White Elephant Gift Exchange Goes Vintage With Antique Gifts

Antique gifts add a unique twist to the traditional White Elephant game.

Lauren Thomann is a business owner, antique dealer, and freelance writer/editor with 16 years of experience and a B.A. in English and Linguistics. She specializes in antiques—mainly Victorian through Mid Century—antique jewelry, old house renovations, and lifestyle and home-related content. Click the link to learn more.
hands holding a wrapped gift for a gift swap game

A White Elephant gift exchange is a fun and lighthearted way to celebrate the holiday season with friends and family. In this gift swap (also called the Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa), participants bring a wrapped gift to the party and take turns choosing gifts from a collection of presents. The goal is to either choose a gift that you like or steal a gift that has already been opened by someone else.

If you’re looking for a thoughtful update to this classic, consider making all participants buy only antique or vintage items. These items not only have a rich history and charm, but they can also be found for under $25.

Rules

Not sure how to play the White Elephant gift exchange? In this section, we’ll go over the basic rules and guidelines. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. First, gather a group of friends or coworkers who are interested in participating in the gift exchange.
  2. Each person brings one wrapped gift to the exchange, with the value of the gift being within a pre-determined price range. In this case, you’ll tell guests that they need to buy an antique or vintage item that costs less than $25.
  3. On the day of the party, have everyone draw a number to determine the order in which they will choose gifts.
  4. The first person selects a gift and opens it for everyone to see.
  5. The next person has the option to either choose a new gift from the remaining pile or steal the opened gift from the first person.
  6. If a gift is stolen, the person who originally had the gift can either choose a new gift or steal another opened gift.
  7. This continues until every person has a gift.
  8. The game can end here, or for added fun, the last person can choose to steal a gift from anyone in the group.
  9. Enjoy your new (or stolen) gift!

Gift Ideas

It can be tricky to find a gift that is both affordable and fun. Check out these creative and unique gift ideas for the antique-themed exchange. From retro kitchen gadgets to vintage books and decor, these gifts will surely impress and delight.

Gag Gifts

  • An antique hair curling iron or straightening iron
  • An old-fashioned butter churn
  • An antique manual typewriter
  • A vintage sewing machine
  • An old-fashioned popcorn maker
  • An old-fashioned rotary phone
  • A vintage novelty kitchen gadget, such as an egg slicer or apple peeler
  • A collection of antique buttons or trinkets
  • A set of vintage false teeth or glasses
  • An antique novelty toy, such as a wooden yo-yo or hand-crank music box
  • A vintage can opener or meat grinder
  • An old-fashioned crank-style ice cream maker
  • A collection of antique keys or locks
  • An antique bed warmer or hot water bottle
  • A vintage hat rack or umbrella stand
  • A set of antique dolls or figurines
  • An old-fashioned board game or puzzle with missing pieces.

Regular Gifts

  • A set of vintage china or silverware
  • An antique clock or watch
  • An old-fashioned lamp or light fixture
  • A set of vintage glasses or coasters
  • A vintage record player
  • An antique book or journal
  • A collection of vintage postcasrds
  • An collectible antique book
  • A piece of vintage jewelry
  • A set of vintage playing cards or board games
  • An antique tea set
  • A collection of antique coins or stamps
  • A vintage hat or handbag
  • An old-fashioned camera or film projector
  • A set of vintage linens or handkerchiefs
  • An antique musical instrument
  • A vintage board game or puzzle
  • A collection of antique maps or prints

Where to Shop

Check out these top spots for unique and interesting finds. From antique malls to online marketplaces, these locations have something for everyone.

  • Find vintage postcards, glassware, and quirky vintage gag gifts on sites like eBay for less than $25.
  • Search for beautiful sets of silverware, antique jewelry, and watches on sites like Etsy or at antique shops for under $25.
  • Search for rare and collectible books on sites like AbeBooks for under $25.
  • Look for unusual vintage items at antique malls, flea markets, and on Facebook Marketplace.

No matter what type of gift you choose, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the gift exchange with your friends and family. Happy holidays!

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