Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The White Elephant

This year, my family held our first annual "White Elephant" gift exchange.  It was fabulous.  And cheap.  And we laughed until our nostrils flared.

The rules of the swap are simple:

1.  Find and wrap anything in your home that you no longer want, need or have had hidden away for years because it was given to you and it's awful.

2.  Wrap this "White Elephant".  Wrap can be inviting, simple or downright ugly.

3.  Bring gift and set in pile with other White Elephant items.

4.  Gather family, and draw numbers.  Lowest number goes first.  This person selects and opens gift.  Everyone laughs because this item is most often quite unique.  Or atrocious.  Or both. 

This year featured:

Obscenely large framed photos, giant stuffed animals, heinous lamps, strange metal Indian sculptures and more.

5.  The next person in line then either steals the first person's gift, or selects a new one.  If you steal a gift,  then that person has to choose a new gift, or they can steal a different gift from someone else.

More laughter.

 Two very important rules:

  • Each item can only be stolen once per round.  Once an item is stolen, it can't be taken again until the next person is up to choose a gift.  So people can't just keep stealing the same item over and over again.
  • An item can only be stolen 3 times.  Once it has been stolen for a 3rd time it has reached its rightful owner.

6.  The deal with the "White Elephant" in our family is that every gift MUST be used/displayed/worn.  If you receive an ugly sweater, you better be wearing it to Easter.  If you went home with an owl ash tray, it better be front and center on your coffee table when I visit your house in two months.

Or if you opened Mellville, the founder of an old family business, he better be above your couch.
I highly recommend implementing a punishment if someone is not displaying their White Elephant prominently.  Punishments can be hosting a brunch, or paying for a round of drinks.

Either way, the game is a fabulous tradition.  It's fun and easy to play.  And people dig up some real "winners" when given the opportunity.

You also go home with a heck of a conversation piece.

Send out the bulk email now, and give everyone a year to comb their attic.

Mommyhood Footnote:  Hubby chose a small metal Indian figurine from 1948 which is on his desk.  I went home with a classy framed photo of several Easter Eggs dressed as punks with weapons.  Underneath them it reads, "This Easter beware.  The eggs have gone bad".

Both items are better than hanging Mellville.

1 comment:

  1. I love White Elephant exchanges. Last week, I got rid of an ugly pot of fake flowers that I had for years and went home with a Starbucks gift card and 2 Christmas CDs (someone didn't understand the concept of "white elephant!"). It was great.

    One year, I gave a rubber chicken. It looked quite realistically dead.

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