The key to a truly excellent white elephant gift is finding the rare item that is both funny and functional. A good player of the game will bring a gift that surprises and delights; a great player will bring the item that is so novel everyone wants it—the gift that’s never safe from being stolen or swapped.
While shopping for traditional gifts for the folks in your life who love to eat, travel, or host is fairly straightforward, white elephant gift exchanges require an extra bit of creativity. We searched high and low for items that evoked whimsy and humor and rounded up 16 of the quirkiest and most outrageous little gifts that are sure to be a hit at your next holiday party. Best of all, in keeping with most white elephant traditions, at the time of publication, they all clock in at $25 or less.
World’s smallest Uno game Price: $4.99
A sure way to please a crowd is taking something that everyone already knows and loves—in this case, the card game Uno—and shrinking it down to a playful miniature size. This mini Uno deck delivers all of the fun of the original but is particularly great for travel, small hands, and people who just love tiny things.
Buy now: $4.99 at Ace Hardware, $7.08 at Amazon
Wish paper Price: $7.50
Make setting intentions into a fancy ritual with these wish papers. To use them, each participant writes a wish or intention on a piece of paper, rolls it into a cylinder, and sets it on fire. After the paper burns, the ash will float away, releasing the wishes into the universe.
Buy now: $7.50 at Tops Malibu
Doggie ice cube tray Price: $7.99
This dachshund ice tray would be a wacky yet welcome addition to any white elephant gift pool. Made of flexible silicone for easy removal, the tray turns out adorable ice sculptures that will add a playful touch to any cold beverage.
Buy now: $7.99 at Amazon
Iridescent back scratcher Price: $8.75
There are few things more satisfying than scratching an itch, and you’ll always be able to do that with this telescoping back scratcher, which can get to all the hard-to-reach spots. The whimsical iridescent finish makes it just unique enough to capture attention.
Buy now: $8.75 at Kikkerland
Mini cake pop maker Price: $8.99
The dominance of cake pops in popular baking culture has waned, which only makes this at-home cake pop maker a better choice for a white elephant gift exchange. Does anyone really need this? No. But is it just weird—and functional—enough to be a hit? Definitely. The maker has a 350-watt heating system that can turn out sweet treats in minutes.
Buy now: $8.99 at Macy’s, $29.99 at BuyDig
Good luck clover kit Price: $9.97
Everyone can use a little more luck in their lives—and with this good luck clover seed sprouting kit, they’ll be able to grow it themselves. The package comes with everything a person would need to nurture clover, including a glazed terracotta pot and seeds.
Buy now: $9.97 at Saks Off Fifth, $12.99 at Camp
“No” button Price: $10
Sometimes, when the answer is a resounding no, your voice alone doesn’t feel emphatic enough to express it. That’s when this useful button comes in: simply press it to let your feelings be known, loud and clear.
Buy now: $10 at Target
Shower beer holder Price: $11.20
Sometimes you just want a beer in the shower after a long, hard day. But finding a place to put down the can presents a challenge. Enter this handy silicone holder, which can be applied to any smooth and clean shower surface, including tile, porcelain, and glass.
Buy now: $11.20 at Tooletries, $16 at MR PORTER
Nicolas Cage sleeping mask Price: $15.14
When it’s time to get some sleep, let one of the most prolific actors of the past century keep an eye out for you. This hilarious sleeping mask will allow the lucky recipient channel national treasure Nicolas Cage while they dream.
Buy now: $15.14 at Etsy
Puffer jacket koozie Price: $15.95
When the temperature drops, keep cold beverages insulated and fingers protected in over-the-top style with this koozie shaped like a tiny parka. This jacket koozie features two layers of insulation and a handy zipper for easy beverage insertion and removal.
Buy now: $15.95 at Williams Sonoma, $15.95 at Sun and Ski
‘Who pooped?’ puzzle Price: $17
This 3-foot-wide, 100-piece puzzle is both a fun activity and a learning opportunity. After the recipient pieces it together, they can learn about different animals and their droppings from the puzzle’s charming and informative illustrations.
Buy now: $17 at Uncommon Goods
Sparkling maple syrup Price: $18
Breakfast can now be a glittering affair with this sparkling maple syrup. Made with real, all-natural Vermont maple syrup and a pearlescent, food-grade mica (a mineral that naturally reflects light and is completely flavorless), this syrup will deliver sparkle and shine to the recipient’s next pancake breakfast.
Buy now: $18 at Uncommon Goods
Kombucha kit Price: $20
Give the funkiest white elephant gift of the season with a kombucha starter kit that allows the recipient to make their own brew at home. Equipped with a kombucha culture and starter liquid, the kit has the essentials to make a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, or a SCOBY, which is responsible for fermenting kombucha.
Buy now: $20 at The Kombucha Shop
Post Malone temporary tattoos Price: $20
Few public figures have tattoos as distinctive as the rapper Post Malone, whose ink includes multiple face tatts, including the words “always” and “tired” under his eyes. Now, anyone can replicate his edgy look with this set of temporary tattoos. Each pack contains 12 pieces, so there are multiple ways to cosplay Malone.
Buy now: $20 at Momentary Ink
Grapes candle Price: $24
Fresh fruit has a short shelf life, but this gorgeously rendered wax grape candle is sculpted to last—at least until it melts down. Handmade in Italy by Cereria Introna, a 6th-generation company that’s been making candles since 1840, the grapes candle is made of paraffin wax and a cotton wick for a clean burn.
Buy now: $24 at East Fork
Basketball mug Price: $25
Start mornings off with a slam dunk with this sporty mug featuring a tiny backboard and hoop on the rim. Basketball devotees and caffeine enthusiasts alike will be charmed by not only the cheeky design, but also the fact that it’s dishwasher safe.
Buy now: $25 at Uncommon Goods
Write to Cady Lang at [email protected].com.