I was invited to a girls’ dinner last December and was told to bring a $20 White Elephant Gift. This was a small dinner of about 6 women, where I knew only the host. After eating, women, one by one, picked wrapped gifts from the center of the table and unwrapped them. There were earrings. Not crappy. There was stationery. Not crappy. At my turn, I got a bottle of Prosecco and a wine carrying bag. Also not crappy AND more than $20. At this point I started cringing, knowing my offering was going to be chosen next: it was the last one, painstakingly “wrapped” in a once-too-regifted gift bag with reused tissue paper. Thankfully, the most irreverent woman of the bunch, as it turns out, was the recipient of my Made in Japan “Black Man Thong Underwear” and thought it was funny. But it made me ask the group what they thought a White Elephant gift was. All of them said it was just something inexpensive.
WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
Bring a “$20 or less gift” is NOT the same as bring an “under $20 White Elephant gift.” By saying White Elephant, you are saying it is supposed to be funny, racy, weird or otherwise interesting.
What goes into a regular gift exchange? Something you may not want that you thing someone else might value. (Fact: odds are that if you don’t value it, no one else will either.)
What goes into a White Elephant exchange? Something you may not want that you think everyone will laugh at. Different, right? And regifts are totally acceptable at a White Elephant party, as long as they are funny. Not so much in a normal exchange.
To really White Elephant well, you need to prepare. You need to always be aware of where the weird and funny might be lurking: a thrift store, your aunt’s garage, the dumpster behind that new marketing agency. The giver of the bottle of Prosecco bought her gift at the supermarket on her way to the dinner or already had it at her house. I went to f’ing TOKYO (in September), hit the DonKi store at 3 am because of jet lag and was delirious enough to purchase the weirdest stuff I could find. For under $20.
I’m not saying I’m better than her. And I'm also not saying I didn't drink the Prosecco. I’m just saying I know what White Elephant is and I'm bummed I wasted my Black Man Thong at a not-so-White-Elephant party.
*Pass this article along for your next White Elephant party so you don't have to experience the same disappointment. And check out our NEW White Elephant Collection so you can have the funniest gift at your exchange.
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