being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Santa’s Been Naughty!
When you live in a consumer based society that has too much stuff and not enough time or creativity to really go out and purchase gifts for your loved ones (or co-workers), what do you turn to? White Elephant gifts of course.
If you don’t know what a White Elephant Gift exchange is, check this out. White Elephant has also been called Dirty Santa, Crazy Santa, Yankee Swap, and Thieving Santa. All have the same premise. Pick out a silly present that you yourself would never wish to receive, wrap it, and bring it to the gift exchange. Then everyone who is participating draws numbers and the first person picks out a present to unwrap. They unwrap the gift. Then the next person can either choose to steal the first gift, or unwrap another gift. And so the game goes on. Sometimes there’s a theme to the exchange. Sometimes the gift isn’t silly, but purchasing a gift under a certain price (that’s when it’s really interesting because there are usually gifts that someone really does want and then there’s a lot of fighting over the most popular items). Sometimes, usually dependent on the maturity level of the participants, rules are established (like presents can only be stolen so many times or the first person gets the last choice).
I may be tipping my hand to those who I will be participating with this year (I’m doing a regular White Elephant exchange and a 80s themed White Elephant exchange), but I figured it was worth a post to share some of my White Elephant ideas. I have participated in a White Elephant gift exchange for almost every Christmas of my adult life. I even did it as a kid. In my third grade class. To this day, I don’t believe that they stopped having Christmas parties at public schools just because it was politically incorrect, but because Mrs. Stevenson’s 3rd grade class Christmas party debacle of 1986 proved that eight year-olds can not handle a White Elephant-esque gift exchange. We all wanted the homemade stuffed animal in the shape of a huge nerd (the candy). It was purple. Only one person got to go home with it. It wasn’t me. Or the kid who was a Jehovah’s Witness because his parents weren’t sensitive enough to take him out of school early that day, but made him sit through the festivities in the corner of the room while the rest of us enjoyed sugar cookies and presents (sidenote: who thinks it’s a good idea to give a classroom full of kids sugar cookies? I guess me, because I’m planning on doing it for my daughter’s Kindergarten party). It ended with a black eye and three crying little girls.
Anyway, White Elephant exchanges aren’t for the faint of heart or those who get their feelings hurt easily. Because when it comes to stealing a present you have to remember, it’s not personal, it’s just business. I mean, did you ever see the Season 2 episode of The Office where Michael turns the Secret Santa gift exchange into a Yankee Swap because he got an ipod and he realizes that he overspent? Then he’s mad about getting a home made hot pad from Phyllis and practically makes Pam (who was supposed to get Jim’s teapot gift with personal items) give up the ipod? If you haven’t seen that one, you should. And it totally illustrates my point about White Elephant not being for the immature. Here’s a clip to whet your appetite.
So, if you’re going to a White Elephant gift exchange this year, here are some of my expert gift ideas (okay, so maybe I’m not an expert, but just go with it):
MRE (Meals Ready to Eat, or as joked about in the Army, Meals Rejected by Ethiopians) – having been a military family, it’s fun to watch civilians open up the brown plastic package and say, “What is this?” Then it’s even more fun to watch their distasteful looks when you explain it to them. Unless the recipient is a survivalist. Then they hoard it like bottled water and bags of rice.
A big box of McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys – this is especially fun if the toys are really retro, because then everyone can take a walk down memory lane. Speaking of, what was your favorite Happy Meal Toy? Mine was this Nickolodeon microphone. We got it on a family road trip to Colorado and we had the most fun interviewing each other about what we saw as we drove through the mountains. My mom still has it.
An industrial sized can of any type of vegetable – I remember one year that someone gave a huge can of beans at a gift exchange I was doing. The only problem was that the expiration date was sometime in the 1970s. Yuck.
A gift card – if you want to be unoriginal AND have the most fought over gift, get a gift card. But, don’t be lame and get a gift card to Walmart or Target or even Amazon. At least be a little conscious and get one from somewhere different, like a shop on here or a company with a cause like this one or this one.
Some random garage sale item – okay, I saw this earlier this summer and ALMOST bought it, but didn’t. It’s a quilt made of bras. Tacky, yes. White Elephant gold? Absolutely.
An office toy – One night on a date, hubs and I stopped by Micro Center (the place where all nerds, geeks and prodigies gather to purchase computers and electronics. Seriously. The clientele there on any given night would shame a Star Trek convention). They had this really fun gun that shoots pellets from potatoes. I think it’s so the IT guys (because that’s who shops there) can keep their jobs while taking their passive aggression out on posters of their co-workers that they have hidden all around their offices. By the way, I really love my husband to let him go to Micro Center on our date night. Truly, Madly, Deeply.
So those are a few of my suggestions. I’d love to hear what your favorite White Elephant Gift ideas are. What have you received that was White Elephant genius? Or a complete fail? I’d love to hear your stories!