White Elephant Gifts

During the holidays this year, I attended a couple of interesting theme parties. One was the Ugly Christmas Sweater party. This is, of course, where everyone wears an ugly Christmas sweater and the sweater voted ugliest wins. I wasn’t going to go, but then, my oldest daughter, who can find any reason to celebrate, wouldn’t let me off the hook. We happened to be in Goodwill one day and I noticed the ugly Christmas sweaters. She pointed to the perfect one. The typical Christmas appliqués, with ribbons and jingle bells placed randomly all over the thing. The buttons were jingle bells and there was even a hole in it were the sweater had worn. Well, once I bought it, I had to attend the party. I was sure my sweater would win.

It didn’t. It lost to an even uglier sweatshirt. I could have contested it on the grounds that it was a “sweater” contest but, no. I was a gracious loser. Besides, my son wore the very same sweater to his Ugly Christmas Sweater party and he won. So there. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Another party that is common this time of year is the White Elephant Gift party. I happen to love these kinds of parties, but they have to be played a certain way. You can’t have all loser gifts in there or there is no anticipation. But then if every gift is a legit gift, there is no fun. The best White Elephant parties I’ve been to are the ones where there is a fair amount of both kinds of gift. This year, I went to one where all the gifts were funny ones. It was still great fun. Here are a few examples:


I do not even know what that thing was! If you know, leave a comment and, please, inform me. We couldn’t decide if it was for Weed or Wine.

This is the one I brought. It’s a beaver in a tree, but the trunk of the tree is green, not brown. My second oldest daughter helped me pick this out at the Goodwill. We had our eye on this great big bronze bull (unchanged, ah-hem), and were going to get that instead. I figured no one on earth would want the thing. I left it on the counter, thinking I’d come back and get it in a few instead of carrying it around with me. When I went back to get it, it was gone. Wow.

Okay, so maybe all the gifts weren’t horrible. This one was actually pretty nice. It’s the markers you put on wine glasses at a party so you can tell which one is yours. That would have been nice to get.

This is what I ended up with. Yes, they are as ugly as they look in the picture. Funny thing is, I love candles. I figured, a can of black or silver spray paint might do wonders. In the meantime, they don’t look nearly so bad in the proper context.

There’s the tall one on the mantle. Blends right in, don’t you think. (Of course, it doesn’t. Just smile and nod.)

The shorter one filled an empty spot by my front entrance. It holds up the red candle nicely, and I don’t care if anyone accidentally kicks it. They can’t break it.

All this fun with White Elephant gifts, got me thinking. I thought it might be fun to do this with my children. I want the focus of the gift-giving season to be less on “the haul” (which they aren’t getting this year) and more on the giving. One thing that happens with the White Elephant exchange is that the fun is in selecting the perfect funny gift and seeing how it goes over. I was a bit surprised when all my kids got on board with this idea. They’ve all got their white elephant gifts, and my youngest is the most excited. So, here we go with trying out a new family activity, which I kind of hope becomes an annual thing.

What family traditions have you begun after divorce?

About Miz Insomniac

Usually, it's the kids who grow up and leave home, but Miz Insomniac switched it up. When her kids grew up she decided to make her dreams come true so she flew the nest. After making 12 trips across the pond and back to Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East in 2014-15, Miz Insomniac now qualifies as a world traveler. She hasn't quite mastered the fine art of traveling light, but she knows how to manipulate travel plans to avoid missed flights and jet lag. A former hopeless romantic turned realist, she's stateside now reinventing her life in a new city, with new opportunities, and all the challenges that come with leaving a career, traveling abroad for a year, and then returning to a world that's nothing like she left it. Her overseas travel is by no means over, it's just not as frequent. She's different now, but remains a night owl. She writes when she should be sleeping...and while you probably are.

Posted on December 27, 2012, in Family Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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