This White Elephant Gift Exchange was sent to me by "MASON" from my Santa Bulletin Board

John H writes to say:

Traditionally, a "White Elephant" is something lying around the house that you don't want (some horridly ugly item that someone gave you as a gift or some other item unwanted for some reason). I am of the belief that in most parts of the country, if you tell someone to bring a White Elephant gift it will almost certainly be a gag gift and not something genuinely useful or desirable.

The type of gift exchange that you have described, I have always heard referred to as a "Yankee Swap".


1. This party's gift theme is XYZ.
2. The gift should be valued as close to $xx.00 as is reasonable.
3. The gift should be something someone would actually want or use. It should be in new or good condition.
4. The gift should be wrapped or in an envelope before arriving to the party. Gift bags are OK only if a wrapped item is inside.
5. Gift certificates are OK only if it is accompanied by some other item as part of the gift. For instance, a $xx Starbucks gift certificate, by itself, is not OK, but a $yy Starbucks gift certificate together with a coffee mug is OK.
6. As guests arrive to the party, the gifts should be placed in an area where few people can see who brought which gift. All efforts should be made to hide who brought which gift.


1. Each guest who wishes to participate must contribute a gift. Everyone sits or stands in roughly a circle around the pile of gifts.
2. Prepare slips of paper equal to the number of gifts with clearly written numbers. Be sure to distinguish 6 from 9, 1 from 7. Each participating guest draws a number and holds onto that slip of paper.
3. On the first turn, the guest with paper slip #1 chooses a gift, opens it, and all admire it.
4. On the second turn, the guest with paper slip #2 gets the choice of "stealing" any unwrapped gift (#1's) or choosing a wrapped one. If #2 steals #1's gift, then #1 must open a wrapped gift.
5. On the third turn, the guest with paper slip #3 gets the choice of "stealing" any unwrapped gift (#1's or #2's) or choosing a wrapped one.

The game continues based on the following:

1. If a gift is stolen from you, you can steal a gift (within limits, described below), or open a wrapped one.
2. The turn proceeds until a wrapped gift is chosen.
3. A gift cannot be immediately stolen back from the guest who just stole it.
4. The fourth "owner" of a gift gets to keep it. The gift is "dead" after it has been stolen three times.
5. "Owners" of "live" gifts must keep them visible and hold them up when requested.
6. The gift exchange ends when the last wrapped gift is opened. Usually, guests are encouraged to perpetuate the gift stealing as long as there are "live" gifts, but no one is obligated to do this.

Have a Happy Holiday season!

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