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What is a White Elephant Party?

Have you ever been invited to a White Elephant party? Have you wondered what it means? And what is a white elephant gift?

A white elephant gift exchange is known by numerous other names, including Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa, Kris Kringle, and Secret Santa. The goal of this party is to give a gag gift that entertains everyone from the moment it is opened, rather than to give a serious, highly sought-after present. Secret Santa and Kris Kringle may incorporate more useful, desirable gifts, but White Elephant is all about the silly, the funny, and the absurd.

Why White Elephant?

To label something as a white elephant is to denote it as a burden to the person who possesses it. It was a term first brought to England in the 1800s and was (and still is) used to denote extravagant, expensive, yet impractical public buildings. Blenheim Palace is one such example of an English white elephant, as was the Columbia Road Market in London (which after a disastrous history, was demolished in the 1950s).

The origin of the term “white elephant” comes from a Siamese legend, in which a wily emperor would give anyone who annoyed him a white albino elephant. These highly prized and rare animals were always gifted to the emperor when they were found, and they were highly revered and strictly not to be put to work or even ridden. As such, they were extremely expensive to keep and care for. So when the king re-gifted them, the recipient (who must accept and keep a gift from the emperor) would invariably find himself in financial ruin as a result.

White Elephant Gifts

Great white elephant gifts are at the core of a white elephant party! Finding and choosing the perfectly silly white elephant gift is half the fun!

Here at White Elephant Gift, we have a vast array of white elephant gift ideas for you to explore and find the one that tickles your fancy – from as little as less than ten dollars!

Just a few examples of what you can find at our online store include:

Some gifts are completely useless; some are simply hilarious; some are actually useful! The choice is yours!

How Does a White Elephant Party Work? Come back next week to discover The Official White Elephant Rules!