Your Ultimate Guide to Hosting an Unforgettable White Elephant Exchange
Make it a party with these easy Christmas game ideas. If you've chosen the color scheme and the food for your Christmas gathering, it's time to pick the party entertainment, including fun Christmas games to play. Try a classic white elephant gift exchange as a casual, fun way for party guests to get to know each other.
A white elephant gift exchange deserves its reputation as a perennial Christmas game favorite. Whether it's a gathering of friends, family, or coworkers, a white elephant allows partygoers to relax and enjoy some good-natured laughter. Plus, you can see whether or not your bestie's new boyfriend has a good sense of humor. If you haven't played it before, read our simple white elephant rules. If you have played before, try one of our variations for a twist on the traditional white elephant game at your next holiday party.
White Elephant Rules
White elephant is a gift exchange, so each person must bring one wrapped present to the Christmas party. Once everyone is assembled, have each person draw a number. The person with number "one" chooses a present to unwrap. The person with number "two" has a choice: They may choose a new, wrapped present, or they may take the unwrapped present from the first person. If they take the present from the first person, that person chooses another present to unwrap. The person with the number "three" may choose any previously unwrapped present or a new, wrapped one. The game continues until all presents have been unwrapped and everyone has a gift.
Related: Get our best white elephant gift ideas.
How many people do you need?
At least four people should play, but white elephant works best with six or more. Beware: The more people that play, the longer the game will last.
Does the game have any limits?
White elephant can go on and on, so it's best to have some sort of limits—a present can only be "stolen" three times, for example, or a person can only have something stolen from them a maximum of three times. Some variations also allow the person who drew number "one" to be the final person to choose a present after everyone else is finished. The white elephant gift exchange rules and limits are up to you and party attendees—just make sure to define them all before the game begins.
How does someone win?
White elephant is a game where everyone wins; each person ends up with a present. Plus, the game itself is fun. What's a better gift than laughter?
Try these fun white elephant game variations:
- Put a specific dollar limit on gifts—and make it tricky. For example, each guest has to spend $10.51 exactly.
- Encourage each guest to bring a handmade gift. Check out our Christmas crafts ideas for inspiration!
- Have each person find something from their house or closet to give—no spending any money at all.
- Give every party attendee the same off-beat place that they need to buy gifts, such as a convenience or thrift store.
- Set a theme for gifts, such as a book or beauty product.