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Understandably, it might be stressful to start thinking about holiday gifts now. If you want to start somewhere on your list where there isn’t quite as much pressure, a white elephant gift exchange is a good place to begin — these gifts don’t have to cater to one specific person’s tastes, so you just have to pick something with a generic appeal.
Though it might feel strange to think about the holidays before Halloween has even had its time to shine, this year is unlike many others in myriad ways (to say the least). Ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday shopping season, experts are warning that supply chain issues and shipping delays threaten to keep shelves emptier than normal and prolong shipping times. Consumers are already acting accordingly: In a survey of over 1,000 people, BlackFriday.com found that 66 percent of individuals plan to finish their holiday shopping as soon as they can.
What is a white elephant gift exchange?
A white elephant gift exchange — sometimes referred to as a Yankee Swap — is a fun holiday activity in which everyone brings one wrapped gift and leaves with a different one.
Here’s how it works:
- All of the gifts go into a pile
- Players draw numbers to figure out when it will be their turn to choose a gift
- During each player’s turn, they can either choose an unwrapped gift from the pile or steal a previously opened gift from another player
- Anyone whose gift is stolen then has the opportunity to either open a new present or steal another gift (though they cannot steal the same gift back)
To help even the odds, most white elephant gift exchanges work best when all the gifts align in cost. To help you find the right gift for your white elephant gift exchange, we rounded up some white elephant gift ideas based on our previous coverage and reader interest, all within the $30-$75 range.
White elephant gift ideas
A portable speaker is a great gift that virtually anyone can enjoy, especially during the holiday entertaining season. And according to tech expert Whitson Gordon, Tribit makes “some of the best budget Bluetooth speakers in the business.” In our guide to portable speakers, he recommended the XSound Go, which has up to 24 hours of nonstop battery life and a water-resistance rating of IPX7.
If your white elephant gift exchange involves a lot of individuals with longer hair, this straightener is definitely worth considering. In our guide to flat irons, hairstylist Caile Noble noted that it works with all hair types — the temperature can be adjusted from 180 to 455 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your hair texture.
In our previous report on teas for better mental and physical health, experts told us that matcha green tea is rich in L-theanine, which purportedly has de-stressing and anxiety-reducing effects. The powdered tea needs to be whisked properly in order to be enjoyed, though, so anyone who is serious about their matcha drinks (or wants to be) will likely appreciate this gift set. In addition to a bamboo whisk and ceremonial matcha bowl, it includes a 12-gram tin of organic matcha, and it all comes wrapped neatly in a giftable box with a silver ribbon.
Many people prefer to start their day with a cup of coffee over tea. If you know that most of your friends are coffee drinkers, they may prefer this cold brew coffee maker from OXO, which uses a “rainmaker” feature to evenly distribute water across coffee grounds. In our guide to making cold brew, Graham Peeples, director of beverage at Methodical Coffee, explained that this “is the main difference that will improve the taste of your cold brew.”
Research has shown that lavender can have a positive effect on everything from anxiety and depression to sleep disorders. During the stressful holiday season, this gift set can certainly come in handy — it comes with a lavender pillow spray and sleep mask to help you sleep more soundly, plus a soy-blend lavender candle to relax and a lavender grow kit so your whole house can be filled with the soothing floral scent.
Numerous experts have told us that breathable silk bedding is less irritating for the skin. This sleep mask from Slip is made of machine-washable mulberry silk and is designed to block out light while you sleep, creating an environment fit for slumber. Anyone who sleeps can benefit from this breathable mask — in other words, everyone.
Whether they’re always sore from working out or have an achy back from slouching at their desk all day, they’ll likely get a lot of use out of this massage gun from Wahl. Certified strength and conditioning specialist Allen Conrad previously recommended this compact massager as one of the best massage guns — it comes with four attachment heads and has two speeds and two vibration settings.
Does your white elephant gift exchange involve a lot of fitness enthusiasts? These popular wrist and ankle weights can instantly upgrade both at-home workouts and sweat sessions at the gym. They come in vibrant colors and patterns, and Select writer Zoe Malin previously said they’re the best wrist weights she’s ever used.
This low-maintenance indoor plant is pretty difficult to kill. It thrives in indirect sunlight and only needs to be watered every one to two weeks, making it a great plant for those who want the benefits of greenery without the work.
This Glow Recipe kit includes miniature versions of the brand’s cleanser, toner, moisturizer, sleeping mask and eye sleeping mask. Several of the products are made with watermelon extract, which hydrates and soothes the skin, according to the brand. In our guide to blackhead treatments, experts recommended Glow Recipe’s Pore-Tight Toner, noting that it simultaneously shrinks pores and moisturizes the skin.