A White Elephant Re-Gifting Party

A fun way to put Santa’s mistakes and other mis-gifted items to use.
Staff Writer

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

The gift giving season always finds you with a few gifts that would have been better left at the shop or in the craft drawer they came from. As you are not alone in your quest to put these unwanted gifts to use, why not invite a few friends over to exchange them and add a little merriment to an otherwise quiet January night? 

This unwanted gift exchange has been called a number of things, most commonly a Bad Santa or White Elephant Party. Regardless of what you call it, they all have the same common rules for entertaining that make the exchange fun and lighthearted, if not positively hilarious, as everyone battles for the prettiest wrapped present that usually hides the most hideous of gifts.


When Planning Your Gift Exchange:

Keep these tips in mind for a perfect party.

1. Keep the group small and intimate. 6-8 people generally ensures a good exchange, and requires only basic menu planning of the hostess.

2. Everyone must bring a wrapped unwanted gift from December, paying special attention not to bring a gift that one of the other party members may have given (no insults or embarrassments, please). An alternative to this is to ask your guests to bring a wrapped gag gift under a pre-determined value.

3. The aim is to have the prettiest wrapped gift to entice the players, and to keep all gifts anonymous. 

4. Find a place for all the gifts to be displayed prior to the game and remember to remind your guests that the exchange is anonymous. 


How to Play: 

The exchange can be played a few ways; this is the most straightforward:

1. Have your guests draw a number out of a hat to define the choosing order. 

2. Person ‘1’ selects their present first, but does not unwrap it.  

3. Then, person ‘2’ may either steal from person ‘1’ or choose their own gift; this process goes on until all players have selected a gift.

4. Once everyone has a gift, the gifts are unwrapped together to reveal the treasures hidden behind the wrapping. 


Serve Food and Drinks:

No party is complete without a little food and drink. As the December party season has left me searching for fresh inspiration, I am keeping my menu light for my guests (and our waistlines) — and easy for me.  A simple menu not only allows you to do most of the prep work before your guests arrive, but also keep the clean up afterwards to a minimum; which is helpful if you are popping bottles of Prosecco to accompany the meal, like I am.


Simple Rocket Salad

A light and peppery salad that can be assembled in advance, and tossed with the dressing right before serving.


Creamy Risotto

From The Daily Meal

A simple risotto, studded with green peas. For more color or flavor, you can also add in diced carrot, sautéed bacon, or extra cheese.


Pear Pudding or Budino di Pera

Budino is Italian for pudding. This simple dessert combines pear and lemon for a light and delicate dessert. Baking the pan in a water bath is essential for achieving the budino’s airy texture.

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