Blog Archive

Monday, December 17, 2012

How White Elephant Gift Exchanges go down

For anyone who doesn’t know, a “white elephant” gift exchange is one where everyone is supposed to bring something they already have at home to give as a gift (there is some disagreement on this -- some people insist on always going shopping for something new -- but either way, the point is that the gift isn't usually very awesome). Then there’s usually a complicated game where everyone can steal each other’s gifts but there’s a maximum number of times each gift can be stolen, and it’s all very complex and breeds a lot of resentment … basically, the game is designed to ensure that YOU end up with the absolute shittiest thing there.

Why do people do this? The main idea behind a White Elephant is this: say you’re getting sick of that portrait of Mark Twain riding a unicorn that’s been on your wall for years:

So you bring it to the exchange and someone else gets to take it home while you get to take home a brand-new-to-you portrait of Teddy Roosevelt riding a bear.

And everybody's happy. In theory, it’s a lovely idea.
But here’s the problem – in practice, it never works out that way. Because nobody wants to give up anything good, like a portrait of Mark Twain riding a unicorn.
Here is how things usually go with a white elephant gift exchange:

Receive invitation to White Elephant Christmas party

Wander over to pile of previous years’ White Elephant gifts and choose the most unappealing one

It's like regifting was INVENTED for these kinds of parties.
Wow. Tough call this year. I vote to ditch the Celine Dion album. No wait ... the pickle. No -- definitely the Celine.

Don’t waste time wrapping it, silly; just put it back into the same gift bag it came in last year!
Make sure you completely cover it with tissue paper. You don't want anyone seeing how shitty your gift is.

Once you’re at the party, choose a gift

Have it stolen from you by the stupid rules of the game

Choose another gift
Have it stolen from you by the stupid rules of the game
Choose another gift
Nobody wants to steal that pile of crap, you sucker!
Add it to the pile at home to wait for next year’s inevitable White Elephant parties
Man I can't wait to ruin somebody else's Christmas with that goddamned toilet paper art thing. They'll never see it coming.
Enjoy your White Elephant parties, guys. Maybe you'll get lucky and be the guy that gets to take home the one bottle of booze that gets stolen 13432542 times.
You probably won't, though. Sigh.

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