- USC Digital Folklore Archives - http://folklore.usc.edu -

White Elephant – Christmas Game

Posted By Tiffany Luke On May 16, 2012 @ 7:15 am In Game,Rituals, festivals, holidays | Comments Disabled

Rules:
-Each person has to bring in one present that is worth \$20
-Once a present has been taken three times, the present can no longer be taken.

Directions:
1) Everybody picks a number out of the hat. That number determines the order for gift picking
2) The first person picks a present from the gift pile and opens it.
3) When it is the second person’s turn, he or she can pick to open another present from the gift pile or pick the gift that the first person opened.
-If person #2 takes the gift from the first person, the first person has to open another present from the gift pile.
4) After that, each subsequent person has the choice of either choosing to open another present from the gift pile or taking one of the opened presents from the previous people.
-If a person’s opened gift is take, then that person then also has the choice between opening another gift or taking another person’s gift.
5) The game ends when the last gift is opened.

My informant told me that White Elephant is a Christmas tradition at her household.  She adopted this tradition after she attended a Christmas party seven years ago at a friend’s house.  She liked the game so much that she decided to incorporate it into her Christmas celebration.  Every Christmas, my informant hosts a Christmas dinner for her entire extended family.  This game was quickly accepted by everyone and has now become a yearly tradition in her household.

I believe that this game must have started as a way for people to save money on buying gifts.  My informant told me that after adopting the tradition, all of the family members have stopped buying gifts for every single relative.  Instead, they have all just focused on finding that one gift for the white elephant game.  At the same time, my informant believes that the game is a great way to bring people together as it is very fun to see what gifts are taken and the reactions of those who gets their gifts taken.

Currently, NBC has ordered a new game show based on this game that will be hosted by Howie Mandel.

Annotation:
Hibberd, James. “NBC Orders New Howie Mandel Game Show: ‘White Elephant'” EW.com. 17 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. <http://insidetv.ew.com/2012/04/17/howie-mandel-white-elephant-nbc/>.