins with everyone bringing a wrapped gift, usually with a spending limit invoked. Each person draws a number, to determine the order of gift-grabbing.

On the first turn, the selected person opens their gift. The second person in line gets to either "steal" the gift from the first gift-receiver, or they open one of the unwrapped gifts. If someone gets their gift stolen, they are able to grab a new gift from the unwrapped pile. The third person to go can either "steal" from the first two gift-openers or open a new one. This process continues until all gifts are open. Sometimes, the person with the first turn has the option at the end to then steal the gift of their choice.

Even though an emphasis of this game is on the entertainment value of the unusual (or downright unwanted) gifts available - quite often it becomes a game to try to steal the best gift in the pile - because invariably someone brings actual sought-after gifts to the White Elephant exchange.

Be that someone:

Watch the dog lovers in the group fight over the Dog Wood Box, an adorable pup made of sustainable birch wood and able to hide small treasures.

Start the party-goers dreaming over warmer days with a Pizza Slice Inflatable Pool Float.

Or get your friends considering "wasting away" in Margaritaville with a Corkatoo Waiter's Corkscrew.

Yankee Swap

An alternate version of this game, known as a Yankee Swap (named for Civil War soldiers swapping prisoners of war to get their own soldiers being held prisoner back from the other side), allows people to swap gifts after the "battle," so everyone goes home happy.

If your party has this Yankee Swap twist to it, try one of these soon-to-be-coveted gift choices:

Have a bicyclist in your group? Consider this Bicycle Pizza Cutter to remind them it's OK to indulge in the cheesy goodness that is pizza, after all that pedaling.

Go old school with a ViewMaster Box set. Featuring three reels and a reel storage case, this gift is sure to be "stolen" several times.

Secret Santa

A December office staple, a Secret Santa gift custom is a great way to bond with colleagues you might not otherwise connect with. It also works great as a way to keep gift costs down in large families.

Secret Santa "rules" are flexible, but are essentially this: Everyone's name goes into a hat (or a stocking, just to keep with the Christmas theme). Each person draws one name and becomes Secret Santa to that person. They then proceed to buy a gift, or series of gifts, and deliver them as stealthily as the Bearded Man, himself. Maximum spending limits are normally set to help even out the playing field (and not break the bank.) At the end, the gift givers are revealed.

Match Santa's ingenuity and generosity with one of our curated gifts:

Start the gift giving with something small and personal, like the Folding Wood Beard & Mustache Comb for him or the Chloe 5 piece variety fragrance set for her.

Celebrate the past, while accommodating the technology of today, with the Victrola Solid Suitcase Bluetooth Record Player. The lucky recipient can spin vinyl or connect their Bluetooth music device for some great tunes.

Or provide some challenging fun for your competitive gift recipient with a Mini-Table-Top Foosball game.

Whatever unique gift giving opportunities and games arise during this holiday season, check out EzGiftHouse.com for all of your gift-giving needs. We've already searched the internet for you and have gathered all of the best choices for White Elephants, Yankee Swaps, Secret Santa, and more!

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