Fun “White Elephant” Gift Exchange Games

We played one of these games at a dinner several weeks ago and it was so much fun.  It wasn’t your typical White Elephant-open-in-number-order-and-steal game.  It had lots of twists and  unknowns.  I was telling my mom about it and she wanted to use it with her Sunday School class party, so we looked it up online.  In the process we found several other fun sounding games, so I thought I’d pass them along on the blog just for fun.

I also found a very interesting explanation of WHY we call these silly gift exchanges “White Elephant” gifts.  I guess I never really wondered about that until now.  Here’s what the (a great blog, btw) had to say about the origin of the “White Elephant” gift:

In Thailand and other Asian countries, the white elephant was considered a holy being. But, the upkeep of this animal was outrageous to say the least. They needed special food, holy housing, and all sorts of special treatment. So much in fact, that usually only a king could afford a white elephant. The death of a white elephant spelled DISASTER  so these animals were pretty pampered pets. The origin of our white elephant gift began when ancient kings became EXTREMELY DISPLEASED with their assistant. They would make a gift of the white elephant to the assistant. At first, this appeared to be a great honor. But soon, the assistant would become crippled by the financial burden of the white elephant. Hence, when we give silly, ELABORATE gifts of little value, we call them WHITE ELEPHANT GIFTS. :-)
Source: (they even have a whole party idea at this link, with free printable invitations and everything!)

Back to the fun game that we played.  It’s great for large groups, but can be adapted to small ones, as well. This is the link to the White Elephant game  with tons of twists and turns in it.  I can’t wait to play this again!

This is another fun gift exchange game:  The Left-Right Night Before Christmas Game.    All of those “pass the gift to the left every time the word ‘left’ is used” games are fun, and this one is extra cute.  Even if you didn’t have a gift exchange where everyone brought gifts, but had only a few door prizes, this would be a fun way to give them away.

I quickly scanned Pinterest for DIY White Elephant ideas and have been laughing out loud!  I would have posted them here, but I didn’t want to spoil the surprise… just in case you and I end up at the same White Elephant gathering and I needed to bring one of these clever gifts.  Oh I hope so … they are SO funny!
For a host of other creative Christmas party games, this site is a gold mine!  I checked out every game and now am really in the mood for a party!  :-)


About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two teenagers, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at


  1. I love the Left-Right ones! They are my fav but glad this year I tried the number one! I think everyone enjoyed it. I’ve also used the Christmas story out of the bible using the words “and” and “the” and they had to remember which one was left and right!

    • Connie, that’s a super idea! I didn’t even see this comment until I just posted a Left/Right game using Luke 2. I just added the words Left and Right, but love your idea of using “and” and “the.” Thanks for sharing that!

      Merry CHRISTmas~


  1. […] I was gathering the ideas for this Gift Exchange post, I especially enjoyed the Right/Left game using the poem, ” ‘Twas the Night Before […]

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