The White Elephant In The Room

By Julia Dwyer Sullivan  •  December 04, 2014

Hello friends. Hope you’re all having a fantastic December! We’re heading into my favorite part of the year: The Holidays. The next few weeks are going to be filled with all of my favorite things: parties and presents and people and Pinot Grigio! Perfection.


But as much as I love the warm celebrations, there has always been one holiday custom that chills me to the bone. In life, they say your success is on the other side of your fear. If that’s true, my success lives at the tail end of a White Elephant.


I’m not sure if I can explain to you how terrified I am when it comes to White Elephant or Yankee Swap scenarios. I try very hard to be funny have been told that I’m very funny and I have a rep to protect. My main issue with these “good-natured traditions” is that - while it’s extremely hard to bring the best present, you can wind up bringing a mediocre present faster than you can say “bottle of wine!”


Let’s go over the only three ways you can win Best Present for your White Elephant gift. 1. You can bring the funniest present (a lot of pressure). 2. You can bring the most useful present. (Snoozefest). 3. You can blatantly disregard the game’s budget and buy something way more valuable than what anyone else will bring (which will earn you both the ire and admiration of your loved ones).


Because I am a torturous combination of both cool and poor, I’ve decided to focus on Door #1. For months now, I’ve been bookmarking potentially hilarious White Elephant gifts under $30. Now, no matter what, I can guarantee you that I’m going to be happier than the lucky duck who will pull #1 out of the hat this year. Take a look at a few of the White Elephant contenders I’ve found:


Think Geek has you covered. I mean, how’s about a real, live and practical Flux Capacitor for your car? This blast from the past not only looks fresh to death, but it has two USB ports to support all of your pieces of modern day tech. Or if your gang likes to keep things spicy, consider ThinkGeek’s super hot pepper trio, “That Escalated Quickly.” Nothing is more fun at a family party than trying to burn off each other’s taste buds.


If your relatives love the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas as much as my family does (not possible), you might consider bringing Watershow Speakers from Spencer’s Gifts to your next gift exchange. Simply connect the speakers to an iPhone, iPad or laptop – and you’ll be watching a beautiful water show any time you want. You can bet on it!


And if you’ve got time on your hands and an inside family joke in your heart, consider making something personal and unique. CafePress offers a lot of reasonably priced, customizable gifts – including these eco-friendly water bottles. So if your uncle has a catch phrase you all like to repeat after a few drinks, consider stealing the show with a well-prepared present.



If you’ll excuse me, I have a few hysterical trinkets to wrap in oversized boxes so as to confuse others. I think 2015 is going to be a great year - the year I conquered the White Elephant. It hasn’t been pretty, but I’m ready to charge ahead! With just a few clicks of the mouse, I’ll be winning Best Gift faster than you can say “scratch tickets.”


So what about you? What’s the funniest White Elephant gift you’ve ever witnessed (or brought yourself)? 


Julia Dwyer Sullivan Julia Dwyer Sullivan Julia Dwyer Sullivan graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Dramatic Writing. She now works as a starving artist (she ate the degree years ago).

Leave a comment