Picks

The Absolute Best White Elephant Gifts Under $25

Gifts that are both entertaining and useful.

assorted white elephant gifts
Photo: Sarah Kobos

By Dorie Chevlen
Wirecutter Staff

There’s technically no winner at a white elephant gift exchange, but the most successful ones see everyone leaving with a gift that’s not only entertaining but also, ideally, useful. At Wirecutter, we’re obsessed with finding the best stuff for any occasion, so for this guide we asked staffers to recommend the most hilarious, Yankee-swap-worthy gifts that made them smile. We think they’ll make you smile, too.

A calming mug

Bob Ross Heat Changing Mug
Photo: BobRoss

Bob Ross Heat Changing Mug

This would be a good gift for, um, everyone! I think we all need a little more Bob Ross in our lives. A peaceful cup of coffee + Bob Ross = instant zen. —Doug Mahoney, senior staff writer

Terrifying taxidermy

Crap Taxidermy book
Photo: Penguin Random House

Crap Taxidermy

I love animals, and for the most part, taxidermy both freaks me out and makes me sad. Good lord this book has given me a new perspective on how truly terrible it can be—which means I now appreciate the art of taxidermy when it’s done right. It’s the perfect weird gift to give to your weirdest friend. —Medea Giordano, assistant updates editor

Dramatic disses

Shakespearean Insults 2020 Calendar
Photo: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Shakespearean Insults 2020 Calendar

As a former English major and eternal rampallian, I’ve long admired the Bard’s colorful and creative insults. This calendar has 365 of the best of them so that, should your honor ever be challenged, you’ll be ready to tell that “threadbare juggler” or “poisonous bunch-backed toad” just what a “lump of foul deformity” he is. —Dorie Chevlen, Wirecutter contributor

Magnetized planters

GoodsmithShop Circle Air Plant Magnet
Photo: GoodsmithShop/Etsy

GoodsmithShop Circle Air Plant Magnet

Artist Savannah Cotter’s Circle Air Plant Magnets are the polar opposite of the kitschy and boozy gifts you’d usually find at a white elephant exchange. They’re stylish and refined, and they will attract anyone with an eye for design. This planter has a powerful magnet on its back (though you can request it without), so you can stick it on your fridge, filing cabinet, or other metal surface. And it comes in a variety of colors and wood finishes. Plus, since this is an air plant, it’s at least a little hard to kill. —Tim Barribeau, editor

Full of hot air

Presto PopLite Hot Air Corn Popper
Photo: Presto

Presto PopLite Hot Air Corn Popper

Everyone loves popcorn. If your friends don’t, then this popcorn maker will change their minds. And if it doesn’t, frankly, better to know now and make new friends. —Dorie Chevlen, Wirecutter contributor

Game of thrones

Squatty Potty The Original Bathroom Toilet Stool
Photo: Squatty Potty

Squatty Potty The Original Bathroom Toilet Stool

My dear friends Julie Ann and Nathan have hosted a huge white elephant party every year for the past decade, and last year’s most popular gift was by far the Squatty Potty. This was stolen the maximum number of times until it ended up in my arms, where I triumphantly carried it around for the rest of the party, enjoying the wistful stares and regretful comments from other attendees who lamented their lack of strategy around this pooptastic present. My Squatty Potty holds a place of honor not only in my heart but in my bathroom, where it causes me to smile and think of those friends at least once a day. —Nancy Redd, staff writer

Taco gift card

Taco Bell Gift Card
Photo: Taco Bell

Taco Bell Gift Card

The Taco Bell Gift Card strikes a good balance of utility, price, and humor. It doesn’t take up a lot of space, it’s consumable (not quite literally), and it’s easily regifted should the recipient not be one to “think outside the bun.” This gift may appeal to college students, coworkers, or pretty much anyone who likes to “Live Más.”
—Gustave Gerhardt, lead engineer

Mondo wine glass

Big Betty Wine Glass
Photo: Big Betty

Big Betty Wine Glass

Finally, a glass fit for a proper serving. I’m sure there will be people at your white elephant gift exchange who think this is a joke, and you can laugh along as if it were. But it’s not. We all know this is how much wine we want in one sitting. —Dorie Chevlen, Wirecutter contributor

Dating by the stars

Sextrology: The Astrology of Sex and the Sexes
Photo: Starsky + Cox

Sextrology: The Astrology of Sex and the Sexes

If I tried to count the number of partners I have accosted with photos from Sextrology: The Astrology of Sex and the Sexes to prove or disprove our compatibility, it would take me days, weeks, even longer than it has already taken me to write this blurb. Thanks to Starsky and Cox, I have ignored the texts of a Gemini who hadn’t paid for dinner in weeks, and I’ve broken up with a Sagittarius over beers (leaving in a booze-soaked T-shirt, unfortunately). I recommend this highly researched and damn-near clairvoyant book for anyone who’s dating a lot, dating a little, or even considering dating on the messy plane that is our human existence. —Justin Krajeski, staff writer

