Many of us will participate in the annual ritual of the White Elephant Gift Exchange. It is a fun event that is meant to bring joy laughter and hopefully only a little anger to a Holiday Party.
As many know, the White Elephant Exchange is when everyone brings a small gift that is wrapped and the gifts are placed in a common area for everyone to try to guess which is the best gift. There is usually a bowl or some other container that has slips of paper with a number on them. There are enough numbers to account for everyone participating so if there are 10 people, there are 10 slips of paper, numbered form 1 to 10 in the bowl. The person with the number 1 will pick a gift from the display area and unwrap it for all to see. The person with number 2 will either take that gift from the first person or pick a different gift from the display. This continues until everyone has picked a gift or stolen one form someone. There are usually rules as far as maximum number of times a particular gift can be stolen and how much you can “spend” on the gift.
Most of the gifts can be best described as a hot mess of uselessness
from the perhaps apocryphal tale that the King of Siam would award a disagreeable courtier a white elephant, the upkeep of which would ruin the courtierDictionary.com, the origin of the White Elephant
So, given that you have to be a part of the White Elephant Exchange, what can you do to make sure you have a good time? Here are a few tips to have an even better time at this event.
Wrap your gift as poorly as possibleNothing says you don’t want this more than an extremely ugly wrapping job. Speaking as someone who is awful at wrapping gifts, this is perfect for me. This is the one time you don’t need to be careful about lining up the edges, having too much paper for the size of the gift or using too much tape.
Add filler to the outside of the giftWe all know that one of the greatest things ever invented is bubble wrap. It has so many uses and the White Elephant Exchange is the perfect time to use bubble wrap. You know that there is some that you got in the boxes from the stuff you ordered as real gifts. Instead of popping all of it (you have to pop some or you are just denying yourself one of the great pleasures in life). Wrap the outside of the gift with a layer of bubble wrap. This will disguise the gift so that someone might think it is a 5 pack of underwear. Packing peanuts, shredded paper and the protective Styrofoam for electronics also work well. Remember, strange angles means this must be truly awful.
Use a box that is way too big for the giftNothing confuses people more than seeing something big. They immediately think this must be a good gift because nothing tells people something is great more so than size. The bigger the better.
If you can find a box that held a 45 inch TV, use it. Be careful, too big will be viewed as an obvious trap.
Always steal from someoneBecause most of the gifts are truly horrific, nothing annoys people more than losing that gift they were able to get that isn’t so bad. They have finally gotten to where they think they have survived and whammo! Those hopes are dashed by your dastardly deed.
But, don’t keep your expectations high. Someone will take that gift from you unless there are rules about maximum number of times a gift can be stolen. Those can be the best if you can shield your ill-gotten booty from others.
When all else fails, keep the gift you got in your desk at work for next year’s White Elephant exchange
Most likely, you end up with someone else’s junk. Oh sure, a few people will put something nice in as their gift. Lottery tickets here, bottles of alcohol there. These are the truly nice people who gain from the act of giving. The nicest of the nice. If we can get the last steal to keep their contribution, you have truly won the day.
But since there will be 3 or 4 of these at most, you can count on having that weird looking bobblehead or disturbing Christmas decoration or VHS tape of a movie that never should have been made as your prize.
What to do? Find this article next year and use it to re-gift this year’s White Elephant Gift.
What have you gotten in your White Elephant Exchanges?