10 White Elephant Gift Ideas for Kids of All Ages (and All Around $20!)

published Dec 20, 2022
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hands around a gift wrapped in green wrapping paper with red bow
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I didn’t know about the White Elephant Party holiday tradition until I attended my first present swap about five years ago. It was a mixed crowd of adults and teens, so gifts had to apply to anybody over age 12. Most of us used the get-together as a chance to “regift” something — for instance, my son hates the smell of any candle, so if I’m given one, I find it a new home.  

These days, a White Elephant Party more often means buying a nice, new gift, usually for about $20. Unlike with “Secret Santa” the White Elephant gift might go to any of the guests. Kids often have their own round of gift passing and stealing, if not their own party. If your kid is invited to a White Elephant and needs a $20 gift that works for any child from about age 4 to 14, these are for you. And even if your party is a mix of ages, older teens and adults might fight for some of these as well!

1 / 10

Everyone loves the ice cream truck. Build one with this set, put on all the stickers, then introduce the two minifigures and their dog. There’s a skateboard so that, presumably, a customer can catch the moving truck. The LEGO $100 bill ensures they can buy out every single cone and popsicle.

2 / 10

Compete for best White Elephant contribution with a Squishmallow, one of the hot holiday toys of 2022. This $20 yeti is a cute seven-inch size with wild hair and a non-committal expression that you can project any mood on. She’s happy or patient or perhaps just catching a snowflake on her tongue.

3 / 10

For years, a cute umbrella was my no-fail kid-birthday gift. While no one screams for joy when they get an umbrella, kids are strangely psyched to get one that is all their own. Plus parents are super grateful if their kid comes home with something this practical. No one throws an umbrella away, until it breaks, and Totes umbrellas are famously robust.

4 / 10

This is one of our very favorite gifts for kids of any age and also perfect for a White Elephant party. Schleich makes highly realistic animal figurines that are fun to collect, display, and play with. This one has four African animals for a pretend safari.

5 / 10

Who doesn’t like to doodle? This 8.5-inch electronic board is easy to write on and then can be instantly erased. Little kids will love to draw on it, older kids can jot messages and hang it on their bedroom door or leave it on the kitchen table with a message. ("Please buy more clementines!")

6 / 10

Granted, a live aloe plant is less expensive. But this one never dies! And it’s adorable in a kid’s room, on their desk, or decorating the inside of their locker.

7 / 10

Any-age person can play the memory game, where you flip two cards over in a quest to make a match. Eeboo’s version, with plants and animals, is a beauty. Also see their memory game of faces, another of our favorites.

8 / 10

I’ve spent a lot of my toy-editor career wondering why robo-fish are so fun, but anyway, they are. This new one, a unicorn-fish, has its own tank, and a feeder that will draw the fish over to the side to say hello. (Spoiler alert: It’s because it’s magnetic.) Kids can also play with the water-activated fish in the tub.

9 / 10

Someone at the party is gonna want to swap in order to get this 53-piece set of markers, crayons, and drawing pages. All of the drawing implements are scented, which I absolutely loved as a child. Most smell like fruit, but brown is still root beer (a classic!) and now green smells like mint.

10 / 10

I have to end with the least-proper but most-popular gift to send into a child’s White Elephant Party. Kids will battle to go home with 18 fullsize bags of candy, so get this if you want to make someone’s month. Other parents may be disgruntled until they sneak a few for themselves. At least candy is consumable and shareable, so this is not a gift that wastes space.