Houlihan's White Elephant Gift Exchange

Throughout the month of December, Houlihan’s Restaurants, a modern American restaurant and bar, will spread holiday cheer and laughter throughout the country during its Third Annual World’s Largest White Elephant Gift Exchange. To participate, consumers must submit a gift so bad it’s good. In return, they will receive a wonderfully awful holiday present submitted by another Houlihan’s White Elephant Gift Exchange participant along with a $25 Houlihan’s gift card.

Houlihan's White Elephant Gift Exchange

No gift is too wild or wacky for this gift exchange – from ugly Christmas sweaters to hideous light-up neck ties and fra-gee-lay leg lamps – any gift in approximate retail value of $10 (or less) is welcome. After all, how does one put a price tag on that 25 year old Elvis stocking collecting dust in your basement? You can’t. It’s priceless. Gifts must be sent to Houlihan’s Restaurants headquarters at 8700 State Line Rd., Suite 100, Leawood, KS, 66206 by January 3, 2014 in order to participate.

“The holidays can be stressful, from parking bingo to the occasional black eye.  We want to bring some levity and fun to the holidays,” said Jen Gulvik, senior VP marketing and creative director, Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc.  “And who doesn’t love getting a surprise package from a stranger on the doorstep with a Houlihan’s gift card?  As a famous news anchor once said, ‘sixty percent of the time, it works every time.'”

Consumers can also get in on the gift exchange action via Houlihan’s social media pages. Using #HouWhiteElephant, participants can post pictures via Instagram or Twitter of their worst holiday presents and enter the photo contest. One lucky winner will win Free Houlihan’s for a year (a gift valued at $1,200) and two winners will get $100 Amazon gift cards.

Here’s one funny submission:


History of the White Elephant Gift Exchange 

The first references of the White Elephant Gift date back to the 17th century.  The concept is believed to have originated from a Thai King gifting a White Elephant to a subordinate with whom the King was dissatisfied. Since the costs associated with feeding and sheltering a white elephant was very expensive, the gift would often bring the recipient to financial ruin. The first English reference to the term ‘white elephant’ comes in a quote from 1851 G. E. Jewbury’s Letters, 1892 that reads, “His services are like so many white elephants, of which nobody can make use, and yet that drain one’s gratitude, if indeed one does not feel bankrupt.” [1]  The White Elephant Gift Exchange is believed to gain mainstream popularity after being featured in the King Family’s Christmas television special Christmas in New York in 1975.[2]


Most Likely To Be Re-Gifted

According to a 2009 Marist Poll, more than one-fifth of Americans practice re-gifting.  Items most likely to be re-gifted are:  Wine (27 percent), Fruitcake (22 percent), Candle (18 percent), Glass Dish (15 percent) and Candy (11 percent).

For more information on Houlihan’s World’s Largest White Elephant Gift Exchange including official rules please visit www.houlihans.com/WhiteElephant.

*as far as we know


About Houlihan’s
Established in 1972, Houlihan’s is a progressive concept that bridges the gap between fine dining and what people have come to expect from casual dining, priding itself on style and quality. Houlihan’s offers guests a design-forward atmosphere featuring a curated indie music soundtrack, an eclectic menu designed for modern lifestyles, and an energetic scene.  Houlihan’s crafts dishes made from scratch with assertive flavors and offers creative, diverse cocktails and wine selections, with many of its locations garnering ‘best happy hour’ awards from local media outlets. Currently, 83 Houlihan’s restaurants operate throughout the country, 52 of which are franchised. Houlihan’s is owned by Houlihan’s Restaurants, Inc. of Leawood, Kansas, which developed and owns several restaurant concepts comprising of approximately 100 locations coast-to-coast, including Devon Seafood Grill and J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks. For more information, please visit www.houlihans.com or find Houlihan’s on Facebook at www.facebook.com/houlihans.