Some key lessons over the years have been learned, for instance: Don't wait too long to begin the exchange, or you'll be yelling over drunks and it'll be total chaos. Let it be known that if you are super late, you just aren't participating. But the most important of all: Bring a good gift. Let it be funny, or something people WANT, or at the very least, let it be alcohol. Basically, don't bring something you would be pissed to end up bringing home yourself.
You may be saying, but wait, me and this other group get together and give each other weird and terrible things every year and its just a HOOT! That's super, and I know that those types of exchanges occur, but if you aren't 100% sure its THAT kind of W.E. exchange, maybe check with the hostess first and ask, before you bring a box full of cotton balls or something. If theres a $20 limit, shoot for $20, not $5. We usually do a $25 suggested value, so the gifts below are around that.
That said, here are some ideas for you, if you're into being the bad-ass that brought something cool that people "steal" from each other. Some of these ideas came directly from past parties, because my friends are geniuses.
Cat-centric gifts are always a winner, especially when 35% of your attendees call themselves the "justice league of cat ladies".
This is my cousin Rob winning a "crazy cat lady starter kit" last year. That I stole.
Men with cats calendar, cat socks...
You can dazzle your friends and buy it at urban outfitters for $40
and last year, making this little beauty cost me about $25:
Hipster starter kit
Here are some other things that you might think don't suck:
And were you aware that for $10 you can be the proud owner of this many 80's Garbage Pail Kids cards? Carefully arranged in a binder, these would be the radder gift ever.
May the White Elephant odds be EVER in your favor!