With the holidays just around the corner, it is never too early to start thinking about gifts for your friends and family.
The closer to the holidays, the harder it becomes to find reasonably priced gifts that aren’t already out of stock, so we’ve decided to make your shopping job a little bit easier by compiling some of the best budget-friendly white elephant gifts.
While white elephant gift exchanges are typically reserved for the holiday season, these gifts are available year-round and perfect for anyone who might enjoy a funny present for any occasion.
Whether you are trying to avoid the late December gift scramble or buying last-minute presents for a holiday party, there is something on this list to suit every budget and that will make any recipient laugh.
The list is arranged so you can be sure to pick out something wallet-friendly and sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face.
How to Play a White Elephant Gift Exchange
If you are not familiar with the holiday tradition of a white elephant gift exchange, fear not. The name “white elephant” refers to the types of gifts typically exchanged during the game – odd, funny, and maybe a little bit useless.
Just like a white elephant. Apparently, the name originated with an ancient king of Siam who used to bestow gifts of rare albino elephants upon noblemen who displeased him in order to burden them with the upkeep of such a large animal.
While modern white elephant gifts are never so ill-intentioned, they are often a bit bizarre and funny which is what makes the game so much fun.
Most white elephant exchanges happen at holiday parties, where each guest is instructed in advance to bring a wrapped gift of their choice.
The wrapping paper is key so that players cannot tell what each present is. All the gifts are put in one big pile and each player is assigned a number at random.
Players then select a present from the pile according to their number and unwrap it or they can choose to “steal” an unwrapped present from another player as their turn.
If a player has their present stolen, they can immediately select a new wrapped present from the pile or steal a different present than the one that was just taken from them.
This goes on until every player has one gift, but a present cannot be stolen more than once per turn. There are a couple of limiting rules that can keep the exchange from going on forever.
Most exchanges place a limit of three exchanges per turn, meaning that after three swaps the turn immediately moves on to the next number.
Additionally, it is common to limit the number of times one present can be “stolen” to three to keep the game from lasting forever.
Best white elephant gifts under $30
If you miss playing with your food, this is the mug for you. This adorable ceramic mug is perfect for sports lovers and hot chocolate lovers alike, allowing you to slam dunk marshmallows into the mug between sips.
Even better, the company responsible for this childhood drink-wear dream is a family run business and donates 5% of their profits to research for dyslexia.
Feel good about your purchase while giving a gift sure to be a score at any holiday party.
Meet the perfect gift for the sleepy burrito-lovers among us. This blanket is ideal for anyone who has been woken up by their alarm clock and wished they could wrap themselves up in their bed instead of getting up for the day. This fun novelty blanket looks exactly like a tortilla, down to the little scorch marks on the exterior. Instead of extra guac, ask for extra cozy this holiday and let your friends and family live out their burrito dreams in this 60-inch diameter throw blanket.
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Nothing is sadder than a forgotten mug of coffee left to go cold. Be the change you wish to see in the world and give the greatest gift you’ve never heard of: a miniature electric coffee mug warmer, designed to reheat even the chilliest of mugs and restore warmth to the bleakest of days at the office.
Desk-sized and ceramic safe, this warmer is portable and perfect for anyone who spends their day at a desk and has a bad habit of letting their hot beverages go cold.
Popcorn isn’t just for the movies anymore with this convenient contraption that makes perfectly popped popcorn within minutes.
Cute enough to sit out on a counter and efficient enough to satisfy any popcorn craving, this is the perfect gift for the snackaholics and movie lovers among us.
Electric and easy to operate, this gift brings the movie theater home and lets you enjoy fresh-popped popcorn with the press of a button.
It’s hard not to be stressed, especially around the holidays, so give the gift of stress relief and laughter with the Smack-a-sack.
Suggestively shaped and featuring two stress balls inside, this gift is perfect for anyone who just needs to take their pent-up stress and aggression out on a sack.
This gift is also sure to get plenty of laughs at any white elephant party, which is a form of stress relief unto itself!
Do you know someone whose shower karaoke game could use an upgrade? Finally, a gift that can drown out the sound of singing in the shower while making anyone feel like they are putting on their own personal concert.
This waterproof speaker is Bluetooth compatible and can hang from anywhere in the shower, creating the immersive shower serenade you never knew you needed.
If you’ve ever wanted to turn someone into a party animal, now is your chance. This gigantic set of light up party favors includes everything from glasses to jelly rings to bracelets in an array of bright, flashing LED colors.
These are great to give as a gag gift at a holiday party or distribute as favors to turn your white elephant gift exchange into a real rager. Pour yourself another glass of eggnog and get the party started!
Another gift sure to get lots of laughs at any holiday party, this apron is perfect for the chef or barbeque grill master who wants to add new meaning to the phrase “Kiss the cook.” This gag gift lets anyone with dreams of cooking in their birthday suit live out their fantasy risk-free.
Just be wary of the type of party you bring this gift to – your office holiday party may not be the place!
This gift puts the “mini” in mini-golf and lets you hone your putting skills while on the toilet. Talk about multitasking!
Whether or not you are among golf lovers, this gift is sure to get plenty of laughs at any holiday party and is the perfect remedy for bathroom boredom.
Featuring a tiny putting green to go with the miniature club, ball, and hole, there is no caddy required for this solo game of golf. Getting a hole in one, one way or another has never been so easy.
Whether you are working from home or have a late-night Netflix habit, this tasteful bamboo lap desk is something nearly anyone can use which makes it the perfect gift for any holiday party.
