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Best White Elephant gift ideas under $32 that everyone will love

From socks and candles to games and mocktails, we’ve rounded up the perfect presents for the holiday season

Amber Raiken
Wednesday 27 December 2023 15:33 GMT
Whether you opt for fun, practical or pampering presents, these are bound to go down a storm at any White Elephant gift exchange
Whether you opt for fun, practical or pampering presents, these are bound to go down a storm at any White Elephant gift exchange (The Independent)

Whether it’s at a friend’s party or among your family on Christmas morning, a White Elephant gift exchange has become a beloved holiday tradition in the US, and we’ve got the perfect line-up of gift ideas that will make sure you all have a very merry Christmas.

Unlike Secret Santa, where you surprise one person with a specific present, a White Elephant gift exchange involves buying a gift without knowing who the recipient will be.

The game starts with each player adding one wrapped gift to a pile of presents. Each person then draws a number, which indicates when it will be their turn to pick a gift. After the first player picks from the pile, the rest follow, with the opportunity to either steal a gift from someone or pick a new present to unwrap. Once a present has been stolen three times, that third person is then the rightful owner of the gift.

Since everyone walks away with a gift, it’s best to set a limit on how much to spend per present. With affordability in mind, we’ve put together a list of ideas for presents that everyone will love, from a popcorn maker to a scented candle to a moisturizer. Keep scrolling for our review of the best White Elephant gift ideas under $32.

How we tested

When reviewing, we considered how practical and affordable each item was, while also thinking about the quality. For the item to be included in our review, we took into account that it had to be a product that each player could make use of. Of course, we fully tested each item ourselves, to make sure it would make the perfect present.

Just a few of the White Elephant gift ideas we put to the test (Amber Raiken)

The best White Elephant gift ideas for 2023 are:

  • Best White Elephant gift for self-care – Oui Beauty ultra moisturizer: $26,
  • Best budget White Elephant gift – We’re Not Really Strangers honest dating expansion pack: $12,
  • Best fun White Elephant gift – Ecolution’s micro-pop popcorn popper, with 3-in-1 lid: $15.99,
  • Best non-alcoholic White Elephant gift – Guinep non-alcoholic ocean mineral cocktail, 12 pack: $32,
  • Best game for friends – The Movie Misquote Game by Little White Lies: $15.75,

Oui Beauty ultra moisturizer: $26,

(Oui Beauty)

Best: White Elephant gift for self-care

Rating: 5/5

When it’s extremely cold outside, our skin can get pretty dry. With that in mind, why not gift a skincare product that everyone can make use of? Oui Beauty’s ultra moisturizer is one of our favorite gifts, especially given its reasonable price. The product is specifically made for dry skin, and during testing, it made our face feel fresh and clean. It also gave off a subtle lemon scent, which we were a fan of.

Buy now

We’re Not Really Strangers honest dating expansion pack: $12,

(We’re Not Really Stangers)

Best: Budget White Elephant gift

Rating: 4.5/5

We’re Not Really Strangers is known for its card games that help you and your peers open up to each other. The company’s honest dating expansion pack is also the perfect activity for a date. When testing the game, we discovered it’s best for a third or fourth date, since it asks non-surface level questions such as: “What’s something you’ve been anxious about lately?” It’s a fun way to break the ice and get to know someone better.

Buy now

Ecolution micro-pop popcorn popper: $15.99,


Best: Fun White Elephant gift

Rating: 5/5

In hopes of saving money during the holidays, you may be looking to purchase something that’s not only fun but also offers bang for your buck. Ecolution’s popcorn popper is easy to use – measure your kernels using the lid before putting them into the popper. You then add your butter to the top of the lid and place the popper in the microwave for two and a half to three minutes. When we took it out of the microwave, nearly every popcorn kernel had popped nicely. During testing, we found that while the butter melted into the popcorn, it didn’t get onto every piece, so your giftee may need to add more butter when serving.

Buy now

Glow Recipe mini watermelon pore-tight toner: $15,

(Glow Recipe)

Best: White Elephant skincare gift

Rating: 4.5/5

Glow Recipe is known for its fruit-based scent skincare products, from watermelon to strawberry to guava. The brand’s mini-sized products are the perfect way to introduce something new to your friend’s skincare routine. When testing this toner, we found that our face felt very hydrated and moisturized. The product also had a nice watermelon scent, which didn’t linger too long. However, it’s important to note it takes a bit of time – at least two weeks – to notice the pore-reducing effects.

