Written By
Published Dec. 20, 2021

Holiday party season is in full swing. I know this because I went to the liquor store trying to buy some nice bourbon and could only walk out with a handle of Kentucky Gentleman. Don’t be like me. Whether you’re back mixing and mingling with coworkers or stockpiling last-minute goodies for a family and friends get-together, plan ahead—and we can help! If you’re attending or organizing some last-minute fun, you don’t need liquor in bulk. A Yankee swap, aka White Elephant, gift exchange is a great way to manufacture some mirth at an office party or relatives round-up. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite White Elephant gifts (which, conveniently, also make for great one-last-thing selections to put under the tree).

From the niche and novel to the impractical and inappropriate to the surprisingly sensible, a White Elephant gift exchange is the best party game where you might walk away with a party game. Or an oddly useful accessory. Or a kitschy knick-knack—something “As Seen On TV” (or “As Seen On TikTok,” more likely). The White Elephant rules are relatively simple. You pick from a pool of random wrapped gifts but then, once you’ve revealed your gift, have the opportunity to “steal” (aka, exchange for) someone else’s gift. And the next round you can just as easily have the gift you’re holding “stolen.” It’s chaos and strategy … and a lot more fun if everyone doesn’t just bring coffee gift cards (not that we couldn’t live on coffee gift cards). So—whether you’re looking for the best gifts under $50, the best gifts under $25, you’re exchanging with executives, or you just want to be remembered for bringing the best funny White Elephant gifts—we’ve put together these great White Elephant gifts so you can “win” the game where you always know that you never know what to expect. (Prices are accurate as of the time of posting.)

Burritos Tortilla Blanket

mermaker

Check Price

Price: $30.99

When it’s cold outside, turn to the blanket that’s less brrrrrr and more burrito. The mermaker Burritos Tortilla Blanket 2.0 double-sided 71-inch blanket is non-fading, lint-free, ultra-soft 285 grams-per-square flannel with a delicious design on each side. It’s great for sofas, beds, traveling—anywhere you know someone gathering the ingredients for comfort. (There are also pepperoni pizza, waffle, and chocolate cookie options, if that’s more where your appetite for gifts is.) So, if you’re looking for a great gift, grab this and, well, wrap up your shopping.

3D Skull Ice Mold Trays

CHIYAN

Check Price

Price: $13.99

If you know someone having a hard time wrapping your head around the perfect way to spice up their bar, one simple solution is to wrap drinks around a skull. Grab one (or more) of these 100-percent BPA-free, non-toxic, food-grade, dishwasher-safe silicone molds, each of which makes six 6.5-inch by 5.4-inch by 2.3-inch skulls at one time. Know someone feeling crafty? The mold can also be used to make everything from chocolate to soap. These ice cubes will be a great party starter, no bones about it.

JBL Go 3 Bluetooth speaker

Price: $49.95

If you’re looking to gift someone big sound from a little speaker, the JBL Go 3 is your go-to. An ultraportable, less than 8-ounce block with surprisingly potent bass, the battery-powered Go 3 packs 5 hours of playback so its owner can stay motivated in the gym, on the trail, on a bike, or wherever else they need a soundtrack to fuel success. In the pool? Sure! The desert, too. The Go 3’s IP67 rating means it’s waterproof and dustproof.

Sunset Projection Lamp

Price: $35.98

Your cubicle neighbor is talking about it constantly: the tropical vacation, the palm trees, the sugar-infused rum drinks served in coconuts with little umbrellas in them. Next-door Nick/Nicole wants the sand in their toes and the sun on their skin. Nobody is suggesting you gift airfare to Hawaii but if you can’t send your coworker to paradise, bring paradise to them. This sunset lamp, which can rotate 180 degrees, is the perfect ambiance for a living room or bedroom. As a bonus, if your coworker is constantly posting selfies on Instagram, the RGB LED lamp—with its 16 colors, IR remote control, and flash/strobe/fade/smooth effects—adds a bit of variety and flavor to their Friday-night-at-home-with-the-cat fashion shoots. Don’t let the sun go down on your officemate unless it’s by choice. 

Anker PowerCore Slim 10K Battery Pack

Price: $22.99

Devices are our vices. We love how they can accompany us on the go, but they occasionally make us pause for a plug. Our phones, tablets, headphones, pocket Wi-Fi transmitters, and Nintendo Switches demand voltage and we want to provide them with what they need. Portable power blocks make changing the sheen on that battery icon from red to green a snap without slowing you down. One of the slimmest 10,000mAh packs on the market—perfect for gamers, tech-heads, joggers, travelers, or honestly any variety of coworker— This power block is a necessity you never knew you needed and is even useful in multiples. Using PowerIQ and VoltageBoost technology to maintain the health of your devices’ batteries, it can provide 2.25 charges for an iPhone 12 or 1.6 charges for a Galaxy S20, for example. Nobody is excited to get a power block but nobody is disappointed to have this simple black brick when they need it. Whether I’m shopping for friends, coworkers, or loved ones, a power brick is always one of the first White Elephant gifts on my list.

