Homemade White Elephant Gifts

Two hands, each with fingers dressed up with tiny Santa hatsMaking your own gift for a White Elephant party is, on the one hand, quite special. After all, a gift created with one’s own hands is inherently more meaningful than a store-bought item.

On the other hand, it can be terrifying. Some of us aren’t as “crafty” as others, so the idea of making a gift (and having it opened in public!) can be intimidating. Or if it’s not stage fright, it could just be exasperation at the thought of adding one more item to our already lengthy holiday to-do lists.

If you’re planning a homemade White Elephant gift, it’s probably because the rules of the gift exchange call for it. Or maybe it’s your decision to craft something on your own – in which case, kudos. Either way, here are some thoughts on the different types of homemade gifts you might want to attempt.


When you think of a homemade gift, food is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But before you rush to grab your apron, remember that the holidays are already overloaded with candy, cookies, and chocolate-covered everything. Also, remember that people have different tastes – not to mention allergies.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t bring food, because it will be appreciated by most people. Just make sure it’s something special, like a treasured family recipe or a clever novelty item. Presentation also makes a big difference, so think about packaging your food gift in festive box or other container. Here are three quick ideas:

  • Cookies in a Jar (cookie ingredients layered in a jar)
  • Candy Bouquet
  • Candied Pecans

You can find many more ideas for food gifts online. Pinterest is a great place to start.


If you have a talent for sewing, scrapbooking, or anything else you can put to use, don’t be shy about showing it off. Or, if you’ve always wanted to try your hand at a craft, now you have the perfect excuse. Just make sure you set aside enough time for trial and error.

The possibilities for DIY craft gifts are endless. If you already have a crafting hobby, you can find your own inspiration by adding a pinch of the Christmas spirit to projects you’ve already done or contemplated doing. Here are just a few of the things you might expect to see at a White Elephant gift exchange featuring homemade gifts:

  • Christmas Ornament
  • Fleece Blanket
  • Mason Jar Candle Holder

Once again, the internet has craft ideas in abundance. The only trouble is sorting through the projects intended for kids. Once again, Pinterest is my go-to place for projects of this nature.

Gag Gifts!

Can you even call it a White Elephant gift exchange if there are no gag gifts in the mix? I think not!

In some ways, a gag gift is the hardest to make yourself because it requires some imagination. On the other hand, craftsmanship isn’t necessarily as important for something that’s meant to be funny. Here are three examples of gag gifts that most people could easily make themselves:

  • Redneck Wine Glass (mason jar glued to a candle stick)
  • Framed Funny Picture (use nice frame they can keep)
  • DIY Coupon Book (“One Room Cleaning,” etc.)

You might also want to consider an inside joke that the group will understand, or something that reflects your unique personality. If you get stuck, check out the funny gifts on Etsy and similar marketplaces for to find inspiration.

Okay, we’ve gone through a handful of homemade White Elephant gift ideas, but there are many more out there for you to discover. Remember that the real gift isn’t the craft itself, but the personal touch you add to it. Good luck… and good crafting!

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Roberta Jeeves is author of the book White Elephant Gift Exchange: Rules, Themes, and Ideas for Hosting a Perfect Holiday Gift Swap. You can buy or borrow it at Amazon.com.

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