How To Win At Life — Or At Least At The Office Gift Exchange: 30 Under $30

How To Win At Life — Or At Least At The Office Gift Exchange: 30 Under $30
White Elephant, Yankee Swap, Thieving Elves, Dirty Santa...whatever your workplace calls it, here’s how to crush it.

In just a few short weeks, people will gather in boardrooms and break rooms across the country for one of the most anticipated (and most dreaded) events of the holiday season: the company gift exchange. Maybe your team doesn’t do this, or maybe you’ve gone the sensible route and all agreed to get each other Starbucks gift cards.

But if your place of employment routinely engages in what one of my favorite co-workers likes to refer to as “mandatory fun,” you probably need an affordable, humorous, and unique (and possibly uniquely terrible) gift to bring to the swap. We’re here to help.

White Elephant Gift Swap Rules

First of all, what kind of mandatory holiday fun is your group planning? While the official White Elephant Rules site really spells things out, here’s the gist:

All participants bring a wrapped gift, usually in a predetermined price range. The gifts are placed in a pile/central location, and everyone draws a number. The person who drew No. 1 selects a present to unwrap. No. 2 can either unwrap a different gift or “steal” the first person’s selection. And so on down the line. Anyone whose gift was stolen gets the chance to steal a gift, until everyone has a present. See how it plays out in The Office’s high-stakes Yankee Swap.

So what exactly differentiates the various types of swaps? Most of it is regional. If you live in the northeast, you’ll probably do a White Elephant or Yankee Swap (understandably), while Dirty Santa is more popular in the south.

What you call your swap also helps define the type of present you’re expected to bring. White Elephant exchanges usually focus on absurd and/or useless gag gifts, but some groups aim for bizarre but still enjoyable presents (with a reasonable price limit, of course). The name of the exchange matters less than having a good time, so set some basic ground rules with your group…and don’t forget your gift!

The best White Elephant gifts are one of three types:

  1. Things people want because they're funny
  2. Things people want because they're desirable
  3. Things people don't want because they're funny

We’ve rounded up 30 unconventional (yet functional and affordable) options for the people you spend at least 40 hours a week with.

bob ross chill board game

Bob Ross: The Art of Chill Board Game – $17.89

death wish coffee white elephant

Death Wish High Caffeine Ground Coffee, 16 oz. – $19.96

beatles abbey road album white elephant

The Beatles Abbey Road Album, vinyl – $20.12

survived another meeting mug white elephant

I Survived Another Meeting That Should Have Been An Email mug, Pack of 2 – $14.99

modern mixology bartender kit white elephant

Modern Mixology Bartender Kit with Stand – $29.97

groot chia white elephant

I am Groot Chia Pet, $19.99

farting animals coloring book white elephant

The Farting Animals Coloring Book – $5.99 (be a mensch and include a pack of colored pencils)

laptop bag

15″ Laptop Sleeve, $15

decision maker paperweight white elephantDecision Maker Paperweight – $21.97

snoop dog cookbook

From Crook to Cook: Snoop Dogg Cookbook – $14.97

poo pourri set white elephant

Master Crapsman Poo-Pourri Gift Set – $20.95

RAV power portable charger white elephant

RAVPower Ultra Slim Power Bank – $19.99

jack black hand healer white elephant

JACK BLACK Industrial Strength Hand Healer – $15.00

french sea salt trio sampler white elephant

The French Sea Salt Mini Trio Sample Set – $15.99

b land cell phone holder white elephant

Universal Mobile Phone Stand – $18.99

yeti insulated mug white elephant

Yeti Stainless Steel Insulated Mug, 14 oz. – $24.99

animal bites cable protectors white elephant

Cable Buddies Cable Protectors, Pack of 6 – $8.79

aroma housewares rice cooker white elephant

Aroma Housewares Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer – $29.92

innogear diffuser white elephant

Aromatherapy Diffuser with 6 Bottles of 100% Pure Essential Oils – $29.99

salt fat acid heat white elephant

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, hardcover – $20.99

What’s the best (or worst) gift exchange gift you’ve ever been stuck with? Let us know in the comments!

Need more gift ideas for friends and family?

Ali grew up in New York and currently lives in Philadelphia, where she works as a copywriter. She enjoys cooking, playing the guitar, and powerlifting, and has a brown belt in Krav Maga. You can find her collected articles on health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics at Instagram: @alibzagat