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White elephant. Yankee swap. Secret Santa. Pollyanna. No matter what you call it, the gift exchange is a long-standing holiday tradition where families unwrap presents and laughs as they trade or steal each other’s trinkets.

History of the White Elephant Gift Exchange

A “white elephant” gift refers to an extravagant, impractical present. Legend has it that the King of Siam (now Thailand) would give out rare, albino elephants to fellow royals. We’re not suggesting you package up a pachyderm, but imagine your friends unwrapping a present they never thought they’d own. Today’s gift exchange of the same name involves unboxing unusual, random gifts like a game.

White Elephant Rules & How to Play

White elephant rules vary by gathering, but here are some of the most popular ways to play the white elephant game:

Trade & Steal: Each participant puts their wrapped gift under the tree, then takes a number. The person who drew 1 opens a present. The person who drew 2 can steal the first gift or open a new one. If your gift is stolen, you choose another gift. This continues up until the last person, who gets to choose between lots of opened gifts or one mystery box under the tree.

Set a Price Limit: Many groups choose to set a price limit to keep costs down and ensure everyone gets a similarly valued gift. View some ideas by price range below.

Theme It: While it’s great to have seemingly endless gift ideas, some folks narrow the ideas to a theme, such as Something You Can Eat, Items You Can Wear or Something Funny and Fun. The Hershey's Store can supply you with something for all of those categories!

Hershey-Themed White Elephant Gift Ideas

Hershey-Themed White Elephant Gift Ideas

White elephant gifts should be goofy, yet desirable enough that someone would want to steal it. Trust us. It makes it more fun! Think one pound of HERSHEY’S KISSES candies. We usually reserve these for super fans because it takes commitment to consume them. But it’s certainly a gift that keeps on giving.

You can still give a great gift and stay under budget. Grab an inexpensive container like a jar or a stocking and fill it with an assortment of Hershey products. Here are a few ideas and price points:


White Elephant Gifts Under $20

  • Literally a whole basket of white elephants: REESE’S Peanut Butter White Elephant Candy
  • A cereal container filled with HERSHEY’S Miniatures Assortment
  • A movie night bundle with chocolate, sweets, microwave popcorn and soda
  • Extra Long TWIZZLERS Twists for long-time candy fans
  • HERSHEY’S POT OF GOLD Chocolates (almost as extravagant as a white elephant)

White Elephant Gifts Under $30

  • 6 bags of HERSHEY’S Chocolate baking chips in a variety of flavors
  • One pound of HERSHEY’S KISSES Milk Chocolate THE ULTIMATE KISS Candy
  • One pound of REESE’S Holiday Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  • HERSHEY’S Pajama Pants or REESE’S Pajama Pants
  • Candy Land Hershey, Collector’s Edition game

White Elephant Gifts Under $50

  • A candy-themed stocking for peanut butter lovers or mint chocolate lovers
  • HERSHEY’S FAVORITES Care Package, which includes 21 sweet treats
  • A DIY gift basket of Hershey’s products you can eat or wear

Virtual White Elephant Gift Exchange

Virtual White Elephant Gift Exchange

If you can’t celebrate the season in person this year, you can still host a lively holiday party with gift exchange from your laptop. Here's how you can host a virtual white elephant party:

  1. Set a date with your friends and wrap the perfect present.
  2. Use to enter everyone’s name ad determine the order for opening gifts.
  3. Hold the gifts up to the camera and let the first person choose one. At this virtual party, the gifter is also the unwrapper.
  4. The stealing is virtual so keep track of who “holds” each gift in between turns.
  5. The game continues until all presents are unwrapped. After the party, box up the gift you bought and mail it to its new home.

Another variation is using the randomizer before the party and sending a gift to a specific person. Everyone takes a turn unwrapping, then you can open the floor for trading!

Whatever your holiday traditions are, there’s always room for some chocolatey goodness!