FACEOFF: Secret Santa vs. White Elephant

Gianna Hutton and Julia Strasius

White Elephant- GH

To all my terrible secret keepers and horrible gift-givers, I feel for you. Secret Santa haunts the holiday season each year as friend groups and colleagues stress to find perfect gifts in awkward pairs of people who may not know each other the best. It almost inevitably creates a situation where one person spends a lot of time and money on an amazing gift and then they receive a present they hate or a thoughtless gift.

White elephant, a lively alternative to the old staple Secret Santa, creates an enjoyable atmosphere to spend with friends that often results in more memorable gifts attached to a fun game.

In the game, everyone brings a wrapped gift, typically subject to a price cap, and they draw numbers at random to determine playing order. After the first player opens their gift, every player has a choice: open their own or steal a gift from someone else that has been opened. If yours is stolen, you have the same options. 

This lighthearted game takes all the stress away associated with keeping secrets and maintaining a poker face that is needed with Secret Santa. Awkward gifts are replaced with quirky and uncommon presents that everyone can enjoy as they steal their favorites. 

Considering the stress circulating the nation as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida according to Local 10 News, the last thing anyone needs is to worry about buying a personalized gift. Enjoy the holiday season playing a game guaranteed to make the group playing laugh, whether in the office or with friends. 


Secret Santa- JS

Secret Santa exchanges make the holidays, the holidays. The joy of picking a name out of a hat and shopping for your person cannot happen with White Elephant exchanges. 

In Secret Santa, typically a group of friends or colleagues exchange presents anonymously, and then try to guess who gave it to them. 

With Secret Santa, you have a general idea of what the person would like. Therefore, the gift can be tailored to their interests and favorite items. The built up suspense as you see their reaction when opening your present, and their reaction when they find out you gave it to them, makes Secret Santa a superior choice compared to dull White Elephant exchanges.

Secret Santa brings people together, since you can learn more about the individual when searching for a gift to give. Even if you are not familiar with the person, asking friends and family what to get them makes it that much more fun. This connection clearly does not exist in White Elephant, since you have no idea who will get your gift.

White Elephant usually results in people scrambling at the last minute to find an adequate gift. People tend to make a quick trip to the dollar store to grab something off the shelves, since in the end, a random person will get their gift anyways.

Ultimately, Secret Santa is a classic and civilized exchange, whereas White Elephant stirs conflict over stealing gifts. When deciding what holiday activity to do this season, make sure to choose Secret Santa over White Elephant; you will thank me.