Look, we’ve all done it. You show up to your family member or friend’s house with a $25 to $50 gift, praying that whoever ends up with it in this year’s White Elephant gift exchange doesn’t hate whatever generic item you bought at the last minute because let’s face it, you completely forgot this thing was even happening.
If you’re tired of doing the same ol’ song and dance with your friends and family year after year, here are some ideas for the same White Elephant exchange (number-drawing, gift-stealing and more) you know and love -- except with themes based around wherever your loved ones’ interests lie.
Beer, wine or liquor
Depending on how your friends like to whet their whistles, you can choose a theme based around their favorite booze of choice. Ask each person to grab a six-pack of their favorite beer, and pass those around. Or their favorite bottle of wine under a certain dollar amount (or above a certain dollar amount, if you’d like to get fancy with it). Or their favorite whiskey. Or tequila. You get the picture. Extra points if you can get through the entire exchange without popping open at least one bottle (you probably can’t).
For the last several years, my girlfriends and I have gotten together at my place to take part in a scarf exchange. Everybody brings a scarf under $25 or so, and everybody goes home with a cute scarf. Everybody wins (except if you get that really cute scarf stolen from you TWICE, which happened to me last year and I’m still upset about it).
Cookies, candy or other baked goods
A good friend of mine has hosted a cookie exchange the last couple of years, and it’s the perfect Christmas party. Each person brings two dozen homemade cookies, and at the end of the party, everybody gets to take home a variety of cookies. This would also work with your favorite holiday candies or even cakes, if you’ve got serious bakers in your circle.
Records or movies
The cool thing about doing a music or movie exchange is that you can set whatever parameters around it you want. Ask your guests to each bring a record they loved growing up, or their all-time favorite movie.
Card games and board games are making a comeback, and there are so many fun ones it’s hard to keep up. Exchange your favorite games, then spend the rest of the evening playing them all.