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How to Throw a White Elephant Party for The Holidays

The holidays are here. Use these helpful tips on how to host the perfect white elephant party with your team.

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By the Offsyte Team, December 5, 2022

A virtual white elephant party is a great way to celebrate the holiday season. It gets everyone laughing and talking because there is almost no pressure to produce the perfect gift. In fact, the best virtual white elephant parties usually feature the weirdest, silliest and most unique presents.

If you're thinking of hosting an online white elephant party for the holidays, we've got you covered.

5 Steps for Hosting a Virtual White Elephant Party

1. Set the Steal Policy

A typical white elephant party has a "steal" option. If you're using the steal, a player can opt to take a gift from someone else. If you opt to do a "no-steal" online white elephant party, it's essentially the same thing as a Secret Santa party.

2. Choose Numbers

Once you have your team assembled on Zoom or whatever video conferencing platform you use, it's time to assign numbers. You can use a site to pick random numbers or just do it yourself. The numbers assigned are the picking order for the white elephant party.

3. Make the Picks

Now that your team has assigned numbers, it's time to get picking. Each team member must select a gift other than their own to open. The person with number one goes first.

4. Stealing Time

If you opted for the steal option for your white elephant party, things get interesting right away. The person who has number one gets things going. Once they unwrap their gift, the person who has number two has two options: They can keep the present they have or steal another person's gift. The game continues until all the gifts have been opened and claimed.

5. Send the Gifts

Now that your virtual white elephant party is finished, instruct your team members to mail them to their rightful recipients.

Virtual White Elephant Guidelines

Keep The Budget Low

White elephant gifts should be more Chia Pet and less new iPhone. In other words, keep the gift budget fairly low. This alleviates stress and encourages more unique presents. A good price range is anywhere from $10 to $20 per gift.

Any Player Can Steal

If a team member wants an opened gift over their unopened gift, they can steal the gift. To keep the game from getting too chaotic, we suggest you set a steal limit of three per turn. That means the third person must keep the gift that they have.

Make it Count

Because the white elephant gift budget is quite low, encourage your team to purchase presents that are fun, but still desirable. This might seem crazy to hear, but not everyone wants a light that attaches to a toilet bowl.

Send Away

Because your white elephant party is online, make sure you set a deadline for when all the gifts should be mailed.

If you’re looking for additional party ideas your team will enjoy, check out these 9 fun holiday party ideas for work.

More to Know About Virtual White Elephant Parties

How do you play white elephant online?

You can host a virtual white elephant party via Zoom or any other video conferencing platform. Pick a date, explain the rules and have your team purchase their gifts. On the set date, gather your team together and assign numbers. Once the picking order is set, let the fun begin.

What are some good gifts for virtual white elephant parties?

The best white elephant gifts are affordable, fun, unique and desirable. Think fun first and go from there.

Is there a white elephant app?

There are several websites and apps that can help you run your virtual white elephant party, but really, you don't need them. It's a fairly straightforward process that anyone can do.


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