Shopping·14 min read

White Elephant Gifts Under $30 That’ll Be a Hit

Beer koozies, ornaments
Design: theSkimm | Photos: Uncommon Goods, Food52
October 21, 2022

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Ahh, the white elephant gift exchange. The one where everyone buys a present and then gets to choose something random from the present pile (or steal someone else’s already-opened gift). You don’t know who you’re buying for — so you’ve got to select something universal and clever that’ll please the crowd. Not to mention the pressure that comes with wanting your present to be the standout pick. (We all know how crushing it is if no one wants to trade up for your gift.)

Good news: Any of these budget-friendly products can help cement your status as a gift-giver extraordinaire. From infused ice cubes and beautiful cactus candles to a swear-word filled coloring book, we rounded up some ideas you can’t go wrong with. Home run.Want more holiday gifting ideas? Check out The Shoppes at Skimm Ave. for our recs for everyone on your list.

Date night dice
Uncommon Goods

A dice set that’ll help them decide what to watch each night…

Raise your hand if you’re sick of having the same old arguments about what to watch — just to choose a movie you’ll fall asleep to three minutes later. Not anymore. Your giftee can roll these dice to determine what they’ll stream, down to the genre and format (TV, movie, etc.). They’ve got 216 possible combos, so you know they’ll never get bored. You’re welcome. And for more great holiday gifts from Uncommon Goods, shop here. ($18, Uncommon Goods)

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What Do You Meme game

A meme-themed game to play IRL…

You spent the pandemic finding the best memes online…now you can have fun with them in person. In this game (for ages 17+), players match caption cards to meme-worthy photos. Perfect for three or more players — so you can all dive right in after you open every gift. Laughs, incoming. And for more great holiday gifts from Amazon, check out our storefront. ($29.99, Amazon)

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kinship gel hydrating cream

A moisturizer you’ll wanna get for yourself too…

This gel cream is a hydrating dream. It leaves skin feeling cool and calm. And looking plump and dewy. Bonus: It smells like vanilla marshmallows. Plus the plant-based formula is clean, cruelty-free, and vegan. Don’t mind if we dew. ($26, Kinship)*

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Caffeine patch
The Good Patch

A caffeine patch they can wear for an added energy boost…

These lil’ guys last up to 12 hours and are made with ingredients like caffeine, yerba mate, and vitamin B12. All they’ll have to do is apply it to the inside of their wrist — it’s that easy. It’s like a cross between a face mask and a latte, sans a trip to the café. For our full review of all The Good Patch varieties, click here. ($22/8 patches, The Good Patch)

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A mindfulness-themed deck of cards

A mindfulness-themed deck of cards…

You’ve seen those decks of conversation starter cards made for family dinners or long car trips. Well, this is kinda like that, just with prompts designed with self-care in mind. They’ll help your giftee start a meaningful dialogue slash pep talk with themself. Plus, the designs on each card are adorable. And who wouldn’t want that? ($19.95,

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Reusable coffee cup
Uncommon Goods

A reusable coffee cup for the New Yorker in all of us…

Nostalgia…so hot right now. We’ll be honest, we haven’t seen the OG paper version of this Greek-inspired coffee cup around too much lately. But it’s still instantly recognizable, and sure to bring a smile to any coffee lover’s face. Plus, this reusable ceramic version is a welcome upgrade to the original because it’s dishwasher- and microwave-safe. Win. ($15, Uncommon Goods)

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A five-minute journal

A five-minute journal that doesn’t feel like a chore…

Whether your giftee has had a “journaling stage” or not, you can’t go wrong by offering this easy, minimalist book up for grabs. The non-intimidating (or time-consuming) journal makes it easy to reflect with short, straightforward daily prompts. And who knows? This simple white elephant present might turn into someone else’s lifelong habit. ($28.99, Amazon)

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Food-themed socks that’ll add a splash of fun to their everyday outfits...

Because everyone appreciates a new pair of socks. This four pack will brighten up their drawer (and their day) — whether they’re a foodie or just love a good taco Tuesday now and then. You can also choose from other themed designs, like veggies, animals, and sports. Sock yeah. ($14.99/4 pack, Amazon)

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Uncommon Goods

A koozie that’s ready for any kind of weather…

It’s hard not to smile when you first see one of these. They’re just that cute. But they’re also the coziest koozies we’ve ever seen. Unless you count these beer flannels or beer sleeping bags from the same artist. Drink up. ($13/each, Uncommon Goods)

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Stress ball

A stress ball to brighten up their desk…

Charming? Check. Colorful? Check. Practical in a time of seemingly unending stress? Also check. It’s available in five quirky shapes, so why not pick one up for yourself while you’re at it. ($8.95,

