Yankee Swap Vs. White Elephant: What’s The Difference?

Yankee Swap Vs. White Elephant: What's The Difference?

When it comes to gift exchange games, Yankee Swap and White Elephant are two popular choices that add excitement and laughter to gatherings. While both involve trading gifts and an element of surprise, there are significant differences between Yankee Swap vs. White Elephant.

Origins and Names

Yankee Swap: The term “Yankee Swap” is thought to have originated in New England, USA, where it is commonly known by this name. It’s also called a “Dirty Santa” in some regions.

White Elephant: The term “White Elephant” comes from the ancient practice of giving rare albino elephants as extravagant, burdensome gifts in Southeast Asia. Over time, the term evolved to describe any gift that is extravagant but impractical or burdensome.

Gift Selection Process

Yankee Swap: In a Yankee Swap, participants individually select gifts from a central pile. The selection order is often determined by drawing numbers or some other random method.

White Elephant: In a White Elephant exchange, participants choose a gift from the central pile and open it to reveal the contents. The selection order is usually predetermined, such as drawing numbers or going in order of age.

Stealing and Trading

Yankee Swap: In a Yankee Swap, once a gift is chosen, the participant has the option to keep it or “swap” it with someone else’s gift that has already been opened. There’s often a limit on how many times a gift can be swapped.

White Elephant: In a White Elephant exchange, participants can also steal gifts from others, but there may be a limit on how many times a gift can be stolen (often three times). Once a gift reaches its steal limit, it becomes “frozen,” and no one can take it from its current owner.

Gifts and Themes

Yankee Swap: Yankee Swaps tend to be more straightforward, with participants selecting gifts without knowing what’s inside. There’s typically no theme requirement, allowing for various gifts.

White Elephant: White Elephant exchanges often have themes or rules that dictate the type of gifts participants should bring. Themes can range from “homemade gifts” to “under $20” or even “regifting” themes.

Strategy and Intrigue

Yankee Swap: Yankee Swap focuses more on trading gifts and the element of surprise when opening a new gift. The strategy is generally straightforward—participants aim to select gifts they find appealing.

White Elephant: White Elephant exchanges often involve more strategy, as participants must consider gifts’ perceived value and appeal when deciding whether to steal or choose a new gift. Some gifts may become “hot commodities” in the game.

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