Tuesday, December 7, 2010

White elephants

This weekend I'll attend two parties with White Elephant games. At one party I'm expected to bring the worst item imaginable, and at another party I'm expected to bring a gift for under $10. Matt and I always discuss is how "White Elephant" has various interpretations depending on the crowd. The dilemma we face is always unless we've been clearly told in advance to bring the world's worst gift, we don't want to give something nice and end up with a dud. Three years ago, when the party pickings were clearly slim, we wound up choosing our own gifts and feigned surprise when we opened them. We are highly practical gift givers and seekers.

In an effort to reduce your chances of getting a half-burned candle at your upcoming gift exchange, here's a list of some tried-and-true small gender-neutral gifts that have broad appeal:

A $10 bottle of wine. Even if someone doesn't drink, it's always nice to keep a bottle handy for guests. And $10 can get you a good bottle.

Movie tickets. You could buy them in bulk at Costco.

A Starbucks gift card. Boring? Perhaps. Utilitarian? Absolutely.
An iTunes gift card. It's so much fun to see a credit in our iTunes store account.

Non-perishable treats, like gourmet hot chocolate or pre-packaged chocolate-covered pretzels. (I believe chocolate-covered pretzels was one of the two gifts we brought three years ago and took back home with us.)

A Restaurant.com gift certificate or another pre-paid special through a site such as Groupon. Yes, the winner will have to inevitably spend money to get the deal, such as $50 worth of food for $25, but I'd be pretty excited if I opened that gift.

A magazine subscription. Find a cheap online deal, and have the winner give you her address. Here's one example of Everyday Food for one year for $8.99.

Now, what did I leave out? What are the best (or worst) gifts you've seen at a gift exchange party?

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