White Elephant Etiquette

The smell of cinnamon, the chill of a soft winter breeze and the sound of bells and Christmas carols fill the air. The holiday season is here. Friends are gathering for Christmas dinners, ugly sweater parties and a seasonal favorite: white elephant gift exchanges.

While this type of party is a favorite among friends, there are some things that often occur, which are considered “party fouls.” To make sure you don’t end up in this awkward situation here are a few rules of etiquette to live by when participating in a white elephant gift exchange.

Do not give something that is broken. Just because you have something lying around the house does not mean that it is suitable for a white elephant gift exchange. Whatever you decide to bring needs to be in proper working order and not ripped, torn or damaged in any way. Giving a gift that is broken and useless is not funny. It’s rude.

Give something appropriate for the audience. Different groups of people expect different things when walking into these types of gift exchanges. If you’re with jokesters, then you need to play along. If you’re with a more serious crowd, then you need to bring something suitable for that audience.

Make sure you are not regifting with the original party present. There is nothing worse than getting caught regifting that awful singing fish your friend gave you with that friend at the same party.

“It’s okay to regift a gift that you have received from a different white elephant exchange, as long as none of the same people are present,” Andrew Hochradel, a senior, said.

If there is a tradition at a party, keep it going. Don’t be a sore loser when you get the ugly gnome that just keeps appearing at the party.

Instead of this being a downer on your night, you should see it as an honor to be the winner of such a tradition. Also, make sure, if you are not going to be around next year, that the traditional gift gets placed with someone who will attend the party again. There is nothing worse than killing a tradition during the holiday season.

Lastly, when in doubt of what you should take or if you should be funny, just go with the simple back up of giving something you already have but do not really use.

You are not only giving something beneficial, but you are also clearing out some of your clutter and it could just make someone’s night.

“Give a general gift. This is probably the only occasion where little-to-no effort is allowed when shopping for the gift. In fact, it’s encouraged,” Sammy Ramos, a junior Psychology and Christian Behavioral Science major, said.

There you have it. Following these simple tips will help you succeed at being one of the greatest white elephant gift exchangers. They say this is the season of giving, so do not be a tacky giver.

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