For Keanu fans

The Evolution of Keanu Reeves T-shirt
Photo: Teepublic

The Evolution of Keanu Reeves T-shirt

What do you call a T-shirt featuring the last actor unmarred by public scandal? Keanu Short-sleeves! Whether your friends are more sci-fi-oriented (hello, Matrix Keanu), love a good rom-com (hello, Always Be My Maybe, Keanu), or want to cry their eyes out (hello, My Own Private Idaho Keanu), there is a Keanu on this shirt for each of them. —Dorie Chevlen, Wirecutter contributor

Big mitts

Fred & Friends Bear Hands Oven Mitts
Photo: Fred & Friends

Fred & Friends Bear Hands Oven Mitts

Imagine this: You’re baking cookies with your friend and the oven timer chimes. You joyously rush to the oven to retrieve your treats when your friend reminds you, “The tray is hot! Don’t touch it with your bare hands!” You look at your friend with a chaotic smile before dramatically turning around to show off your bear-paw oven mitts. “Bare hands? What about BEAR hands?!” Immediately, you get a promotion, meet your soulmate, and achieve world peace. —Nikki Duong, video producer

Fleabag swag

Fleabag Magnets/Coasters
Photo: scraft1980/Etsy

Fleabag Magnets/Coasters

Whether your friends are fans of the multi-Emmy-winning show or merely Hot Priest enthusiasts (as we all are), these handcrafted magnets and coasters will certainly liven up their holiday season. —Haley Sprankle, updates writer

Poo-fect office companions

Poo-Pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray, In a Pinch Pack
Photo: Poo-pourri

Poo-Pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray, In a Pinch Pack

Pooping in the comfort of your own home is one of the greatest joys in life. But when nature calls at an inopportune moment—say, in a small, poorly ventilated office bathroom—it helps to have a trick up your sleeve. Spritzing a few doses of Poo-Pourri into the toilet bowl before you go helps mask lingering odors, and (though it can’t prevent nuclear meltdowns) offers some peace of mind. Poo-Pourri’s on-the-go set—including scents like citrus, lavender vanilla, and hibiscus—would make a practically poo-fect white elephant gift. —Sarah Witman, staff writer

Eyeshadow by the slice

I Heart Revolution Tasty Pizza Palette
Photo: I Heart Revolution

I Heart Revolution Tasty Pizza Palette

I own this, and all of my friends envy it. It’s a silly concept for a makeup palette with very versatile, usable warm colors. And the shadows are well pigmented for a palette at this price. —Sarah Saril, deals writer

A Christmas miracle

Die Hard: The Authorized Coloring and Activity Book
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Die Hard: The Authorized Coloring and Activity Book

You asked for miracles, I give you Die Hard: The Authorized Coloring and Activity Book. This 80-page masterpiece will have party guests running barefoot through broken glass just to get a glimpse of the hilarious drawings, puzzles, and other activities inside, all of which are based on the greatest Christmas movie of all time. Strap a pack of colored pencils or crayons to the back, and you’ve got yourself the perfect white elephant gift. Yippee-ki-yay! —Rachel Cericola, staff writer

For the sushi lover

Rainbow Socks Sushi Sox Box
Photo: Rainbow Socks

Rainbow Socks Sushi Sox Box

Socks are an objectively good present—those who disagree have never pulled on a pair fresh from the dryer on a cold day. And though a pair of plain crew socks would probably be the least desired present at a white elephant, socks in the shape of sushi rolls? That’s a different matter entirely. With cute designs that are fun without being garish, these sushi socks manage to look as good wrapped up in packaging as they do on your feet. —Tim Barribeau, editor

A spicy tee

Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce T-shirt
Photo: Sriracha

Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce T-shirt

This T-shirt was a hot-ticket item at my family’s white elephant gift exchange last year. I picked it because I thought it was funny—and I love to put Sriracha on pretty much anything. But I actually wear it a lot. It’s super-comfy to sleep in, and sometimes I even wear it out of the house tucked into a pair of high-waisted jeans. —Sarah Witman, staff writer

Downward gnome

Juvale Miniature Yoga Gnome Set
Photo: Juvale

Juvale Miniature Yoga Gnome Set

Gnomes are not diamond necklaces. They’re not a Nintendo Switch. They won’t dazzle or do cool tricks. They don’t do anything, really. And such is their magic. Unless your white elephant giftee is the office scrooge, gnomes are guaranteed to put a smile on their face. These little yogi garden dwellers go one step further by offering some inner peace, too. Hang them on a window-sill planter, as I do with mine. Let them chaturanga dandasana on your bookshelf. Encourage them to focus on their breathing. Namaste and happy holidays. —Christina Colizza, research editor