‘White Elephant’ Game Instructions



White Elephant n 1: very large, white, nearly hairless four-footed animal with a snout prolonged into a muscular trunk 2: an item you no longer need, but think it could be useful or desired by another person.


The Gifts…

·    All gifts should be wrapped.

·    Don’t mark your gift with your name and don’t indicate whether it’s intended for a male, a female or either.

·    All gifts will be placed in a pile on one table in the room.


The Game Basics…

·    Everyone will draw a number that will determine when they will take their turn.

·    The game consists of ‘rounds’ where gifts can be stolen from other players.

·    Anyone who has a gift stolen from them becomes the ‘player’ and can steal from another or open a new gift.

·    Every ‘round’ ends when a new gift is opened from the gift table


The Rules of ‘Stealing’…

·    Each gift can only be stolen once per each round.

·    When a player is trying to decide what to take, you should hold up your gift if it’s still eligible to be stolen. (Hiding gifts is not allowed.)

·    Decisions for stealing should be made as quickly as possible. If they begin to take too long and the game seems as if it will go on forever, a kitchen timer will be used to limit decisions to two minutes each.


The Rounds…

·    Round 1: The person who drew #1 picks a gift from the gift table and opens it.

·    Round 2: The person who drew #2 can either open a gift from the table or steal the gift from person #1. If the gift is stolen from #1, then #1 opens a new gift.

·    Round 3: Person #3 can choose to steal the gift from #1 or #2 or open a new gift. If the gift is stolen from #1 or #2, they become the player and can either steal the gift from the remaining player or decide to end the round by opening a gift.

·    Rounds 4 and on: The game continues with stealing and opening until the last gift is opened.

·    Possible last round: If the person who drew #1 still has the same gift the opened and never had a chance to steal, one final round will be conducted with person #1 starting as the player.


Hints and Strategy…

·    Gifts usually fall into one of two categories: ‘duds' and 'hot' gifts. If you are unfortunate and open a ‘dud’, it will probably be yours for the rest of the evening. Our sympathies will be with you.

·    The ‘hot’ gifts will be obvious. They will be the ones that everyone is stealing. You should consider stealing a ‘hot’ gift even if it’s of no interest to you. The chance that it will be stolen from you is what can keep you in the game and allow you to continue to chose.

·    There may come a time when you are the ‘player’ and must choose from a few remaining exposed gifts that are all ‘duds’. This will probably leave you looking at the pile of unopened gifts, trying to decide which one you should open. If you’ve brought a great gift that you suspect will become a ‘hot’ gift, and if it’s still there, unwrapped. you should think about opening it. It may get stolen from you and could keep you in the game. (However, you may want to keep it to yourself that this was the one you brought.)