With adjustable legs and a collapsible tabletop, this portable desk can hold a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or even breakfast in bed on a lazy Sunday morning.
The best part is that this small wonder is available for less than $30 – so inexpensive, you might just have to buy one for yourself too!
This set of two-pint freezer gel pint glasses is the perfect addition to any host’s bar set up. The glasses are double-walled plastic with freezer gel on the inside, so they can be frozen beforehand and keep a pint of the beer colder much longer than a regular glass can.
These are a great gift for anyone who enjoys a beer on game day or takes pride in their home bar set up, sure to class up any pint of beer while keeping things chill.
No refrigerator magnet collection is complete without a set of cute little dog butts to hold up the assortment of holiday cards and grocery lists on display.
This set of six magnets includes the backside of a pug, a Scottie, a dalmatian, a poodle, a golden retriever, and a little fire hydrant for when the magnets need to relieve themselves.
Perfects for pet lovers and non-pet lovers alike, this adorable set of magnets is sure to get plenty of laughs at any gift exchange.
Whiles’mores purists will say that the only authentic way to make s’ mores is over a campfire, most would agree that microwave s’ mores are the next best thing.
This handy little contraption makes microwave s’ mores a much less messy ordeal, compressing them gently to prevent any marshmallow leakage and producing perfect s’ mores in less than 30 seconds!
This is the ideal gift for anyone who misses the campfires of summer and is hoping to recreate the experience of roasted marshmallows from the comfort of their kitchen.
This gift is the perfect way to get a holiday party started with a bit of karaoke! With Bluetooth compatibility, this microphone is the only thing you need for an impromptu karaoke session.
It can simultaneously play music while amplifying a singer’s voice and can even record if connected to a voice recording app! If you know a budding performer or a karaoke queen, this is a great holiday gift to give.
In the cold months of winter, give the gift of toasty fingers with these pocket-sized, rechargeable hand warmers.
These handy little contraptions feature three heat settings and are narrow enough to fit inside a pair of gloves or pockets to keep hands warm in any weather.
Even better, they help save money by replacing disposable hand warmers with a reusable and much more eco-friendly alternative!
If you have an aspiring bartender in your life, this is the ideal present to give them. This 14-piece stainless steel set features every tool a beginner bartender could need, including a cocktail strainer, a cocktail shaker, a double jigger, a set of pour spouts, and a bar spoon.
All available for less than $30! All of the tools are professional grade, meaning you can finally experience a bar-quality cocktail from the comfort of your own home this holiday season.
Whether or not you approve of the 49th President of the United States, there is no mistaking the comedic potential of the Commander in Chief’s infamous fluffy hairdo.
Finally, with new footwear technology, The Donald’s flowing blond locks can be worn on your feet and peek out over the top of a pair of winter boots.
This three-pack of Donald Trump-themed socks is sure to get laughs from any recipient and become a staple in any wardrobe.
Wireless charging stations are increasingly popular for their convenience and the way they force a user to put their phone down while it charges, unlike traditional chargers which allow for near-constant use.
The only downside is that most wireless chargers can only charge phones. This gift is the solution, enabling one to charge all of their devices simultaneously.
Even better, this model is compatible with both Apple and Android products, making it a truly versatile present!
Fans of Bob Clark’s 1983 holiday hit A Christmas Story will love this miniature reference to the film’s famous leg lamp.
Available for less than $20, this novelty present is sure to make anyone smile. Great for children and adults alike, it comes with a replaceable bulb included and features real tassels along the edge of the lampshade. Brighten up any white elephant party with a gift made to last for many Christmases to come.
Save your friends and family some extra cash this holiday season with a 3D neck massager. This portable massager fits around the back of the neck and gently massages it on all sides, helping to relieve pain and tension that builds up from spending your days in front of a computer or slouched in a chair.
Never has relief been so affordable, ensuring the recipient of this gift will thank you and, if you’re lucky, let you borrow their massager to try out for yourself.
There is no better present than a good night’s sleep and finally, you can give that gift with a white noise machine.
This machine features 24 soothing ambient noise settings as well as an adjustable, calming glow that can add to the ambiance of a bedroom.
For less than $30, this high-quality device can significantly improve sleep quality by drowning out excess noise.
For under $30, this gift is a great addition to any aromatherapy fanatic’s diffuser collection or the perfect introduction to the wide world of essential oils.
This beautiful 3D glass design diffuser holds up to 120 mL of water and can turn any room into a day at the spa for up to a three-hour run time.
With the right essential oils, this aromatherapy device can elevate moods and energy levels all day long, making it a present to remember.
Revive the lost art of breakfast with this gorgeous 8-inch diameter waffle maker. Available in three colors, this waffle iron produces perfectly crispy waffles in minutes and is sure to brighten anyone’s morning.
This present is a real win-win if you can convince the recipient to make you waffles. Even better, this press can also be used for paninis, hash browns, quesadillas, or just about any other food that can be flattened and crisped on both sides. Truly the give that keeps on giving!
No matter what your gift-giving style or budget is, this list of white elephant gift exchange gifts under $30 has something for everyone.
The gifts range from thoughtful to useful to just plain silly, ensuring you can pick the right gift for any occasion and establish your reputation as an expert gift giver.
And who knows, at a white elephant party you might just be lucky enough to end up with your own gift by the end of the exchange! Get a gift you’d be happy to receive without breaking the bank to have a truly happy holiday.