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A White Elephant Party

A fun game-based party theme

The holidays are the perfect time to host a White Elephant Party! You might know it by a different name, because there are several, such as a Yankee Swap. These games can be a blast and a way to share inexpensive or humorous gifts with friends. You can play with as few as three or four people and up to around twenty-five. The more people involved, the longer the game will last. Here are some basic rules: 

  1. Everyone brings one wrapped gift, and all the gifts are placed in a central spot in the room.  

  2. Participants draw numbers to figure out the order of players with #1 being the most coveted number to pick. 

  3. Players sit where everyone can see, and the first player picks a package to open. Make sure everyone can see what’s inside. 

  4. Each player after #1 can keep what they opened or choose to swap gifts with anyone who has opened a gift before them. It can be very frustrating to have a low number with a good present, because you worry someone will take it away. 

  5. After all the players have opened a gift, player #1 may choose to swap their gift for anyone else’s, so everyone wants to be #1. 

There are tons of varieties to the game, and remember: your party equals your rules!  Here are some extra ideas or restrictions you can add to make your White Elephant Party unique: 

  1. A present can only be stolen once; or a present can only be stolen three times, and then the last person to have it after three swaps keeps it. 

  2. Everyone gets to go around a second time (great for a small group of 4-6 people). 

  3. All wrappings and/or gifts have to be homemade–nothing bought in a store. 

  4. All the presents have to be humorous in nature or gag gifts. 

  5. All gifts should be new and in a certain price range, such as $20-25. 

  6. All gifts have to be a certain color. 

  7. All gifts have to be something someone else gave you but you never used or you didn't like. This one can get tricky. Make sure you don't bring a gift someone in the party group gave to you on an earlier occasion. That risk is half the fun with a group of close friends. 

  8. All gifts fall into a certain theme such as clothing, spa products, things you can eat or drink, etc. 

What makes a great White Elephant Party? As long as you make it fun and fit your group of friends, you can’t go wrong. The only universal rules are to make sure the gifts are interesting and memorable and to have fun!

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