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Throwing a Virtual White Elephant Gift Exchange

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A creative gift exchange is exactly the kind of playful event that everyone needs right now. Whether you’re used to events like “Secret Santa” or a “Cookie Swap,” this is the year to shake up your formal traditions for some fresh fun!  

Have some fun for the whole family — and friends and colleagues too — from anywhere with a virtual “White Elephant” gift exchange.

White Elephant

If you’re a fan of goofy gifts and a little good-natured rowdiness, a White Elephant gift exchange is for you. During an in-person event, guests bring a wrapped gift to give and are assigned a number (usually drawn from a hat) before the party begins.

The gift exchange starts with the person who pulled number one. Number one chooses whatever gift looks the most appealing to them and unwraps it. Then, the next person in line (number two) may either take the unwrapped gift or pick another wrapped gift from the pile to open. 

If person number one loses their gift (because person number two takes it), they get to unwrap a new one. The game keeps going until everyone has a turn to take or to open a gift.

Make it Virtual

Although it will feel different, it is simple to host a virtual version of this popular holiday gift exchange.  Here is what you need to do to make it work.

Set a Date: Reach out to your invite list to arrive at a convenient time for the event. It may feel formal to email a questionnaire with proposed days and times, however, this is the easiest way to get the most people to attend and avoid adjusting for time zones.

Pick a Platform: Choose a simple video meeting platform that you are comfortable using. Be sure it offers a few tutorial videos that you can share with your guests before the event to make it run as smooth as possible.

Send an Invitation: Now that you’ve locked in your date and meeting platform, it’s time to send your invitations. Include event basics (date, time, meeting platform) rules of play (guests must buy and wrap a gift, how a White Elephant gift exchange works) and links to the meeting platform’s tutorial videos so that guests can try the platform before the event.

If it makes sense for your group, you can set a price point for gifts.

Draw Numbers: It’s likely no surprise that there are websites dedicated to help you generate numbers. If you want to stay true to tradition and leave things to chance, go to White Elephant Online and register to use their service. You can also choose to assign a number to each guest.

Host the Gift Exchange: Have fun! Be sure that your guests arrive online with their audio and video settings on and that they know their numbers. Since it is a party, give them ample time to chit-chat before you get started.

Kick-off the gift exchange by inviting all of your guests to hold their wrapped gifts up to the camera and then have person number one choose their favorite package. Once they have made their choice, the person who brought the gift will unwrap it and display it to the group. Then, it’s time to move on to number two and so on.

To keep the energy high and to prevent the event from dragging on you may choose to set some rules. For example, you can put a limit on how many times a gift can be “stolen” or how long a guest may take to choose a gift.

Wrap it Up: Thank everyone for joining your event and making your holiday season bright! Then, let them know that you will help be sure that each participant knows who to send their gift too along with the recipients mailing address. Creating a spreadsheet of names, addresses and chosen gifts is a helpful way to manage this.

Although the holiday season is looking a bit different this year, hosting a virtual White Elephant gift exchange can bring some sense of fun and normalcy to your family’s celebration!

We are here for you! For more tips, inspiration and advice on how to navigate the real estate industry during these unprecedented times, visit the Buffini Bonus Resources for ideas.

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