Selecting a funny item for a white elephant gift exchange can sometimes prove a little tricky as the original concept has changed and evolved somewhat over the years. Originally white elephant gifts were totally useless items, normally taken from around the house but more often now people will go out and buy something. Usually, white elephant gift exchanges will still be about gifts that are tacky, tasteless and cheap but not always so you will need to ascertain which category yours falls into before making a selection.
If your white elephant gift exchange is work related then previous years will give you an idea of the theme they will take. If you are new then just ask a work colleague for some guidance.
For the ideas suggested here it is assumed that the gift exchange will be of the tasteless and tacky variety.
Funny White Elephant Gift Ideas
1.) Bargain basement CDs – every music store has them, the CDs that no-one wants and that come down and down in price until they are virtually giving them away. I won’t name any artists here for fear of offending some-one but you won’t be short of ideas. Try and pick something that has a really cheesy sleeve to make the gift even funnier.
2.) The ‘what is it?’ gift – you may have something lying around your house that fits the bill or you may need to trawl the second-hand stores where you will be sure to find something along these lines. I have even been in a second-hand store with a ‘what is it?’ section which offered to give the item to anyone who could successfully describe or name what it was.
3.) The garish tie – you may well have this lying around too, stuffed into the back of a closet and not having seen the light of day since the 70s or 80s – quite possibly originally a gift from an aunt or other relative who had no idea of taste.
4.) Wig, fake ears, fake beard etc – a great place to find something along these lines is a fancy dress store and you may well get some more ideas just by having a browse. You can almost guarantee that if a wig turns up at a white elephant gift exchange then everyone in the room will have tried it on and played the fool before the night is over.
5.) Ugly dolls and figurines – you may have to search a bit for this one but thrift stores are often a good starting point. It needs to be something that really makes people go ‘yuck’ or is alarming or unsettling in some way.
6.) Flashing, dancing, playing a tune
This type of gift is easy to find around Christmas time and again, thrift stores often have a great selection. These gifts fall into the tasteless and tacky camp with very little imagination. Santas which light up and dance, singing flowers, flashing wine glasses – you will probably find you have too many to choose from rather than a shortage of choice.
7.) Fancy dress masks – this is another idea along the lines of the wig. Masks saved from Halloween are a good starting point or fancy dress stores. Masks can be scary, ever so slightly unsettling (which is often worse than downright scary) or of a famous figure.
8.) Kitsch or tacky clothing – a trawl of the second-hand stores will throw up some true clothing horrors. From hand knitted jumpers with puppies on to sequinned trousers, looking for a gift in this category can be great fun.
9.) Beer drinking helmet – this is a hard hat with a complicated straw system attached sold by many on-line stores or high street stores selling ‘novelty’ gifts. It’s a wacky and useless enough idea to fall into the white elephant gift exchange parameters.
Trawling second hand stores, thrift stores or typing ‘novelty gifts’ into an online search engine will normally throw up enough ideas to give you plenty of choice for funny white elephant gifts.
It is probably best to completely avoid gifts which fall into the vulgar or offensive categories unless you are really sure of your audience. Work exchanges in particular will have a wide range of ages and different personalities involved; remember – the idea of a white elephant gift exchange is supposed to be fun and not to offend or upset.