Nodpod Sleep Mask

Price: $34.00

You spend all day under pressure, so when you get home at night you’d think the last thing you’d want is more pressure. Well, if you’re Queen featuring David Bowie or looking for an amazing night’s sleep, you’d be wrong. The nodpod sells itself as a “weighted blanket for your eyes” and the gentle pressure it applies, plus the 100-percent blackout design, really does lead to better sleep—something I know from experience. You can even throw it in the freezer if you need to cool down after exercise, or to soothe a migraine, or to try and take your mind off of all the TPS reports you have due. And when you give a coworker this “hug for your head” they won’t even get HR involved.

Stylophone Retro Pocket Synth

Price: $34.95

If “oddly endearing” is how you’re described around the office, you won’t find a more apropos white elephant gift to give than this pocket-sized synthesizer. First released in 1967 and perhaps most famously featured on David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Dubreq’s Stylophone sounds like an 8-bit video game blaring out of the punctured speaker of an old ice cream van—and I say these things with love. It’s a lot of fun to listen to the oscillating tones as you slide the stylus up and down the metal keyboard, and a headphone jack means someone can even indulge some lo-fi love at work without disturbing a cubicle mate. Just remember to wrap three AAA batteries with this retro-futuristic icon to ensure the analog anarchy can begin immediately. 

Felt Letter Board

Price: $22.70

Ever look at a church or fast food sign board and just feel so jealous? Why do they get to share their witticisms about deadly sins or daily combos and you have no such platform!? Well, now you’re in luck. From famous quotes to limericks that might require a visit from HR, you can broadcast it all the old-fashioned way, right from the comfort of your cubicle. With a 10×10 inch space, this felt board has room for opinions cliché to controversial. The 374 pre-cut letters feature rustic style and a bold font and you even get nine bonus cursive words for extra flair, plus extra clips to hold photos or notes. With this set, your coworker can make every day a red letter—er, white letter—day.

Skullcandy Dime

Price: $21.99

We like the Skullcandy Dime. We think that if you’re going to spend less than $25 and don’t want to sacrifice convenient features (like 12 hours of total battery life, IPX4 sweat/water resistance, and an isolating fit), it’s one of the best cheap earbuds out there. We think that, if we opened a pair of true wireless earbuds at an office party, we’d be excited. We think that if we could go to the office on Monday with a new way to drown out all the distractions (or to take calls, even during solo ’bud use), we’d be a little kinder this Christmas season. I mean, seriously, we can’t sit through Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” one. more. time. Now “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” by the Darkness, that’s our kind of carol. 

Sushi Go Party! Deluxe Pick & Pack Card Game

Price: $21.95

Take your game nights from in a rut to on a roll with Sushi Go! Fun, colorful, and extremely easy to learn to play, the expanded version will have you noshin’ on nigiri and makin’ maki. While the borders to Japan are still closed to tourists, you can live out all your dreams of slammin’ salmon and tubular tuna. Draft your ingredients, score points, and enjoy. 8 players can enjoy the game, so even if your least-social colleague ends up with it, there’s no excuse not to invite over the whole division. This deluxe edition has the whole sushebang: 181 cards, 21 menu tiles, 8 wooden player pawns, and a game board, decked out in adorable art. Why simply “go fish” when you can make it?

Eargasm High-Fidelity Earplugs

Price: $25.75

Now ’ear this: You only get one shot at protecting your hearing. For some, it might be too late (I’m looking at you, young me). But for everyone else, a world itching to get back out and experience live music after a couple of long years in quarantine, it’s the second-smartest thing you can do (after getting vaccinated) if you plan to attend concerts. And believe me when I tell you that reusable earplugs like these are way way better than the cheap foam you pick up at CVS (or hope to get for free at the venue). Pop these soft silicone earplugs out of their handy aluminum keyring case and their attenuation filter reduces up to 21 dB evenly across the spectrum, maintaining dynamics but negating dangerous volume. Jeff from accounting will thank you when there’s no ringing in the ears taking away from the Monday metrics meeting. The best White Elephant gifts can serve a greater purpose.

