Talk:White elephant gift exchange

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Dead Gifts[edit]

If a gift is stolen three times, it will have had four owners:

  1. Original Owner
  2. Thief #1
  3. Thief #2
  4. Thief #3

I have changed the wording about dead gifts back to "four owners" for this reason.

I should also add that if the way you play the game differs from what's on the page, add your rules as a variation, rather than deleting the existing rules. This game is played in several different ways, and we need to acknowledge that.

Groucho 13:13, 9 December 2005 (UTC)


"The name "white elephant" loosely refers to an old tradition of giving gift items consisting of old trinkets, knicknacks, or unwanted gifts from previous years (also known as "regifting"). It's said to have originated when the King of France, in observance of an onerous tradition of lavish gift-giving, unloaded a rather inconvenient, ailing pet (a white elephant) on the King of England. The dilemma this gift imposed is that the recipient had to fulfill tradition and honor the gift (keeping it alive) despite the tremendous inconvenience and expense it caused. Therefore, a traditional white elephant gift exchange involves ridiculous, often inconvenient gifts that nobody really wants."

Is this correct? I read a different story in the idioms section of the white elephant article. It seems a bit more likely.

Cableray 17:34, 27 December 2005 (UTC)CRW

Three different articles give different origins to the phrase: White Elephant, White elephant (pachyderm) and White elephant gift exchange. It would be good to get a definitive answer and update all three.

I'm much more inclined to believe that the conventional definition of "white elephant" is the origin of this gift exchange game's name, rather than the supposed New Jersey custom of using wrapping paper inside out! The former probably predates the latter (and predates this gift exchange game as well, probably), and probably even predates New Jersey itself!!  :)
Andy Nguyen (talk) 16:37, 5 December 2007 (UTC)
Who are we to decide what goes and what stays... Lets just make another page with the New Jersey meaning of "white elephant" :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:30, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

White Elephant vs. Yankee Swap[edit]

Should this page be focused on White Elephant and Yankee Swap get it's own page? Or are they so similar (and often confused) that they should exist in the same wiki article? --Terevos 22:37, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

It's the same game. -- -- MisterHand (Talk to the Hand|Contribs) 15:03, 18 July 2007 (UTC)

This article is incorrectly titled. The term white elephant, in this context, on wiki and throughought the web references a type of gift. Generally speaking, you give your junk to someone else.

This article describes a very specific party game, which has many different names.

Caveat: While the party game described in this article can involve "white elephant" gifts, "white elephant" gifting itself is not a round-robin party game.

The term "White elephant" is already defined and explained in it's own posting. This article needs to be renamed to reference the game itself, especially since the text of this article does not address the "white elephant" concept at all. AlienZen (talk) 20:37, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

-->I agree that some mention at least should be made about Yankee Swap, especially since it appeared in "The Office" And though I agree with your point about the name of the gift being called "White elephant"...I have always known the game as a white elephant as well. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:29, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

My family actually calls it a Chinese auction. - Presidentman (talk) Random Picture of the Day 23:06, 6 December 2009 (UTC)

This article should clarify that the party game described can also be played with nice, unused gifts, not just white elephant gifts. Madcap1975 (talk) 01:06, 18 December 2009 (UTC) Too many people are using the term "white elephant" for any type of gift exchange.Madcap1975 (talk) 01:10, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

Reliable sources for "Other Regional Names"[edit]

I just added a Refimprove template to the section "Other Regional Names". However, I see that Thumperward actually removed that information earlier today with the reason "far too many regional or family names for this to be at all comprehensive. just nuke the lot." I can definitely see the logic in that, but if there are other, reliable sources out there for different names used by large groups of people, I can also see the logic in listing those names. What this boils down to is this: Someone cite those names or I'll dump any without citations within a month. Matt T. (talk) 23:43, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

I think the 423,000 results in Google for "Chinese Gift Exchange" are qualifications enough for keeping a 'Regional Name' label. Who is it, btw, that decided it is a 'Regional Name'? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:54, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

Alternate Names[edit]

There seems to be some contention about the inclusion of alternate/regional names, since most are without documentation. However, it doesn't seem right to outright delete them. I propose we list them here until such a time as they can be properly verified or a place found for them on the page. -Jaardon (talk) 22:24, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

