21 Items NOT to Bring to Your White Elephant Gift Exchange


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Group of friends exchanging Christmas gifts around a tree
Photo credit: AzmanJaka/istockphoto

Companies everywhere are gearing up with festive happy hours, parties, and often white elephant gift exchanges. Participants are asked to bring a wrapped mystery gift before picking numbers that dictate the order of "stealing" a gift from someone else. But not every gift is a good gift for co-workers! Read on for items you probably shouldn't bring.

Hydro Flask Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle
Photo credit: Courtesy of Backcountry.com

Fruit infuser bottles, insulated containers, thermos bottles -- who doesn't have half a dozen bottles lying around the house? Spare your giftee cupboard space and pass on that trendy new bottle, which they will likely re-gift.

Notebook and pen
Photo credit: akova/istockphoto

These days we're glued to our smartphones, tablets, and laptops in our spare time. A handcrafted notebook and gel pen set may seem like a beautiful gift, but they tend to accumulate if the giftee isn't a journaler.

Tacky Christmas sweater
Photo credit: skodonnell/istockphoto

Want to bring an ugly sweater as a gag gift? Don't! There's almost nothing worst than a tacky shirt or sweater that gets worn for a few hours before getting tossed into another donation pile.

Two decorative figurines
Photo credit: lovelypeace/istockphoto

Magnets, figurines, and commemorative sculptures are cute, but unless your giftee has an empty display cabinet, stay away from small knickknacks that don't have a purpose. They'll most likely collect dust for a while before getting packed away in a storage closet.

Christmas picture frame with a Christmas tree in the background
Photo credit: focal point/shutterstock

Rolls of film and disposal cameras are things of the past; almost everyone snaps high-quality photos with their phones. Unless you have an amazing moment to share in a photo print, skip the photo frame. You don't want to pressure your giftee to display it, too.

Egg timer
Photo credit: VictorH11iS/istockphoto

Avocado slicers, egg timer, herb scissors ... these are very niche tools that take up space and may get utilized only once in awhile.

A teddy bear wearing a Santa Claus hat and holding a present
Photo credit: Urszula Lysionek/shutterstock

A new cuddly buddy may catch your eye in the store, drawing out your snuggle instincts. But keep walking - babies and toddlers will love new stuffed animals, but your co-worker probably doesn't need it.

Set of blue decorative dishes
Photo credit: Gokcemim/istockphoto

If your co-workers enjoy cooking and eating at home, themed dishware and cute utensil sets may seem like a fun, useful idea. But most people already have a fully stocked kitchen, especially if they're chefs at home.

Woman looking surprised while opening a Christmas gift in her office
Photo credit: mediaphotos/istockphoto

For a team gift exchange, it's best to keep things professional. Avoid awkwardness and stay far away from anything naughty, whether it's condoms, toys, or lingerie.

Set of coasters and a stand
Photo credit: marcos77/istockphoto

Enough with the coasters! Wooden sets, sassy paper coasters, custom printed plates, they're everywhere! Unless there's a big gathering, how many spots actually need protection from watermarks?

Assorted bath bombs
Photo credit: Roxana_ro/istockphoto

How many long baths have you taken in the past month? The answer is probably few if any. Think about our busy lifestyles and the amount of time and water needed to draw a relaxing bath. So drop the bath bombs, no matter how tempting they look and smell.

Photo credit: glaflamme/istockphoto

Unique bookends can be found at retail stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Barnes & Noble. But before considering these as a gift, does your giftee read as a hobby? Do they have a bookshelf for this niche gift?

Inspirational wall art on a brick wall of office
Photo credit: Bobboz/istockphoto

Motivational art is everywhere these days, whether it's pretty quotes posted on social media or on display at the local coffee shop. Avoid getting blocks of inspirational art; it may be deemed cheesy or a waste of space.

summer tote
Photo credit: WilleeCole Photography/shutterstock

Just like plastic bags, tote bags and reusable grocery bags can build up. Avoid gifting bags that may get left in the back of a closet.

Closeup of woman's hands holding white mug
Photo credit: Maddy_Z/istockphoto

Put down that mug, even if it's witty or hilarious! It may seem like a genius gift to you, but your co-worker probably has a cupboard full of mugs collected over the years.

Selfie stick
Photo credit: icafreitas/istockphoto

If your co-worker doesn't have a selfie stick by now, they most likely won't need or want one.

Zip Spinners Fidget Spinner Toy
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

The fidget cube was first released on Kickstarter, and cheap knockoffs quickly took over the world. They're a dime a dozen, so avoid bringing one to the white elephant exchange.

Cheese Board & Cutlery Set
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

Meat and cheese boards are great, but they're mostly used for entertaining guests. Skip these niche boards unless one of your co-workers is a generous, frequent party host.

Yankee Candle Large Jar Candles
Photo credit: Courtesy of yankeecandle.com

This one is a no-brainer. Most of us have one too many piled in our closet, and not enough special occasions to light them.

Globe key chain trinket on a gold key
Photo credit: redmal/istockphoto

Key chains can hold only so much, and no one wants a heavy, clunky set of keys. There's also the pressure to attach it once it's gifted, so skip this knickknack.

Woman receiving a razor for Christmas and looking disgusted
Photo credit: nullplus/istockphoto

Skip the lotions, shampoos, body wash, and hand creams. Everyone has a different skin type, so let your co-workers get the products that work best for them.

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