10 white elephant gifts under $40 that people will actually like

10 white elephant gifts under $40 that people will actually like

In case you’ve never attended one or are otherwise unfamiliar with the phrase, a white elephant gift exchange is when folks at a party swap silly, impractical gifts that serve as entertainment for the evening rather than something meaningful or expensive.

The term reportedly stems from the King of Siam (now Thailand) gifting courtiers who displeased him with a real white elephant so that they might be financially ruined by the upkeep of this extravagant gift. While it remains unproven and argued among historians, it morphed into the light-hearted activity we know and love today and thus continues each year at office parties, classroom gift exchanges, and other events around the holidays.

Below, we’ve taken the guesswork out of what to buy should you be invited to such a soirée. Whoopie cushions and fake dog excrement remain popular picks, but we thought you might want to give away something a bit less grotesque, and maybe even something your gift recipient might actually use and enjoy!

Tooth with teeth Toothbrush or Pencil holder cup

Disturbing? Yes. But cute? Also yes. Send your gift exchange partner home with one of these goofy toothbrush holders to bring a smile to their face every morning when it’s time to brush.

Radiant Artifacts

Mermaker Burritos Tortilla Blanket 2.0

Buy this for the burrito-loving friend who can’t stay warm and first they’ll laugh (because human burrito, of course), then they’ll be comforted by this blanket’s incredible softness and warmth.


Bluetooth Banana Phone

There will never be a time in history when talking into a banana like it’s a telephone isn’t funny, so why not let your friend actually talk into a banana phone? Imagine the laughs they’ll get every time someone calls!

Uncommon Goods

Chia Pet Bob Ross with Seed Pack

The Chia Pet is a classic gag gift, and for good reason: You have a heart laugh at the goofy picture on the box, then you take it home and actually enjoy growing your own bit of greenery. Stick to a fun and universally beloved character like Bob Ross if the gift exchange is blind.

Chia Pet

Nicholas Cage Coloring Book

Coloring for adults has been trendy for years thanks to the relaxing, meditative state it can give us as a break from screen time or any other stressors in daily life. Amp up the humor with this Nicholas Cage take on the activity, featuring 60 pages of the brilliant actor’s most iconic roles ranging from his turn as a deranged terrorist in Face/Off to a smooth-talking modern cowboy type in Wild At Heart.

Kuwahara Iemitsu

Bears vs Babies by Exploding Kittens - A Monster-Building Card Game

This family-friendly game is great for anyone who likes to build “monstrous bears who eat horrible babies,” aka complete the purpose of the game. It’s ridiculous and over-the-top, and it’s sure to bring a chuckle and a good time to anyone who opens it.

Exploding Kittens

Animal Mouse Pad

This gift is a gag without being vulgar, and too cute to deny. The little raised butt on this pig offers a nice resting spot for your wrist while you’re scrolling, and you’ll smile every time you look down and see that lovable little snout staring back at you.


How to Swear Around the World

Everybody wishes they were a little more well-traveled, right? Give them a reasonable facsimile of feeling so by teaching them to curse in almost every language with this book containing essential phrases, phonetic pronunciation, and fantastic illustrations to let the swearer know just how obscene they’re getting.

Jay Sacher, Toby Triumph (Illustrator)

Squirt Lighter

Imagine this: You’re out for drinks with some friends, everyone’s had a few too many, and someone asks for a lighter then gets a hilariously rude awakening when the lighter hits them in the face with a bit of water. That’s the kind of good time you’re gifting someone when you drop this in the pile at your next gag gift exchange.


Mini Wacky Inflatable Tube Man 17in

As silly as this little guy is, there’s also something very cute and charming about his presence. Whoever opens him up will certainly have a conversation starter to display!

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