Top White Elephant Gifts: Go Green

I’d like to start the green elephant.

As a young child, I remember my parents participating in the white elephant gift exchange at a holiday party with their friends. At that time, you had to bring something from your house. I’m quite fond of that requirement, as it celebrates recycling and green gift giving in an otherwise very consumerist world.

Through the years, I’ve had the pleasure of watching this white elephant gift exchange grow into a common element at many holiday parties. I’ve enjoyed many a good battle over a bottle of whiskey or a set of stainless steel reusable water bottles. And I’ve also watched as the quality of thought put into the game dwindled, resulting in uncreative gift cards to big box retailers, tacky plastic holiday gifts that will never be used and cheap promotional items that get thrown away.

It’s not too late to reverse the trend or even set the Earth-friendly example at your holiday function. To get the party started, I offer these easy tips to turn your white elephant green:

  • Alcohol: Depending on your industry, this category of gift could be a hot item. Rather than settle for the 2010 promotional set of plastic Jack Daniels shot glasses with a bottle of booze, seek locally grown, bio-dynamic wine or some organic ales from your favorite local brewery.
  • Funky: Check out one of the numerous farmers markets throughout San Diego County. Leave Target and Walmart behind and invest in your neighbor’s creative talent to support local business.
  • Practical: Reusable bags and water bottles are not just a trend, they are here to stay. They also offer a great sense of style: bags so small they fit in your purse, bags displaying funny sayings, bags of all colors, bags made of natural materials. You name it. And some stainless water bottles also come with a year membership to San Diego Coastkeeper.
  • Thoughtful: It goes without saying that handmade gifts show how much you care. A plate of homemade cookies, a drought tolerate plant you’ve grown, jewelery you’ve made. You know your talents–what can you give?
  • Experience: Memories last a lifetime. Rather than give an “item,” give an adventure that your friends won’t forget. Can you give a day out on your boat, surf lessons, tickets to the Padres, a dinner party at your house, free dog / baby sitting? So much better to help our friends and colleagues reconnect with their city than weigh them down with more stuff.

What else makes a great green elephant gift?