Now, my previous barn held a gift exchange. Participants brought a wrapped gift -- generally something we'd want to keep ourselves. Once at the party we drew numbers at random and worked our way through them. Participants had the option to select a wrapped gift or steal a previously opened gift that he or she fancied. The participant whose gift was snatched then had the option to open a gift or steal one. Gifts could be stolen 2-3 times before they went off limits.
So I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the white elephant gift exchange, since the idea was to bring less-than-desirable gifts.
Well...the exchange started out the same. Wrapped gifts and drawn numbers. However, participants were required to select a wrapped gift when their numbers were drawn. Once they unwrapped their gift, they had 20 seconds to trade it for another opened gift. This began a trading frenzy as panicked participants tried to rid themselves of horrendous gifts before time ran out.
Some of the gifts were actually desirable and changed hands numerous times during the evening. On the other hand, the ho-hum serving platter, two-foot tall ceramic rooster, and garish 3-foot tall trophy were hard to move. It was pretty funny as folks scrambled to be rid of gifts foisted on them, or attempted to pitch interest in the item they were stuck with.
Really -- gift exchanges are not for sissies, regardless of the desirability of the items. So much for peace on earth! ;-)