The Ultimate White Elephant Party Guide

Article by BlissLights LLCFri, Nov 25, 22
The Ultimate White Elephant Party Guide

While the holidays are a time to bond with friends and family, they’re also a great time for some fun, chaotic gift-swapping. That’s especially true when you host a White Elephant party to take your annual holiday party to new heights. Grab some wrapping paper and get ready for your White Elephant party with the below guide.

What is a White Elephant party?

Whether you know it as a White Elephant gift exchange or Dirty Santa, the game is basically the same. Each guest brings a wrapped gift to the holiday party, where all the presents go into a pile. Everyone then draws numbers out of a hat to determine who picks and unwraps a present first.

There are additional rules if your White Elephant party is also a Yankee swap gift exchange. The second player can either select a gift from the pile or steal the gift from the first guest, and so on. This continues until everyone at the party has a unique gift in their hands.

How many people can participate in White Elephant?

To play a Santa gift exchange game such as White Elephant, you’ll want at least four people participating. For the best and most entertaining White Elephant game, gather six or more players, and feel free to keep adding players. The sky’s the limit for this exciting gift exchange theme idea.

present with natural colored wrapping paper and bakers twine

White Elephant gift exchange rules:

The White Elephant rules are simple and easy to get the hang of – find them below.

  • When sending out the invite for the party, give guests guidelines such as a budget to make sure everyone is on the same page. The guests will then bring their wrapped gifts to the party.
  • Choose a location for the gifts so everyone can place theirs into the pile. If everyone sits in a circle, a great place for the presents would be in the middle so that each guest has a clear view.
  • Before starting, pass around a hat or bowl with numbers for guests to draw from randomly. This determines the order of players. Whoever gets “1” will be the first to choose a gift from the pile and unwrap it in front of everyone.
  • The player with “2” is up next and can either open a new gift or, for Yankee swap, steal the unwrapped gift from player one. If a gift is stolen from player one, they must then take a new present from the pile and open it.
  • The third player now has a few choices. They can unwrap a completely new gift or steal a gift from either player one or player two.
  • After a player’s gift is stolen, they have the option to choose a new one or trade with a different player. Gifts can only be stolen three times per Yankee swap.
  • To make the game fair, players can’t steal back the same gift that was stolen from them within a single round.
  • Once everyone has a gift in hand and you’re back to player one, it’s now that person’s chance to swap with anyone in the circle.

coworkers trading christmas presents

10 tips for hosting the ultimate White Elephant party

Give your White Elephant game the glow-up it deserves with these tips.

1. Outline clear rules in advance

Before your guests go shopping for their Christmas gifts, you should clearly outline the party game rules so that there’s no confusion. You can include all this info in your party invitations. This way, guests can read over everything and decide whether they’d like to participate before they RSVP.

The rules should include the budget your guests should stick to as well as the types of gifts allowed. Let everyone know whether funny gifts are encouraged, food is acceptable, and wrapped gifts are expected. This can elevate your party from merely fun to a seamless, gleeful get-together.

2. Decorate for the occasion

If you’re decorating in line with the name of the game, all you need is white decor. White balloons, white streamers, and white Christmas lights are a chic and stylish way to transform your party room into an extraordinary winter wonderland.

At the same time, you should feel free to decorate with the rainbow. After all, the holidays are a cheerful time, and nothing says celebration quite like bright colors.

You can decorate your home in any color with the BlissRadia. With just a few phone screen taps or via voice control, you can add vivid color gradients and soothing lighting hues to set the mood.

blissradia smart ambient mood light in ocean blue
blissradia is an led ambient light with app control that shines in multiple colors

BlissRadia Smart LED Mood Light


From desktop to bedside, light the way to concentration, stimulation, or relaxation.

3. Set a theme for the evening

For an extra layer of fun, choose a creative gift exchange theme to get everyone fully immersed in the gift-giving experience. Your theme could be Christmas movies, songs, colors, or just about anything else. From the wrapped presents and attire to the decorations and food, everything should relate to your theme. You’ll surround your guests with the spirit and magic of Christmas.

4. Keep gifts a secret

The fun of White Elephant comes from not knowing what you’re going to unwrap. Encourage your guests to keep their gifts a secret to make the game more interesting. When the presents are true surprises, stealing and trading gifts can be extra suspenseful and thrilling. Take your game to the next level with oversized packaging and misleading wrapping that creates a mysterious and thrilling gift-giving atmosphere.

5. Get creative with a dress code

Boost the mood and tie the whole party together with a creative dress code. The attire could be based on your chosen theme, or it could stand alone for some extra pizazz. Go with ugly Christmas sweaters, comfy pajamas, or sparkles – there are endless possibilities to create an inspiring Christmas scene.

ugly sweater party

6. Make it a game of Clue

Tell your guests to include hints with their presents to turn your gift exchange into an intriguing game of Clue. Hints in the form of riddles can be vague, misleading, and mysterious, throwing other guests off the scent. You’ll transform an ordinary game into an out-of-this-world holiday adventure.

7. Add some additional entertainment

Keep the fun going even after all the presents are unwrapped with some extra special entertainment. Consider incorporating a game of trivia based on your party’s theme – the winners can pick a small stocking stuffer out of a grab bag. Or play a few rounds of Christmas freeze dance to bring the energy and shift your party’s mood in a snap.

8. Put a dollar limit on gifts

To make your White Elephant party inclusive and budget-friendly, set a dollar limit on gifts. This helps keep all gifts around the same value so that no one feels slighted. A budget can also guide players toward figuring out what types of gifts work well. It’s a simple way to create unity and understanding throughout your White Elephant experience.

9. Acknowledge the master gifter

Sometimes, there’s that one gift that keeps getting stolen because everyone just has to have it. This is considered the ultimate gift, and the person who brought it is the master gifter. Once chosen as the master gifter, that player gets a bonus round where they can steal a gift one final time. This creates a dramatic twist and encourages players to bring something seriously incredible for an awe-inspiring party.

10. Make it an annual tradition

Starting a new holiday tradition gives everyone something unforgettable and exciting to look forward to every winter. To keep it fresh and amusing year after year, you can invite additional friends and family and allow people to regift old White Elephant presents. You can also set up home photoshoot ideas to document the occasion.

A tradition this memorable also deserves the perfect atmosphere. With the Sky Lite Evolve, your White Elephant game will take place under captivating laser stars and dazzling nebula clouds. You can customize and save nebula cloud colors through the BlissHome mobile app and control the Evolve via voice control. You can also rotate the Evolve to reach every corner of your White Elephant party space. You’ll bring the universe right to your festivities year after year.

blisslights evolve galaxy projector effect colors
sky lite evolve smart multicolor galaxy projector

Sky Lite Evolve: Smart Galaxy Projector


The latest evolution in smart galaxy lighting.

Light up your gift exchange with BlissLights

Whether through stealing gifts or unwrapping new ones, White Elephant can keep everyone on their toes waiting to see what will happen next. BlissLights’ glorious hues and stars can elevate your game and set the mood with a simple tap on a phone screen. Browse the BlissLights collection now to instantly upgrade your holiday celebration.

About BlissLights

BlissLights has been a leader in the laser lighting industry since the company was founded in 2006. Our team of experienced engineers and technicians helped create award-winning special effect lighting for major theme parks before minaturizing ourpatented technology for home use. BlissLights is dedicated to laser safety and education, and is registered with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH).

View all articles by BlissLights LLC

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