White elephant parties are growing in popularity as the cost of goods soar, and buying individual gifts for all of your friends would require a lottery win. Let’s face it, it can be pretty expensive trying to be Santa to everyone. In case, you’ve never heard of it, a white elephant party is a type of gift exchange in which each guest brings a wrapped, usually gag or joke, gift to a gathering. The origin of the name comes from the idiom “a white elephant” which means an expensive and unnecessary gift, usually one that cannot be easily disposed of.
The problem with joke or gag gifts though is that they’re often useless, and moreover, ugly as hell. It’s funny the first time you participate but it doesn’t take long before you realize a large group of people just got together and burned a big ol’ pile of cash.
Last year, one of my besties decided to upscale the white elephant party, as only she could, by marrying it with a twist on Oprah’s Favourite Things. Everything Jodi touches is next level so while I can’t say you’ll nail this quite as well as she does, here’s a general outline of how to host your own Favourite Things White Elephant Party.
White Elephant Party ‘Favourite Things’ Invitations
Make sure to send out your invitations a few weeks in advance and explain all the parameters to your guests including price limits, that gifts should be wrapped but not tagged, and what you mean by favourite things. Our favourite things could be anything we loved over the last year, but you might want to go more niche focusing on only area like kitchen or beauty.
Food & Drinks
Jodi is the hostess with the mostess, so while our gathering was a potluck, our hostess went above and beyond. First a snack bar with light appetizers, finger foods, and signature drink was set up and ready to go upon our arrival. Depending on party size and budget, you may want to order a few platters of appetizers, or you can make a DIY charcuterie board. Don’t forget to include some festive beverages such as mimosas or sangria, or go with a signature drink like these Mistletoe Margaritas from Jennifer Valentyne.
Let the Game Begin
Place all the gifts in the centre of your circle or under the tree. We drew by name as to what order we would go in, and honestly this group really doesn’t care who goes first, we’re just all in. That being said perhaps your group is not as magnanimous so the best way is probably by number. Each person draws a number from a hat and then the person with the number one will choose a wrapped gift from the pile. The person with number two will then have the choice to choose a gift from the pile or take the gift that number one chose. This continues until everyone has chosen a gift. At the end of the game, each person will have the opportunity to trade their gift with anyone else in the group. To keep things fair, set a two-minute time limit to make the trade. Feel free to adjust this to your liking. For example, we only allowed a steal to happen once.
White Elephant Party Favours
As the party hostess, if you’re feeling extra generous, you can give out favours to your guests. These can be anything from homemade cookies to a nice scented candle. Jodi went with Paradigm Whisky Mallows (see below) and while our waistlines may not thank her, the rest of us does for introducing us to this insanely delicious treat.
A Favourite Things White Elephant Party is a great way to bring your friends or family together for a fun, budget friendly, and memorable celebration. With the right food, drinks, games, and favours, your Favourite Things White Elephant Party is sure to become an annual tradition.
So without further ado, here’s the full list of Favourite Things this year from our group of ten. There are some Amazon affiliate links in here so if you do order through here, I thank you in advance.
All of the 2022 Favourite Things
Jodi placed a wrapped box of these Paradigm Whisky Mallows on each plate. When I arrived home I cracked open the box and my daughter, my boyfriend, and I each tried one. I then proceeded to declare the rest of the box off limits because I suddenly didn’t feel like sharing. I would recommend buying more than one box of these.
Straight from Halifax, Nova Scotia these huge cookies with a crunchy exterior and gooey centre are quickly gaining a cult following. Believe me when I say there was some heavy hemming and hawing over stealing these.
Apparently these crackers are phenomenal alone, and excellent with boiled eggs or cheese.
Sweet nuts in a cluster. I mean, aside from the fact I got to write that last sentence, what could be better?
Yes, yes, we have Cadbury Milk Chocolate bars here in Canada but you’ll convince no one in my friend group that they taste the same as the ones from England. They’re simply better from England and we all know it.
Delicious on their own or with dip or cheese, these tortas are insanely good.
Just because someone is Italian doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be a connoisseur of olive oil. When you’re Italian and have ran a successful Italian food manufacturer and bakery for 30 years though, you are definitely a connoisseur of olive oil. Needless to say, this olive oil shot to the top of everyone’s list when it showed up as part of a gift.
Don’t look at me, I don’t know what to do with them either. I will figure it out though because they came with the olive oil above, and I trust the Sicilian lady.
I ended up stealing this gift from someone, based on this blanket. I now have a date planned with it for Boxing Day where I’m planning to throw on my coziest sweats, and then wrap myself in this Province of Canada sweatshirt blanket and watch RomComs all day. Heaven.
Maybe I’ve been hiding under a rock but up until last week I’d never heard of a USB Rechargeable lighter. Trust me when I say you want one. This handy little gadget means you’ll never have to worry about your candle lighter dying or running out of fuel again.
If Merry & Bright could be captured in a scent this would definitely be it. You’ll be sniffing for days with this delightful candle.
If you’re Canadian and you don’t have one or more of these faux fur throws in your house from Indigo, are you even Canadian? Despite the fact that these are an annual staple at Chapters, it never gets old and remains a favourite thing for all.
Okay, this one was cute because our friend group is Yin & Yang! Aside from that though, this candle smells heavenly, lit together or apart.
There are a lot of imitators out there when it comes to this classic holiday scent but Thymes nails it everythyme. See what I did there? Anyway, get the candle, or the diffuser, or any of the Frasier Fir product line and your house will smell heavenly. Another amazing inclusion from Linda at Design House.
Our girlfriend Linda works for designhome.ca, so needless to say, we trip over each other to snag her gift each year. As part of this year’s gift she included a Paddywax Yin & Yang Candle, Phat Cookies, a Fuck button, and these adorable Compendium Thoughtfulls that you can quietly slip into loved ones lunches, wallets, or bags so they are always reminded how much you love them. Small shameless plug, check out designhome.ca for a ton of amazing gift ideas. They are happy to direct you to any of the retailers they supply to.
BEAUTY AND SELF-CARE
I had only heard about ‘slugging’ last year and decided to give it a go. It was an absolute game changer for my skin during the winter, and kept the usual dry, cracking, despondent, when-will-this-eternal-winter-ever-end look from taking over my face. You can do this with straight old petroleum jelly, but after investigating for the best occlusive ointment, I settled on Egyptian Magic because the ingredients are like a little chef’s kiss on my face. I am in the second winter with one jar, so a little goes a long way.
It’s a vibrator but for your face. And it was chased after with a little lust because apparently my crew likes things that vibrate. Who knew?
We don’t bring shame to our game, we bring solutions. Peach fuzz irritates us all. Here’s the solution.
A little wine and a hot bath is the best way to unwind. Just be sure to add some bath salts for the spa experience at home.
I debated if this belonged in home, but settled on self-care and I honestly don’t feel I need to even elaborate as to why.
When this got opened the group collectively sat up and took notice. Not only do we like vibrating things, but apparently we like deep penetrating massages that don’t require us to reciprocate. Ahhhhhhh.
When your bestie recommends a book, you listen.
Booze, Because Of Course
If you’re from Ontario, then you know where to go. Check out the LCBO for these favourite finds except for the Madame De Rayne Sauternes which you can find on Vivino.ca.