How Much Should You Spend on a White Elephant Gift?

A group of a multiracial business people are celebrating Christmas and opening Christmas presents at the office.
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White elephants are a popular holiday gift exchange event meant to entertain party-goers — but how much should you spend?

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Not all gifts are considered equal, and some may be more desirable than others. However, most have a price target or limit on what can be spent. While the standard is $20, according to White Elephant Rules, every group is different.

The Office

An office white elephant gift exchange should have a price target of around $10, according to White Elephant Rules. There may be people who don’t want to participate and may have hurt feelings walking away with an undesirable gift. This is why it’s best to keep the target low to head off any negativity.


At a family gathering, you can expect to spend $20 or more on your white elephant gift. These kinds of gift exchanges may take place of gift-giving that would typically happen. As long as everyone can afford it, it’s okay to spend a little more on your family.

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According to White Elephant Rules, the more tight-knit the friend group, the higher you can go with the price. A white elephant exchange is also meant to replace individual gift-giving, so you can set the price to $20 or more.

Other Groups

If you’re hosting a white elephant with a group you may not know very well, $10 should be appropriate. White Elephant Rules advised setting a limit rather than a target, and keep the monetary commitment low. This should encourage everyone to participate.

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Not all white elephant gift exchanges require you to spend money. You can re-gift items that you have never used from around your house or you can have people bring homemade items instead of store-bought gifts. White elephant rules aren’t set in stone, just make sure to inform the group of the theme and price target.

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About the Author

Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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