Tips for throwing a White Elephant holiday party

white elephant party invitationI’ve been a slacker about the holidays this year, and never got around to planning a christmas party. We usually do a White Elephant Gift Exchange with our friends, and it’s a lot of fun. This year, I think I’m just going to do the party in January, when everyone’s back from the holidays and might actually have a few white elephants they’d like to get rid of! And, conveniently enough, the invitation theme is Winter/Snowflakes, not any holiday per se. Download a printable/emailable version of the invitation graphic from flickr.

If you’ve never done a White Elephant Party, I have a write up on how to throw one, with all the rules that we use.

Basically, it’s a gift exchange party where you steal gifts from other people.
A couple of key points you’ll need to make sure your guests understand:
– Gifts can be bought new or regifted (in the true spirit of a white elephant) – we give a general amount to spend (like between $15 and $20 for example) but a regifted gift can be worth more than that.
– Impress on your guests that they must arrive by a certain time. Start the party at 7:00 but tell everyone they must be there by 8:00, for example.
– Everyone needs to bring a gift (not one per couple).
– For maximum enjoyment, we usually instruct people that gifts “can be funny, but not crappy”. I always suggest that if you’re going to regift a crappy gift, at least throw a bottle of wine in there with it!

A couple of other tips:

  • As host, I usually have an extra gift on hand for that one person who doesn’t show up with one, or if not needed, provide as a consolation prize for the poor person who ends up with the crappiest gift.
  • Decide up front if you’re going to allow collaboration (“you steal from me then I’ll steal from you”) or allow spouses/significant others to steal from each other.

Get all the instructions to throw your own party!.

Get the invitation, a ‘steal sheet’, and numbers on flickr