  • Other names
    • Dirty Santa
    • Yankee Swap
    • Chinese Gift Exchange
    • Chinese Auction

My family does it every year and we call it "Pirate Christmas" (talk) 16:49, 9 December 2017 (UTC)


Numbered the Variants, despite a few overlaps, because they were really confusing to read and differentiate between. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:55, 17 December 2011 (UTC)

The section about the variant that talks about using two deck or cards and the dice variant, specifically the dice variant, it says using 'dice' and then it goes on to talk about something that happens when the holder rolls 'doubles', yet it is unclear because it says when the 'holder of *the die* . . .', so I'm not sure if this is supposed to say 'the dice', and 'doubles' in this context means both die (assuming 'dice' would mean two here) have matching numbers (what one usually assumes 'doubles' means), but because it actually says 'die', this is unclear/confusing. If instead 'die' is correct (then it would probably sound better to say 'a die') , then the wording about 'die'/'dice' is fine and it's okay say 'variation with/using dice' and then go on to say 'a die', but what needs to be changed is where it talks about doubles, because if there really is only one die used, then 'doubles' would *have* to mean the same number on the die appears in two consecutive rolls, and this should be explained as such. But I think it's way more likely that two dice are used, and 'doubles' is correct, but ' the die' isn't, and should be 'the dice'. I don't want to change it in case I'm wrong in my assumption, so if someone could shed some light here, it would be much appreciated. Thanks. (talk) 00:58, 24 December 2015 (UTC)


Let's keep this section clean, people. This is not the place to talk about frozen gifts or extra turns or whatever. Put that stuff in the Variations section. At its most basic level, this is a game of taking turns either unwrapping or stealing gifts, and that's what this section should reflect. -- (talk) 16:57, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Maybe this section could include a part about when the game ends, I guess it ends when no gifts are left in the pile - or is there a time limit ? I can't find anything in the Variants section either about game end --Jontas (talk) 12:27, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

University of Arizona Sorority Scandal[edit]

There is no evidence/proof/footnotes/ etc. to back up this story. The alleged incidence happened in November 2011, but the prosecuting US Attorney mentioned resigned as United States Attorney for the District of Arizona in August 2011. There is also no newspaper article, etc. to be found on the web that reports on this story. To me it seems to be a hoax or somebody in dire straits for self-fabricated wanking material. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:03, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Questionable Variations[edit]

The variation with the host providing extra presents -- is this variation really popular enough to warrant mention? Wikipedia is NOT the place to give people ideas of how to throw a party. That's what eHow is for. This page is to reflect how the game is generally played. So can someone give an idea of how popular that variant is? Otherwise I would say it should be removed. — (talk) 08:38, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Another questionable variation has been added, with no stealing during the main round but including a stealing round afterward. I cleaned up the initial edit to make it more generic, but I still question how widespread this variation is. — (talk) 16:32, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Sorry but[edit]

this is called a yankee swap, ive never heard anyone on earth call it a white elephant. adding it to the title (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 11:36, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

We just played this game in my office, today, as we have done for the last 8 years. We call it White Elephant. I've known of no one who calls it Yankee Swap. But...I'm also from the Midwest US. So maybe there's a possibility there are regional names (shocker, I know). (talk) 20:17, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

it most definitely has regional difference, all of which should be cited and included, not excluded. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 11:58, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

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Requested move 14 January 2018[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: Not done (non-admin closure)  samee  talk 08:50, 21 January 2018 (UTC)

White elephant gift exchangeYankee swap – The term is more common. (talk) 23:32, 14 January 2018 (UTC)

  • Oppose / Comment - Huh, I've legitimately never heard of it as a Yankee swap until today. Got any sources showing this name's more popular? For now, I oppose until further info is provided. It seems like "Yankee swap" is only more popular in New England. Searching "white elephant yankee swap" provides more than double the amount of results as "yankee swap". Got any counterevidence? Paintspot Infez (talk) 00:40, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose per User:Paintspot. Even "Dirty Santa" seems more common than "Yankee swap". —  AjaxSmack  02:25, 15 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Comment – I've actually never have heard of that term. CookieMonster755 16:46, 17 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose unless there is any evidence that the other name is more common. kennethaw88talk 00:06, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose as local dialect WP:IKNOWIT nonsense.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  20:31, 19 January 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.