• Eloise Stewart

How to Win at Dirty Santa and White Elephant


I know it may seem funny that a branding business is writing about Dirty Santa gifts but we believe if you are going to do something, do it well. And that applies to holiday party gift games!


Based on our experiences with Dirty Santa and White Elephant games, we have 3 pieces of advice that will help you bring the right gift but also make the game more fun.


  1. Wrapping is Everything - even if your gift is small or simple or inexpensive, don’t skimp on the wrapping. The way that you wrap the present can make the games more fun. If your gift is small, you can put it in a larger box where they have to unwrap a few layers.

  2. Know your Audience - This is where most holiday gift games go wrong. People don’t know their audience (same goes for branding!). These games are supposed to be fun and full of laughter. But you have to pick presents that your audience would enjoy and appreciate.

  3. Know the Game - How many times have you played a holiday gift game and one person brought a gag gift while all the others brought nice gifts? Ask what the dollar amount is for the gifts and if it's gag gifts or nicer gifts.


Speaking of the game… Do you know the difference between Dirty Santa and White Elephant?

Many times they are used interchangeably but they do represent different types of holiday gift games.


White Elephant: The term white elephant refers to an extravagant, impractical gift that cannot be easily disposed of. The phrase is said to come from the historic practice of the King of Siam (now Thailand) giving rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, so that they might be ruined by the animals' upkeep costs. White Elephant gifts are usually impractical gag gifts or gifts from home that just meant to bring laughter to the party.


Here are some examples for your next game:

  1. Wine Stockings

  2. Muffin Tin Liners

  3. Shower Beer Holder

  4. Dad Bag Fanny Pack

  5. Prank Box

  6. Watch Ya Mouth Game

  7. Animal Paw Socks

  8. Golden Girls Chia Pet

  9. Belly Button Cleaners

  10. Mobile Sauce Holder

  11. Mini Karaoke Mic or Car Karoke


Dirty Santa: Dirty Santa is a family friendly gift exchange game where participants steal gifts from each other in the attempt to end up with the best gift! ... Unlike the White Elephant gift exchange, Dirty Santa gifts are usually items recipients will want and use!


Here are some examples around $25 for your next game:

  1. Self-inflating lounge chair

  2. Two Bottle Wine Carrier

  3. BruMate Hopsulator Slim Double-Walled Stainless Steel Can

  4. Cold Case Murder Mystery Game

  5. Weighted Blanket

  6. Specialty Olive Oils

  7. Self care items from World Market

  8. Beers of the World Variety Pack

  9. Oversized Stars Above Robe

  10. Micro Pop-Corn Popper

  11. 9 in 1 Multitool

  12. And if you run out of time, give yourself some grace and get a $25+ gift card

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