Hamilton Beach Dual Breakfast Sandwich Maker

Price: $39.99

Wake up and greet the day. Open those blinds and soak in that sun. Brush those teeth and fix that hair. And now time for a nutritious hot breakfast—except all that prep means you’re already behind schedule for your commute. It happens to us all, right? We plan to eat something nourishing and hearty to kickstart the day but end up settling for a passion fruit Greek yogurt and a protein bar, or maybe even a grease-bomb from the drive-through. Free your friend from such morning tyranny with this quick sandwich maker. Just load up a bagel or muffin, precooked meat and cheese, and—in another compartment—a raw egg and the other half of the bread, and wait a scant five minutes. Your hot sandwich is ready and waiting to power you through the morning and you can even make two at a time in case you want one for the road. It even comes with a recipe book. No more excuses, only flavor.

PhoneSoap Basic UV Smartphone Sanitizer

Price: $37.45 ($49.95 – Amazon 25-percent-off coupon)

Look at yourself. Look at your hands. Your nails. Your cuticles. Admit it: you’re filthy. But so am I. The day just accumulates on us all as we work. A bit of dirt here, a bit of grease there. Before you know it, we’re feeling grody and need some hand sanitizer. But how to sanitize what your dirty hands have already dirtied? How to get the gross off your constant companion, the thing you touch more than anything else: your phone? The answer is UV light. Featuring two UV bulbs, this sanitizer promises to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria by zapping them with the power of ultraviolence—er, ultraviolet light. The process takes about 10 minutes and the PhoneSoap pod fits all major phone brands and sizes. It even has a method of letting sound pass through so that you don’t miss any important calls or texts. And while designed for phones, it can sanitize anything that can be put inside it, including pacifiers, watches, headphones, or keys. Anything your grubby little hands can get grubby, ungrubbify.

Yogasleep Rohm Portable White Noise Machine

Price: $29.95 

Sometimes it’s quiet … too quiet. For many of us, myself included, nothing puts us on edge more than nothing putting us on edge. The gentle hum of a fan, air conditioner, or refrigerator is the best lullaby. But why try to cuddle up near a major appliance when there’s carefully designed, calibrated, and convenient white noise ready to gently send your most sleep-deprived comrade off into the arms of Morpheus? With three soothing sounds—bright white noise, deep white noise, and gentle surf—packed inside a tiny 3.5-inch, 3.8-ounce package, this white noise machine is powerful enough for weekend wind-downs and portable enough for corporate retreats. Thanks to an internal USB-chargeable battery, the Yogasleep is perfect for whichever officemate has the most bloodshot eyes and most pronounced sunken cheeks. Give the gift we all wish we could give ourselves: rest.

URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser

Price: $19.99

Smells can be hell, even for the cleanest among us. Let’s do all our 95-percent-perfect friends a favor and give them—and ourselves—that fresh-from-the-spa feeling with sweet and soothing essential oils. A 100ml of oil and water mixture can provide six hours of intermittent mist or three hours of continuous clouds. You can include six bottles of oil for only $9.99 more. Not just great for the nostrils, but also for the blood pressure, the warm waft calms the nerves and the mist massages the mucus membranes. Give it to them, but also give it for you.

Pooping Pooches Calendar

Price: $16.99

This white elephant gift is not crappy, this gift is the $#!+. Your office assuredly has a dog lover. Maybe gently remind that proud pooch parent what dogs really are: cute, loveable poop machines. Feature 12 months of beautiful vistas with a different cuddly canine popping a squat mid-frame, this calendar not only will get a couple of chuckles but it’ll help those same dung-developing doggies with $1 from every sale going to charities that help dogs in need. Measuring 17 inches by 11 inches, it’s perfect for placing on a cubicle wall or even in the office bathroom. And don’t worry, only our image is censored, not the actual product. Answer nature’s call, 365 days in a row.

MILKBOSS Electric Handheld Milk Frother

Price: $19.99

Coffee is serious business, no beans about it. The perfect cup needs the perfect blend, the perfect roast, the perfect pour, and the perfect spot of frothed, creamy milk. With a little love and care, the communal coffee pot at the office can become a cool Euro café just by upping the froth game. Your gift recipient will become your own personal corporate barista, complete with mishearing and misspelling your name on inter-office memos. This frother not only can whip milk to a perfect consistency in seconds, but it can also always mix powders—coffee, cocoa, or matcha tea—with far better results than hand whisks or cutlery. Easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to store, it’s good to be the Milk Boss (even if you’re not the office boss).

Kasa Wi-Fi LED Strip

Price: $24.99

The future is now. We live in a world where we can talk to devices to turn on other devices, track our steps with a watch, and adjust the color of our lights with an app on our phone. That last one is easier than ever with this 16-plus-foot strip of lights perfect for adding customizable accents of color around the home or office. Compatible with Alexa, Google Nest, or SmartThings, this LED strip can liven up a living room, cool down a computer hutch, or bedazzle a bedroom. If your coworker needs a bit of pizzazz in their workspace, the LED strip is easy to set up, dimmable, and programmable, with animated lighting effects built-in. Add a bit of cyberpunk color to someone’s life.

