Knowing what the best white elephant gift is understanding your group well. The best white elephant gifts are ones that have the highest desirability. They are the ones that people will want to steal above all others.
To create that sense of desire requires an innate understanding of the people at your white elephant event.
Something like a 1.75 liter bottle of Bulleit Whiskey (going for $30), for instance, might be gone in a heartbeat at white elephant gift exchange being thrown at a startup. That same bottle, however, doesn’t have the same velocity at my place. Instead, where there are a bunch of, mostly, non-drinking gamers, something like a wired Nintendo Switch Controller would quickly get locked down.
Time and time again, lottery scratchers were locked in at family white elephant gift exchanges (where there were older family members), but in exchanges with younger people, they wanted more of a sure thing (in terms of value).
To think that one present will win them all is a bit naive. To just bring something that you would want is more strategic, but you can still do so much more to increase the excitement of the game and come back with something even better.
To find the best white elephant gift, first think about what type of people will be at the event. The group may be significantly diverse where this may be difficult to determine. There should, generally, be a way the crowd leans though. Maybe the group is comprised more of people who love playing Monopoly or of barefoot runners. Understanding the majority interest of the group is key to finding that white elephant gift that participants will clamor over.
After you’ve figured out which way the group leans, look into the budget for the event. You’ll want to find a gift that respects the budget, but at the same time appears more valuable than it really is. Some items that I’ve found are great in this way of low cost, high value are some appliances. An electric chopper that’s $13.99 for instance, leaves room for you to add other things in a $20 gift exchange. The upside, is people will already view the chopper as worth more than the $20. Anything else that’s added to a gift with the chopper in it will be seen as gravy.
Use the information about which way your group leans to figure out what will be seen as more valuable. Remember that a gaming controller will be significantly more value to a gamer than people who don’t have a gaming console.
If all else fails, look for gifts that are large. Large wrapped gifts are harder for people to ignore (so they’ll get opened sooner than later). Large gifts are also more difficult to hide or for people to forget. A small necklace of with a spoon on one end will tend to get locked down more slowly than a giant yard of Twix.
Have any other tips you would recommend in terms of finding that amazing white elephant gift? Let us know!