5 Ideas For Last-Minute White Elephant Gifts

Man wearing a Santa hat and fretting over a clock he's holding, which shows that Christmas is almost hereSo, you’re a big procrastinator. Or your White Elephant invitation got lost in the mail (yeah, right). Now it’s time to come up with a gift – and fast.

If you have a couple of days to order something and wait for it to arrive, no problem. Just pick something from this list of top White Elephant gifts.

But that’s probably not why you’re here. No, you’re here because you have to have something right away – as in, “I need to walk out the door right now and just get something!” Fortunately for you, there are still options, as long as you’re willing to get creative and make some compromises.

Since you’re in such a hurry, let’s get straight to the last-minute White Elephant gift ideas. These are all options that you can probably pick up right now.

1. Mix-a-Six from the liquor store. Many liquor stores allow you to create your own six pack with individual beers of your choice. If alcoholic beverages aren’t an option, you might be able to do the same with bottles of high-end soda at your local grocery store. Time permitting, you can take the additional step of dressing up the bottles in festive fashion (here’s a tutorial on making “reinbeer”).

2. Lottery tickets. This intriguing option for a gift exchange can be found at any convenience store counter. Most people love the idea of a big payoff, even if the odds aren’t great.

3. Gift card. Okay, a gift card isn’t the most thoughtful choice in most cases. However, you can make it more exciting by putting it in creative or even misleading packaging (for example, try putting it in a big box before wrapping). It’s also ideal if the gift card is for a local business that most people at the party are familiar with.

4. Something from the grocery store’s gourmet section. You can usually find Christmas candy and popcorn tins at any decent grocery store, but if you want something unique, check out the gourmet section. You might be able to find some appealing food items that people don’t routinely buy for themselves, such as imported olive oil, fine cheeses, and artisanal bread.

5. Homemade coupons. The idea is to create your own coupon or coupon book with IOU’s for future favors. For example, if it’s an office party, you make a coupon offering Starbucks delivery. If it’s for friends or family, it could be something like a foot massage. Obviously, you need to exercise good judgement on what to offer, and make sure you’re willing to follow through. For nice-looking coupons, look for a printable online (here’s one option).

If none of those work for you, here’s one bonus idea – re-gift something you already own. No matter what you end up bringing, keep in mind that a White Elephant gift exchange is really about people getting together and having fun over the holidays. No one should expect to walk away from a gift swap with a valuable prize, so don’t worry too much about it.

Good luck with your last-minute gift hunting – and Merry Christmas!

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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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