White Elephant “Gift Exchanges” Suck

Here I go again, being controversial.  Who the h-e- double hockey sticks invented the White Elephant concept and why do we continue to perpetrate this assault on gift giving, feelings and general human decency?

In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, a White Elephant “Gift Exchange” is a way to get rid of crap you have in your house that someone else might like.  A willing participation in re-gifting if you will.  You take your crappy thing and everyone else takes THEIR crappy things and you sit around a table or in a circle or something and draw numbers or whatever, which correspond to the pile of crappy presents in the middle.  You then get your supposedly crappy gift and some dead beat down the row can then “steal” it from you if they like your crap better than their crap.  “It’s all in good fun!”  “Oh ho ho ho, how fun!”  “This is sort-of exciting and FUN!!”  These are examples of the stupid comments you will hear at one of these super fun events.  Except here’s the problem and no one but me has the cojones to spell it out for you.  It’s not fun.  It sucks, it’s sort of mean spirited and again, it’s not fun.

Let’s pretend for a minute.  Your husband buys you a beautiful, I don’t know, bracelet let’s say and you love it.   You fasten it on your wrist and twist and turn said appendage to watch it sparkle in the light.  You are happy.  You get to keep it.  Forever.  Now, let’s make this a “White Elephant” situation.  You get your beautiful gift, it is waaaay more than you expected it to be, you thought he’d get you something crappy, but it’s not, you love it.  Suddenly, in your peripheral vision, you see someone else that your husband had to buy a gift for, say his secretary.  The problem is, he bought HER a fruit basket because he doesn’t love her.  She makes his copies.  You make his children.  Anyway, suddenly this secretary comes out of left field and says, “I think I’ll steal THAT thank you!”  She removes your beautiful bracelet from your hand, gives you her crappy fruit basket and whistles Dixie as she saunters away, only to have the bracelet stolen from HER on the next round by someone with a shake weight.

My point I guess is that the world is a tough enough place already, yes?  Gas prices change when the wind blows too hard.  Duke Energy sends you bills that require you to take second mortgages on houses.  Your credit card company raises your interest rate because they are being regulated out of business.  Your kid comes home from school swimming in germs because people don’t want to keep their sick kids home and before you know it, the whole household is spewing from every possible orifice.  It rains and rains and rains, then it snows for months.  I imagine you are getting the picture.  Then, you go to a Christmas party to have a smidgen of fun in the midst of all the CRAP and participate in a gift exchange, and when you get there, you find out that no matter what you get (sometimes the stuff at white elephants is really not all that crappy and you actually WANT what you got) you’re probably going to have it stolen from you.  That’s why I don’t go to certain areas of town after dark because I like to keep my stuff.

So here’s my suggestion to everyone with any remaining humanity in their souls in this hard knock world.  The next time someone invites you to a party where the gift exchange is a “White Elephant” don’t go.  Rebel.  Tell them the truth if you can, lie if you cannot.  “Oh, I’m sorry, I just cleaned out all my crappy stuff and I don’t have one single thing I could participate with” or “I’m sorry, I don’t participate in group sanctioned theft.  I don’t like getting gifts and then having someone I may or may not like steal it from me and then have to listen to everyone talk about how “fun” it is.  It’s not fun.  It sucks.  It’s sort-of mean.”  See?  I told a lie first, and then the truth.  The truth felt sooooo much better.  Oh, and one other thing.  NEVER do this with children.  They NEVER forget it and somehow in their twisted child minds, they blame YOU for it even if it wasn’t YOUR idea.  I’m still hearing about an item that was stolen during one of these super fun events ten years ago.  PLEASE, if you get nothing else from my stories, get this, stop the carnage.  Just say NO to the white elephant.  Be strong.  Be a rebel 😉

8 thoughts on “White Elephant “Gift Exchanges” Suck

  1. I don’t know of this blog is still active, but I found this post by googling “I don’t like getting things stolen from me at white elephant gift exchanges.”
    Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. I really hate white elephant.


  2. Like Lisa, I also don’t know if anyone is reading this blog but I found this post by googling “White Elephant Sucks”. My boyfriend’s family does it and they all think it’s just a hoot and a hollar and “all in good fun” and “hilarious”. I’d rather do ALL the holiday dishes for the entire city of Chicago than participate in this “game”. I feel it’s mean and frankly a huge waste of time. The way my boyfriend’s family does it, it takes HOURS. The problem I additionally get to deal with is that I am bullied for not participating on White Elephant. So, on top of the stigma that I seem to be the only one in the family of 25 people that does not want to play, I am also ridiculed for it as well.

    Now THAT sounds like fun!


  3. White elephant gift exchange was invented by bullies! It is not fun. In an office setting where you have mixed personalities…you may as we’ll be playing with the Game of Thrones characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I HATE white elephant. I always have. I just found this post by searching “white elephant sucks” and found your post. I’m glad that I am not alone.


  5. I had my first experience with The White Elephant gift exchange at work, there was no rules of bringing gag or silly gifts, just presents around $20. IT IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT that this game was invented by bullies. I actually picked a gift that was so perfect for my current situation, really put a smile on my face… which every Co-worker understood. I was devasted when it was taken from me! Just couldn’t understand why they would do that to me…. had to pick another gift which was lame and useless. Left the work party feeling bullied and sad.


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