The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

White elephant gift ideas that fit in your budget

Discover six ideas for a white elephant gift exchange that will blow your friends away without breaking the bank.
Lexie Perez
A graphic depicting an outline of an elephant in front of a pile of holiday gifts. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

A white elephant gift exchange is a great excuse to take a study break, decompress with your friends and bring holiday cheer to these dreary few weeks. White elephant is a classic holiday gift exchange game where attendees bring gifts for everyone to examine, pick and steal. In case you’ve never done a white elephant gift exchange, here is a breakdown of the rules. It is always clear which gifts are the best because they change hands several times throughout the duration of the game. We have other awesome gift guides, but white elephant gift exchanges are known for their silliness. The funnier your gift is, the better. Groups often decide to put a price limit on their gift exchanges. With that in mind, here are six gift ideas that are $25 or less that will blow your friends away without breaking the bank.

“Tears of My Pickleball Opponents” Mug

Pickleball is all the rage right now. It is popular among tennis players, elderly people and even the occasional fraternity brother. You can reserve on-campus tennis courts through the rec or take a walk to other courts near campus to play this game. With pickleball’s popularity, this mug is sure to be the talk of the town. In life, you can’t always pay for laughs, but you can pay $15 for this mug!

Indoor Herb Garden

This is a simple kit that includes everything you need to start a windowsill garden. Whether you have a green thumb or you’ve never grown something in your life, this easy-to-use kit will make you look like an expert gardener. It includes seeds for chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and lavender. Two of the plants make flowers, and the other two plants have bright green leaves. The small containers can fit on your dorm room desk or your window’s ledge. As long as you follow the instructions, this can be the gift that keeps on giving for a bargain price of just $21.

Karaoke Microphone

While not everyone at your gift exchange will have the angelic voice of Whitney Houston, they’ll definitely pretend they do when this karaoke microphone gets unwrapped. This cheap, wireless plastic wonder will be the star of the show. If you’ve ever told yourself, “I just wish I could sing Olivia Rodrigo’s new masterpiece no-skip album “GUTS” with all my white elephant friends after the gift exchange,” now you can for the low price of $18.

Lava Lamp

If there’s anything the ever-present TikTok LED lights have taught us, it’s that the Vanderbilt community is obsessed with making their spaces colorful and bright. Something (thankfully) more original than string lights is the new centerpiece of your dorm decor — a lava lamp. It can join your white elephant exchange for $24!

Self-Care Scratch-Off Poster

There are several variations of scratch-off posters, ranging from must-watch movies to date ideas. These kinds of posters serve as both wall decoration and inspiration. However, this version of the scratch-off poster is especially well-suited for the busy college student. The poster includes 100 different suggestions of ways to nourish your personal well-being. Your friends are sure to argue over this thoughtful gift. Plus, it is only $15!

Weighted Stuffed Animal

Life at Vanderbilt is stressful, no doubt about it. That’s what makes our average of three hours of sleep each night so crucial. Therefore, the most popular gift of the exchange would have to be a weighted stuffed animal, and yes, before you ask, it’s a dinosaur. Everyone will dive head over heels to swipe this staple from the Jurassic Age and dive straight into their deep REM right after. This won’t weigh down your wallet, either, as you can snag it for the price of $16.

With these budget-friendly gifts, you will be the talk of the hour. Get ready to hear things like: “Who brought that gift?… Oh, I want to steal that one…. That is so creative…. Why didn’t I think of that?… ” White elephant is one of the best ways to bring some holiday spirit to your group of friends, and now you’re ready to get shopping! 

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About the Contributors
Holland Perryman
Holland Perryman, Staff Photographer
Holland Perryman ('26) is majoring in political science and climate studies and minoring in anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences. She performs in the Original Cast and organizes first-year events as Crawford Service Commissioner. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, singing, and finding new coffee places to try. She can be reached at [email protected].
Noah Weitzel
Noah Weitzel, Deputy Opinion Editor
Noah Weitzel (‘25) is majoring in secondary education and molecular & cellular biology in Peabody College and the College of Arts & Science. He is from Raleigh, N.C., and eats at least one applesauce from Munchie Mart a day. When not bouncing off the nearest wall, Noah can be found giving tours and playing four square with his middle school students. He can be reached at [email protected]
Lexie Perez
Lexie Perez, Graphics Editor
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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