White Elephant is one of my favorite Christmas traditions. I have quite a few memories of picky cousins and tipsy aunts and uncles fighting over the best gift, and it’s always fun for the whole family. Especially if you have a big group, a White Elephant gift exchange is a great way to save time and money during a chaotic holiday season because you don’t have to pick out gifts for every single person. Although it might sound similar, don’t get it confused with Secret Santa, where you choose gifts specifically for one particular recipient. White Elephant isn’t your average gift exchange, but if you’re looking to add some zest to your holiday get-together, it’s the perfect solution.
How a White Elephant Gift Exchange Works
In a White Elephant gift exchange, each person places one wrapped gift in the center of the room. To keep things fair, the organizer will often set a price limit, or you could choose a theme for the gifts to make it extra fun. Then, have everyone draw a number to determine the order they will go in. The game starts when the first person chooses a gift from the pile and opens it. As the game progresses, players can either choose a gift from the center of the room or steal a gift from someone who has already opened one. Anyone who gets their gift stolen has the opportunity to steal from someone else or pick a brand-new gift. Sounds fun, right?
With any White Elephant gift exchange, the trickiest part is choosing a gift that could work for anyone in the room. If you’re struggling to find that crowd-pleasing gift everyone will want to steal, keep reading for the best assortment of White Elephant gifts—all of which won’t cost you more than $25.
The Best White Elephant Gifts Under $25
This is one game you’ll want to break out as soon as your gift exchange is over. Great for a group of family or friends that know each other well, it entails voting on superlatives like “who’s most likely to get a ticket for driving too slow” or “who would win a hot dog eating contest.” It’s a staple for any board game collection.
This cute, compact waffle maker makes a fun gift that’ll fit in anyone’s kitchen. With a 4-inch-wide nonstick cooking surface, it’s perfect for single-serving portions.
This sticky ball is designed to roll around inside your bags, picking up dust, dirt, and crumbs. It’s small, practical, and reusable, making it a great gift for even the pickiest White Elephant participants.
Single-use microwave popcorn bags are a thing of the past thanks to this silicone popper bowl. It pops up to 4 cups of fluffy popcorn with no oil needed, then collapses flat for easy storage.
Cozy socks are something everyone can appreciate, and these are some of the softest socks out there. The one-size-fits-all design works for shoe sizes 5-9, so you’re covered no matter who opens them.
Say goodbye to that clunky corkscrew. This electric wine opener uncorks bottles in seconds with the simple push of a button. It can open up to 30 bottles in a single charge and comes with a foil cutter for easily removing seals.
Once you try a candle warmer lamp, you’ll never go back to lighting candles the old-fashioned way. The warmth from the lightbulb gently melts the wax, safely releasing the fragrance without an open flame and making candles last way longer. This one has dimming capabilities and timer settings for extra convenience.
Just add hot milk to turn these festive star-shaped bombs into a decadent cup of hot chocolate. The pack of three includes rich dark chocolate, creamy salted caramel, and classic sugar cookie flavors, so there’s something for everyone.
Snapping photos on your phone just isn’t the same as having them printed out in front of you. This one-time-use camera comes pre-loaded with color film so you can easily capture memories in the moment and keep them forever.
Just add liquor to whip up a top-shelf cocktail right at home. This kit includes all the tools and ingredients you need to mix up two classic old-fashioned cocktails. Cheers!
This tiny vacuum cleaner is the desk essential they didn’t know they needed. It’s compact, easy-to-use, and perfect for those hard-to-reach messes around your workspace.
Anyone who commutes or travels often will be fighting over this organizing case. With multiple zippered compartments and tons of interior mesh pockets, it can fit all the cords, cables, and other tech accessories you could possibly need on the go.
File this under problem-solving products you didn’t know existed. The next time you need to use half a fruit or vegetable and stash the rest in the fridge, grab one of these reusable silicone sleeves. They stretch over the cut side to create an airtight seal that helps prevent browning and keeps food fresher longer.
Coffee mugs don’t get cuter than this. As you sip, a tiny cat figurine slowly pokes its head above the surface for a fun surprise in your morning cup. Pair this with a bag of coffee beans for a perfectly steal-worthy gift.
Anyone who likes to read at night will appreciate this wearable reading light. It slips around your neck to provide hands-free lighting at the perfect angle for reading in bed, on planes, and beyond.
This all-in-one sushi-making kit basically counts as an experience gift. It comes with everything you need to roll your own sushi at home, including a sushi knife, bamboo rolling mats, a rice paddle and spreader, an avocado slicer, and even a sushi bazooka that helps you push out the perfect roll.
Solve the great “what should I make for dinner?” debate with this cookbook. It features 100 easy and delicious recipes, all of which require no more than 15 minutes of meal prep—perfect for nights when you just can’t be bothered to cook.
Although it looks and smells exactly like the real thing, this cereal bowl-shaped candle is for lighting, not eating. It’s the kind of thing that will make your friends do a double-take when they spot it on your shelf.
A rechargeable lighter is one of those handy gadgets you won’t want to live without once you’ve tried one. It’s fueled by electricity instead of chemicals, so it never runs out, there’s no smell, and it even works in windy conditions.
This handy screen cleaner is perfect for anyone who’s glued to their phone. About the size of a tube of lipstick, it features a microfiber exterior with spray cleaner housed inside, so you can easily spray and wipe any screen clean.
Featuring 50 holiday-inspired cocktail recipes, this card deck is all the inspiration they need for a festive at-home happy hour. The pretty packaging will have everyone fighting over it for their own bar cart.
This is one of those White Elephant gifts that might sound silly, but it actually has a practical real-life purpose. With holes to portion out from one to four servings of spaghetti, this kitchen tool ensures you’ll always make the perfect amount of pasta.
With its miniature size and vintage radio-inspired design, this might just be the cutest Bluetooth speaker we’ve ever seen. It can fit in the palm of your hand, which makes it easily portable, and lasts for up to six hours of playtime on a single charge.
This puzzle set includes seven different designs, all featuring colorful gradients that are oh-so-calming to look at. Made up of 70 pieces each, these mini puzzles are perfect for a quick brain break and easy enough for non-puzzle-enthusiasts to enjoy, too.
Anyone who travels frequently or has trouble sleeping will want to snatch this gift up right away. Featuring built-in Bluetooth capabilities, this sleep mask makes it easy to block out both light and sound while listening to your favorite tunes or white noise. Plus, the comfortable design is way more conducive to sleeping than headphones.
This mug warmer from Amazon will keep your coffee at the perfect temperature all day long. The universal design works with most types of mugs, and the one-touch button makes it super easy to use.
For those around the White Elephant circle who prefer a cold beer to a hot coffee, this YETI can cooler will be a highly sought-after gift. The double-wall insulation keeps your drink super-cold while keeping your hands dry, and it fits most 12-ounce cans and bottles.