Clear Milk Carton Water Bottle

Price: $7.85

Know folks who love social media and being hydrated? With this whimsical water bottle, they can swelter in the sun as they stage and restage a shot until it looks effortless, all while sipping a refreshing beverage that looks great on camera. This clear, leakproof, carton-shaped container—made out of non-toxic, BPA-free material that’s fun to draw on—holds 500mL of colorful liquid that can be shown off as you or someone you know, well, milks that moment in the sun, making it one of the best White Elephant gifts.

Dash Mini Maker Griddle

Price: $9.99

Being single can be a drag when the world is built for twos and fours. Most home cooking appliances use a ton of power and have way more surface or cooking space than you need. But there’s nothing wrong with flying solo, so low-stress cooking solutions that fit the needs of the just-one crowd are a must. For pancakes, cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches, or eggs, this mini-griddle is perfect for the one who needs only one. Weighing less than a pound and featuring a 31-inch cord, and coupled with a recipe book, it fits on any counter and heats up in minutes. For the foodie who’s not cooking for two-die, the Dash Mini Maker is a hot gift. It’s also famous on Tik Tok.

Christmas Light USB Charging Cable

Price: $9.99

Imagine you’re at a Christmas party and you’ve been making eyes with someone. They strut over to you, make meaningful eye contact, and slowly and intentionally … ask if you have an iPhone charger. Well, it never hurts to hold onto one, and a festive one to boot! Add a little Christmas cheer to your Christmas charge with the Christmas Light USB Charging Cable. Lightning cable-compatible with a USB 2.0 connector, the Christmas Light USB Charging Cable takes about 3 hours to fully charge an iPhone. The 10 festive holiday lights twinkle as power courses from source to device. Silly and holiday-specific, it’s honestly the perfect White Elephant gift: just useful enough and just weird enough to be utterly memorable.

Ecolution Original Microwave Micro-Pop Popcorn Popper

Price: $8.99

Movie maestros, snack savants, and carnival connoisseurs all know: popcorn is the perfect pick-me-up. Once you pop, you can’t stop. If you want your white elephant recipient to not be able to stop thanking you, get them this microwave popper. Your corn gets nestled into a little pot and pops without oil, so you won’t be giving the gift of greasy fingers, just in case the gift-getter is on a health kick. The lid features a measurement bowl for your raw kernels, and the bowl produces 1.5 quarts of perfectly popped pieces in less than 3 minutes. After popping, you can even melt some butter over the top using the same lid and the heat produced from the popping process. Ideal for solo Netflix viewing or snuggling up during cuffing season, this is the one corny holiday gift anyone would love to get.

Pinch Provisions Hangover Kit

Price: $9.99

The life of the party is often the picture of regret the next morning, paying the price for the fun they’ve provided. But they have a friend who understands, and they’ll praise your name as party pro extraordinaire when you produce the Punch Provisions Hangover Kit: conveniently sized to reside in a desk drawer, glove compartment, purse, or pocket. Six simple items—an eye mask, facial wipe, breath strip, earplugs, pain reliever, and electrolyte tablet—packed in a portable pouch soothe the morning-after beast, dulling those brutal beats, wrathful rays, and pounding pulses. There are eight different colors to choose from for packaging, so why not give a pair?

Backyard League Gaming Baseball

Price: $89.00

If you want one of the top White Elephant gifts to inspire some team building, this Bluetooth-connected baseball is something you can give to inspire the office to go outside for a friendly competition. Paired with a mobile app (iOS or Android), the advanced sensors in the Backyard League Baseball have a 70-yard range and let you play single and multiplayer games, create leagues, and invite coworkers, friends, and family to take part in all kinds of fun challenges—no subscription required. The 5-ounce, 9-inch baseball (with a weight-adjustable core) feels like an official issue and tracks your actions for all kinds of skill- and bond-building opportunities.

Soundcore Tour Frames by Anker

Price: $199.99

Looking for a C-sweet gift for an audio-loving executive? If you need White Elephant gifts that will have you, and the recipient, looking good, let me suggest these customizable audio smart glasses. Four speakers, a Bluetooth 5.2 receiver, and a custom audio processor are embedded in the lightweight IPX4-rated arms, delivering up to 5.5 hours of “opensurround” personal listening experience without blocking out the world. And they’re not just for listening to music; you can take conference calls without the hassle of fishing out a phone. Worried that the shape of the polarized, scratch- and shatter-resistant lenses won’t suit the suits? Well, the front frame is detachable so you can mix and match styles.

MORE TO READ