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The trophy all your friends deserve
Jenni Earle

The trophy all your friends deserve…

When everyone on your A-team (or in your group chat/friend group/book club…) is a bad*ss, you can’t go wrong with this gift. At 6.5 inches, it’s short, but mighty. Good things come in small packages, right? ($24, Jenni Earle)

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Swear-word coloring book

A coloring book we swear by…

Anyone who appreciates a well-placed curse word will get a kick out of this swear-word-themed adult coloring book. Throw in a set of crayons or colored pencils…and maybe some wine or chocolate for a complete self-care package. 10/10 recommend. ($9.69, Amazon)

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Glass tile coasters
Urban Outfitters

Glass tile coasters to brighten up any room...

Whether it’s warm or freezing where you are, these glass tile coasters (which are hand-crafted in California) will add a summery cheer to your gift bag. They’re $18 each, so a two-coaster set (or one coaster plus a mug) makes for a perfect present. Just don’t be surprised if the recipient follows up to ask where they can buy more. ($18, Urban Outfitters)

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Cauliflower toy

A stuffed animal for the kids (or vegetarians) at heart…

Whether or not there’s a known cauliflower enthusiast in your group, this irresistible toy is bound to warm people’s hearts. We can pretty much guarantee someone will want to take it home. Broccoli toys everywhere are shaking. ($28.50, Nordstrom)

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Vintage-inspired food ornaments

Vintage-inspired food ornaments…

Yes, technically these are Christmas tree ornaments, but they’re so cute and detailed that we’d just hang them up around the house any time of year. There’s a delightfully huge selection (from black-and-white cookies and bagels to poke bowls), to the point that you’ll probably want to buy yourself one, too. ($16+, Food52)

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Calming shower steamers
Uncommon Goods

Calming steamers that are like candy for their shower…

These essential-oil-scented cubes (the set of five includes lavender, eucalyptus, mint, and lemongrass) can be used either as body scrubs or shower steamers...aka perfume for their bathroom. Other perks we love? They’re handmade, all natural, and paraben-, sulfate-, and synthetic-chemical-free — not to mention they come from an all-woman team. ($28/pack, Uncommon Goods)

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A cute mug with a sense of humor

A cute mug with a sense of humor…

Oh, to be a part-time adult…truly the dream. This funny mug with a distinctive pedestal shape comes in a gift box and is dishwasher-safe, so they can save that extra few minutes for non-adulting. Phew. ($15, Amazon)

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Succulents candle
Uncommon Goods

A hand-poured candle that’s almost too pretty to burn…

Skip the succulents. These cactus- and poppy-inspired scented candles are even easier to take care of. And they’re pretty darn cute, too. ($27, Uncommon Goods)

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Sudoku set

An infinitely playable Sudoku set…

While some may burn through a book of puzzles in a couple days, this colorful and travel-friendly set brings the fun off the page (or phone) and will let them play and replay it for years to come. This set uses mini painted wooden balls instead of classic numbers for a fun twist. Comes with a book of instructions for setting up lots of different puzzles too. Game on. ($22.53, Amazon)

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Apple AirTag

An easy way to keep track of just about anything…

Chances are there’s at least one person in your group who could use a hand with not, well, losing stuff all the time. Keys, laptop bags… whatever they have trouble keeping on hand, this will help them find it. ($29, Apple)

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Scented toilet bombs
Uncommon Goods

Scented toilet bombs to keep any bathroom smelling fresh…

Consider this a gift for the whole team and hope someone leaves ’em behind in the restroom when the gift exchange is over. The oils will create a fizzy fragrant reaction that’ll keep odor to a minimum. Plus, they’re nontoxic, biodegradable, and septic-safe. ($15, Uncommon Goods)

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Cocktail-inspired ice cubes
Uncommon Goods

Cocktail-inspired ice cubes…

Get a fun mixology-adjacent gift without having to spend the extra money for liquor. These freezable sets are designed to go with specific spirits like gin, rum or tequila, and come in pretty giftable boxes. All your giftee has to do is shake ‘em up with their spirit of choice — or let ‘em dissolve slowly for a cool drink on the rocks. Cheers. ($20, Uncommon Goods)

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Oat Haus cookie butter
Oat Haus

A cookie dough–flavored spread to make their sweet dreams come true…

We could sure go for a spoonful of cookie dough right now. And that’s an achievable goal for just about everyone thanks to this oat-based spread that’s allergy friendly — beyond just nuts and gluten, you won’t find any of the top 14 allergens in Oat Haus’s products. Another plus? You’re supporting a woman-led company. We’re not drooling, you are. ($12.95, Oat Haus)

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