Image via WikipediaYesterday, I shared with you a few of the things that I do not particularly care for during the Christmas season. I forgot one. It is the White Elephant Gift Swap, also known as the Yankee Gift Swap.\
Most of you probably already know what this is or have participated in one, perhaps under a different name. For those who haven't, everybody brings a wrapped gift. Participants then draw numbers. The person with #1 then picks any wrapped gift and opens it. Then, the person with #2 can choose to take that gift from person #1 or choose from another gift on the table. And on it goes until everybody has a present.
There are a number of different variations to the rules of the game. Some people put a limit on the number of times a gift can be swapped or taken. Other folks allow the person who selected first to then have an opportunity to swap their gift for any of the gifts that had been opened during the festivities.
Yesterday, my department at work had our annual Christmas luncheon. The luncheon part was very nice. We had lunch at a rather nice restaurant near our office. There were about 40 of us at lunch. We started off with appetizers of calamari, caprese, and duck spring rolls. They had wine available for the three tables, a cabernet and a Chardonnay. For my main entree, I had a grilled shrimp caprese salad. It was awesome.
In order to not disturb the other patrons in the restaurant, we decided to have our White Elephant Gift Swap at the office before heading out to eat. We were rather pressed for time, so one rule we implemented was that any gift could only be stolen one time. Another rule that we had was that we could not buy a gift for the swap. We had to regift something we had at home or use a sample that we had in the office. So at least it didn't cost me anything.
Herein lies the problem with things like the White Elephant swap. On occasion, you can get something nice. However, most likely you won't. Plus, if you are fortunate enough to get something good when you open a gift, you are probably going to end up getting it taken from you. If you opened something crappy, you can pretty much guarantee that nobody will take it from you.
Our swap had very few gifts that I would have considered "nice." There was a nice bottle of Cabernet and a bottle of Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila. There were some nice travel sized lotion sets or a cookbook that would have made a nice gift for my wife. There were some nice food gifts that ended up changing hands including the gift I gave of a gift box of KIND bars.
The majority of the gifts, however, might best be classified as "tacky." One person received a Statue of Liberty t-shirt that had a battery pack attached to it. The image of the statue would light up and flicker when turned on. Then there was my favorite gift of a Christmas hat covered in lights shaped like a roasted turkey with little Santa hats on the drumsticks. It got a lot of laughs.
I ended up getting some sort of gourmet snacks that somebody must have received from a sales rep. It will probably end up in a food box donation box if I can find one, or in the trash. We had a few good laughs during the event, mainly because of the reactions to some of the gifts. I think most of the people were probably disappointed in their gifts. Fortunately, it didn't cost us anything to participate.