The best white elephant gift ideas for 2023

According to legend, the King of Siam would give a white elephant to courtiers who had upset them. It was a far more devious punishment than simply having them executed. The recipient had no choice but to simply thank the king for such an opulent gift, knowing that they likely could not afford the upkeep for such an animal. It would inevitably lead them to financial ruin. This story is almost certainly untrue, but it has led to a modern holiday staple: the White Elephant gift exchange.

Getting a White Elephant gift right requires walking a very fine line. The goal isn’t to just buy something terrible and force someone to take it home with them. It should be useful or amusing enough that it won’t immediately end up in the trash. It also shouldn’t be easily tossed in a junk drawer and forgotten about. So here are a few suggestions that will not only get you a few chuckles, but will also make the recipient feel (slightly) burdened.

Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels

KFC Fire Starter Log by Enviro-Log

LDKCOK USB 2.0 Active Repeater Extension Cable

Galaxy Projector

Msraynsford Useless Machine 2.0

Lightsaber Chopsticks

MMX Marshmallow Crossbow

Banana Phone

Friendship Lamp


What is white elephant?

A white elephant gift exchange is a party game typically played around the holidays in which people exchange funny, impractical gifts.

How does white elephant work?

A group of people each bring one wrapped gift to the white elephant gift exchange, and each gift is typically of a similar value. All gifts are then placed together and the group decides the order in which they will each claim a gift. The first person picks a white elephant gift from the pile, unwraps it and their turn ends. The following players can either decide to unwrap another gift and claim it as their own, or steal a gift from someone who has already taken a turn. The rules can vary from there, including the guidelines around how often a single item can be stolen — some say twice, max. The game ends when every person has a white elephant gift.

Why is it called white elephant?

The term “white elephant” is said to come from the legend of the King of Siam gifting white elephants to courtiers who upset him. While it seems like a lavish gift on its face, the belief is that the courtiers would be ruined by the animal’s upkeep costs.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at 

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