Buy now

Guinep non-alcoholic ocean mineral cocktail, 12 pack: $32,


Best: Non-alcoholic White Elephant gift

Rating: 4.5/5

Despite the fact a cup of eggnog is a beloved drink during the holiday season, not everyone is necessarily a fan of alcohol. With that in mind, there’s an opportunity to gift a unique beverage that goes beyond a regular soda. Guinep is known for its mocktails, with this offering introducing the Caribbean guinep fruit to a zero calorie beverage. In terms of taste, we loved that it is a bit sweeter than flavored seltzers. It also has a refreshing aftertaste that gives off the sweet flavors.

Buy now

Brooklyn Candle Studio Montana forest gold travel candle: $18,

(Brooklyn Candle Studio)

Best: Candle

Rating: 5/5

When lit, this travel candle gives off a very fresh smell, intended to be reminiscent of the airy mountains in Montana thanks to the scents of pine trees and fresh grass, which we loved. However, the fragrance isn’t necessarily as strong as larger candles, so it won’t make every part of a big room smell like the great outdoors.

Buy now

The Movie Misquote Game by Little White Lies: $15.75,

(Little White Lies)

Best: Game for friends

Rating: 4/5

With The Movie Misquote Game, you and your friends will have the opportunity to reminisce about some iconic films. The game starts with one player picking a card with a movie quote before everyone adds a card from their own stack to finish the quote. When we played, the person with the most amusing line to finish the quote was typically the winner. It was also a good chance to get everyone laughing, which makes for a fun icebreaker in any situation.

Buy now

DW Home relax lavender and chamomile reed diffuser: $16,

(DW Home)

Best: Diffuser

Rating: 5/5

Reed diffusers are often the way to go if you want a specific scent to fill a room at all times. When testing this product, we loved that both the lavender and chamomile scents were very noticeable, with the relaxing aroma traveling throughout the entire space.

Buy now

Ombrato leftover yarn socks, set of two: $18,


Best: Socks

Rating: 5/5

Although socks may seem like a bit of a boring present to include in a White Elephant gift exchange, who’s to say they won’t be a fan favorite among your pals – especially during the winter? For its leftover yarn socks, Ombrato specifically turns to overstock yarn that would be tossed away if not used. There are different types of yarn used to make each pair of socks, so no set is the same. The socks are also extremely warm and can be pulled up to the bottom half of your calf, so they’re perfect to wear with your snow boots this season and beyond.

Buy now

Burt’s Bees freshly picked lip balm, four-pack: $11.99,

(Burt’s Bees)

Best: Chapstick

Rating: 5/5

During the cold months, a good lip balm is essential to prevent your lips from getting chapped. As the temperature continues to drop in December, anyone who takes part in a White Elephant gift exchange would make good use of this four-pack. The set includes the brand’s original beeswax lip balm, in addition to three other flavors: watermelon, cucumber mint, and sweet mandarin. During testing, each of the balms made our lips feel soft and moisturized. The scent and flavors of the three lip balms – particularly the watermelon version – are a bit strong, which may not be ideal for everyone.

Buy now

Stay Forever diamond pink Turkish towel: $24,

(Stay Forever)

Best: Bathroom towel

Rating: 4.5/5

During any White Elephant gift exchange, items for the home are great options. Stay Forever – a small business located in New York City – sells a variety of necessities for your home, including this Turkish towel. It’s soft and light so feels gentle when drying the skin. However, some people may prefer a towel that is on the thicker side, especially after taking a hot shower during a cold month.

Buy now

The verdict: White Elephant gift ideas

When buying items for a White Elephant gift exchange, you want to make sure they’re something everyone could make use of, which could make holiday shopping a little challenging. However, Oui Beauty’s ultra Moisturizer is ideal, as it’s a practical gift offering a little TLC. For something a little more fun, opt for Ecolution’s micro-pop popcorn popper or Guinep’s non-alcoholic ocean mineral cocktail.

Want more inspiration? We’ve reviewed the best waterproof Bluetooth speakers

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