How to Organize a Virtual White Elephant Gift Exchange

Want to do a long-distance gift exchange but aren’t sure how to get everyone involved and bought-in? These days, many events are virtual — book clubs, happy hours, baby showers — so who’s to say that throwing an online holiday event can’t be just as fun and engaging? Learn how to plan your virtual gift exchange to bring the whole family, friend group, or team closer together, even while apart!

Before The Event

1. Pick a Date

The first step in planning any event is to schedule a convenient date and time for you and your participants.

2. Set a Price Limit

It’s essential to determine the dollar amount each person should spend on their gift with a white elephant gift exchange. Otherwise, things can quickly become uncomfortable if someone brings a gift that’s exceptionally pricey or very inexpensive.

3. Choose a Virtual Platform

When organizing a virtual white elephant exchange, pick a video conferencing platform that can accommodate all your guests for your event’s duration! Some platforms limit the number of people or minutes to a meeting, so you’ll want to do your research and find one that fits your needs.

Once you decide on a platform, create an event link and include it in the online event invitation and any other reminders or communications! This will help ensure that everyone shows up at the right “place” right on time!

4. Define Your Rules

Before your online holiday party erupts into a heated discussion over how many times a gift can be stolen, you must lay down some ground rules! There are different ways to “gamify” gift exchanges, and whether you prefer to set the steal limit at two, or opt for a no-theft online Secret Santa, one thing’s for sure — setting clear rules and processes for your exchange will ensure a fun and smooth event!

5. Invite Your Guests

Make a guest list and send out invitations. Inform your participants of the date, time, budget, and rules of the game. Provide them with a link to the conference call, and make sure to request their RSVPs.

Check-in with confirmed guests one week and one day before the event to make sure you get the best turnout! Additionally, encourage guests to get in the holiday spirit by instructing them to set up a fun holiday background — whether virtual or physical!

6. Purchase Gifts Online

To make the process smoother, have each guest select the gift they’ll be purchasing from an online site such as Amazon or Etsy. Ecommerce shopping is much easier when going virtual because everyone will be able to shop, pay, and have their gifts sent directly to the recipient without much hassle. As an added bonus, it will help you in showcasing each present seamlessly throughout the game.

7. Organize your Showcase

Have each participant send you a link and photo of their gift prior to the event, and use this information to display them during the exchange. You can showcase each gift by putting them on a PowerPoint, poster board, or another tool of your choice. Uncover them throughout your white elephant as each participant chooses (or steals) the gift of their choice!

During the Exchange

You’ve planned everything down to the smallest of details, and now it’s time to start the party. Consider using these ideas throughout your special event.

1. Select a Picking Order

Assign every participant a number. When the game begins, have player number one choose a gift from the virtual showcase you created. Call on the following numbers to pick or steal a gift!

2. Keep a Running List

Document each gift after every swap to keep track of who has what item throughout the game.

3. Have Fun!

Enjoy yourself. You’ve put a lot into organizing this event, so relax, be merry, and spread good cheer!

After the Party

The party was a blast, and there are just a few more things to mark off your list.
Provide your guests with the information they need to ship the gift to the appropriate recipient. And be sure to send out online thank you cards to everyone who attended.

Although things may look a bit different this year, remember to embrace the festive season with joy and cheer. You may be celebrating the holidays from the comfort of your sofa or dining room table, but with a little effort, it can feel just as intimate!

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