Make your white elephant gift exchange exciting with fun, classic, and festive themes.
These unique and classic themes encourage the participants to use their creativity and think outside the box. You will all be laughing and talking about this memorable event for years.
Besides, a themed white elephant gift exchange presents a fantastic opportunity to showcase your personal style and sense of humor.
Do you need white elephant gift exchange game ideas? I’ve got you covered!
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16 Popular and Unique White Elephant Gift Exchange Themes
The good ol’ classics are always in. You can always add a little twist to those, too, but who would not also enjoy doing something different this year.
1. Winter Wonderland
Can’t go wrong with this one. The winter is just around the corner, so everyone will be happy to receive something for this fantastic time of year.
Winter-Themed Gift Ideas
- cozy blankets
- warm socks
- delicious hot chocolate
- hand warmers
- “snow place like home” wall art
Can we really have too many mugs? Coffee mugs, travel mugs, hilarious mugs, cute sayings… Many options for every taste.
And hey, if the rules allow, you can get creative with this one, too.
Mug-Themed Gift Ideas
- mug cozy
- mug-themed decor
- hot cocoa
3. Christmas Movie Inspired Gift Exchange
Pick a movie, and everyone gets a gift related to it. The options are endless with this one!
E.g., The Polar Express
- anything train related: wall art, mugs, stress toys, books
- socks…preferably clean…and not for making a yucky beverage
- pajama pants
- sleigh bell
- hot chocolate
Bring your favorite beverage to the gift exchange. Get creative with the wrapping to make it extra fabulous. And like with any other theme, you don’t need to limit yourselves.
Beverage Themed Gift Ideas
- “Life Is What Happens Between Coffee and Wine” tote bag
- coffee spoon with a fun message
- wine stopper
- tea infuser
Games are always fun, and when the gift exchange is done, another party activity is waiting: game time!
I’ve got plenty of game ideas for you. Please, share them with the participants for easy shopping.
6. Christmas Card-Inspired Gifts
It will be quite interesting to see all the various Secret Santa gifts inspired by a Christmas card.
So, send a Christmas card as the invitation or with it. It can be the same for everyone or different for each participant. Either way, it will be a blast.
If using different ones, ask the guests to attach the card to the gift so the receiver knows what inspired that particular present.
It’s very simple: bring a scarf to the gift exchange. And once again, add a twist that the gift can also be scarf-related.
- fleece scarf kit
- yarn and knitting needles
- scarf ring
- snowman wearing a scarf (mug, tote bag, decor item)
Pick a book, and all the participants buy gifts inspired by the book.
Another fun way to do this is by giving everyone a different book to base their presents on.
E.g., Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- playing cards
- tea cups
- pocket watch
- key jewelry
- flamingo toiletry bag
- we’re all mad here T-shirt
Surprise the gift receiver with an additional gift for book lovers.
Pick a theme like casseroles, chocolate desserts, cheesecakes, etc. Include some fun items to go with the recipe.
- cocoa powder
- cake pan
- muffin cups
10. Around The World
Pick a country as your inspiration. Exchange gifts that somehow relate to that specific country.
E.g., Finland… my country of birth
- Moomin items(a Finnish cartoon character)
- Kuksa (handmade wooden cup)
- anything hockey related
- salmiakki (salty licorice)
- Fazer “blue” chocolate (the best chocolate in the world)
Turn your Holiday celebration into a 60’s Christmas party. You’ll have fun dressing up the 60’s style and exchanging gifts that were popular back then.
60’s Gift Ideas
- popular candy: Swedish Fish, Razzles, candy buttons
- mid-century wall art
- Peanuts comic books
- games: Racko, Stratego, Park and Shop, Chutes and Ladders
- hippie glasses
12. Color Theme
Choose a color for all the Secret Santa gifts. Stick with one color or make it more challenging by requesting a specific color combo. This will give everyone a chance to buy very unique gifts.
13. A to Z Gifts
Another simple but fabulous idea is to get gifts that begin with a specific letter. You could randomly pick one letter for the whole group, or each participant could buy something starting with their name’s first letter.
Letter C Gift Ideas
- Champagne glasses
- coconut bowls
- cheese board
- card game
14. Romantic Gift Exchange Theme
Bring some romance into this festive occasion and swap charming, romantic gifts.
Romantic Gift Ideas
- heart-shaped picture frame
- date night adventure cards
- cozy blanket
- rom-com movie
These gifts will inspire you to get your homes organized after the holidays.
Organization Gift Ideas
- hat hangers
- bottle organizers
- label maker
- magnetic tool holder strip
16. Travel-Themed Secret Santa
Business trips, vacations, road trips, trips to the store… make those adventures fun with travel-themed gifts.
Travel-Themed Gift Ideas
- mini jewelry case (cute and popular)
- collapsible water bottle
- luggage scale
- travel mug
- passport holder
- luggage travel cup holder
Tips for Hosting a Memorable White Elephant Gift Exchange
1. How to Choose a Great Theme for Secret Santa Gifts
Choosing a fantastic white elephant gift exchange theme can be fun and exciting. With so many options, it can get overwhelming, too. But I’ve got some excellent tips to help you find the ideal theme for your group.
Who, what, why, where…
Who Is Participating
If you have a group of hikers, it would be easy to pick a “hiking gear” theme. Things to consider: are you all newbies, or does everyone already have everything hiking-related. While a “hiking gear” theme would be awesome, you all might find it super fun to do an “A to Z” theme.
Are you all busy but still want to make the party fun by exchanging gifts? Keep it simple and go with “games” or “beverages.”
Perhaps you have a group who loves the challenge, and you could pick a “movie,” “book,” or pretty much any theme and go all out.
What Is the Purpose of This Secret Santa Gift Exchange (Why)
Do you want to do something crazy and hilarious or exchange practical gifts?
2. Set the Rules
- Avoid awkwardness by setting a budget, the minimum and maximum.
- Are you going to use wish lists?
- Decide whether you want to limit the size of the gift.
- How to wrap the gifts? Bags, boxes? Add an element of awesomeness by encouraging creative wrapping.
Use gift exchange wish lists to make shopping easier. FREE printable!
3. Pick an Exciting Game
What would a Holiday party be without fun Christmas gift exchange games! These games, from auction to candy cane spin, make the event exciting.
Implement the additional rules to shorten the duration of the game.
Christmas Party Fun for Everyone
Plan your Christmas party around the white elephant gift exchange theme… or the other way around. Host a winter wonderland or a travel-themed Holiday celebration and make great memories with family and friends.