I don’t know the origin of the white elephant gift exchange or why it’s called a white elephant, but the concept allows a group of people – often co-workers – to have a gift-giving party that only requires participants to buy one gift.
Usually a budget is set of $10, $15, or $20 for gifts. To start the game, people draw numbers with slips of paper. For example, if 12 people are playing, everyone gets a number 1 through 12. The first person gets to select any package from the pool of gifts. The person has to keep this gift for now, but the next person to play will have the option to select an unopened gift or steal the gift opened by the first person. The game goes on until everyone opens or steals a present. When someone has a present stolen that person can steal or open another gift. The person in the number 1 position gets a chance to steal after the last person completes a turn.
Typically, participants set the rule that a gift can only be stolen twice before it goes out of play and stays with the final person to get it.
When shopping for a gift for your white elephant party, you must decide which approach to take. Your options are:
- Enter a gift that will be valued by participants and promote stealing. Good gift candidates that will erase sensitivities between friends, spouses, and co-workers are alcohol, desserts, and gift certificates.
- Enter a gift that is unappealing. The recipient will likely get stuck with it because no one will steal it. Such items should be worthy of open derision both from the recipient and those lucky enough not to open it. The recipient might enhance festivities by pitching the merits of the proverbial lump of coal and trying to entice someone to take it. When entering a gift like this in the game, you’re hoping that someone you don’t like will get it.
- Enter a gift that most people will consider nice. It might not promote squabbling but getting stuck with it won’t scar anybody.
The Battle Creek Gift Shop has many items that would fall into any of these categories. The status of the gift would depend on the recipient. A small alligator head might delight one person while disappointing another. We’re sure, however, that anyone would love to get a decorative costume dagger, and it’s hard to go wrong with a lovely scented soy candle. Our store has many gifts under $20 such as handcuffs, thumbcuffs, facemasks, Petoskey stones, coin art, paracord, emergency rations, knives, and shemagh scarves.
The store is located at 1778 W. Columbia Ave. We’re open daily through the holidays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.