Is it very difficult to mess up a white elephant gift, for they can be virtually anything--a baby cactus, a beer stein, a "regifted" fruitcake or even a pair of underwear. The gifts are more for entertainment purposes than anything. Gifts tend to be funny and inexpensive, but that doesn't mean you can't put a little thought into it. Finding gifts is really easy, and a lot of fun!
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These usually tend to be the more popular gifts at a white elephant gift exchange; virtually anything goes in this category. Anything that you think will bring a smile to the other participants' faces is ideal. You could make a humorous jest towards one of the other participants by snagging something personal of theirs, and bringing it to the exchange. Go to a bakery and order some kind of over-sized desert. Pawn shops or antique shops are great places to find gifts such as these. Look for anything out of the norm--something that you would call weird or bizarre. Toilet seats, hideous statues, or massive pork rinds are just a few of the truly comical ideas. A huge family pack of toilet paper would go well with the toilet seat. If it is a work party, try something outrageous like gifting back the office printer. Your coworkers would surely get a kick out of that.
Comedy plays an important role in the exchange, but a sincere and personal gift gets the job done as well. If you are participating in the gift exchange with friends or family, try to find an old photograph of you all together and frame it. Something memorable from the past that would spark a flashback or two. Take time to craft a poem or short story that could stay in your family for generations. Though cash is not generally accepted, gift cards and certificates along with an item are. Get your coworkers a gift certificate to a close coffee shop along with a mug. Practical items are just as useful as the comical ones.
Homemade goods allow for limitless gift ideas. Baking, crafting, drawing, and painting are all acceptable pathways for a gift idea. Try making some delectable deserts and packing them up in plastic containers. If your strengths are in the arts, paint or draw a picture of a local scenery. Write a song and record it, offering that up as your gift. Build a bench, or a small piece of furniture. You could even go as far as to offer personal services to people, such as mowing their lawns or shoveling their driveways during the winter season. Your friends, family, and coworkers will truly enjoy the effort and creativity you invested in such a gift.