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Gift Giving Gone Bad

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Who's the jackass who invented the white elephant gift exchange?

Dental Floss

Want the quickest way to make a festive holiday gathering go terribly, terribly wrong? Just have the party-goers exchange gifts. And then encourage them to start stealing from each other.

That's what happens in offices, families and among friends year after year. I've never been a fan. It actually feels like it goes against everything the holidays stand for ... the gift of giving.

The momlogic office is filled with fantastic moms, single folks and those somewhere in between. It's a great bunch of people whom I am proud to call friends. That being said, I saw some of them get downright pissy when it came to the exchanging of the gifts.

And who could blame them?

You bring what you think is a nice gift and put it in the pile. In return, you are excited for a little goodie and feel appreciative when you unwrap the bottle of wine, beautiful candle, or gift card to your favorite store.

Then someone comes over, checks it out, and plucks it out of your hands.

What the...??

I was lucky to choose the number-two spot. You know what that means, dozens of people after me have the opportunity to covet my gift. I was safe for quite a while with my cute toiletries travel cases that I was pleased to unwrap. Then a seasoned traveler got wind and decided it was hers. Again ... no hard feelings, it's part of the game.

So when I had to choose again, what did I get?

$20 in floss. Yes, floss. (Fortunately, I have a sense of humor but suspect some others may have left less than appreciative for their healthy teeth and gums.)

Is this game really the best way to say happy holidays? Or, even though someone always gets pissed, is it all in the name of good fun?

At least I will have good oral hygiene for the next couple of years.

next: 2008's Moms of the Year
6 comments so far | Post a comment now
amy December 22, 2008, 11:52 AM

I know it is awful and I always give a nice gift and am stuck with the worst! How is that fun?

Anonymous December 22, 2008, 1:33 PM

well said

Tammy December 22, 2008, 2:44 PM

I ended up a toilet seat one year and was not pleased. I spent the requisite $30 on my gift and took the time to select a thoughtful, beautiful item. I was not walking away with a toilet seat that wasn’t even the right color or shape to replace any of the seats in my house. At the end of the party, I politely handed the seat to the host, grabbed a “left over” gift that had not been claimed by anyone, said “thank you for having me” and walked right out the door. Needless to say, I was not invited back this year!

Bobbi December 23, 2008, 9:49 AM

Totaly agree! This year my husband and I brought two really nice gifts - they were both “stolen” multiple times during the exchange. What did I end up with? Bacon and Cheese flavored crickets! There wasn’t a suggested gift price, so while I spent a reasonable amount on our nice gifts, my crickets probably cost $1! This was my last White Elephant Exchange.

Ju March 24, 2009, 9:37 PM

I had a blast at my company’s White Elephant Exchange. The limit was $20 and was encouraged to be tasetful. Of course you have the 2 or 3 people who want to be silly, but still. The key is if you get a great gift, give it to your kid, ESPECIALLY if you have a toddler. It’s a good trick. It’s supposed to be fun and expecting some grand gift is a bit silly. One guy got a turkey. Yep, a good 20lbs turkey, still frozen. We put it on the balcony to stay frozen. I don’t know why people want to get worked up on something that’s supposed to be a joke.

Goodgod December 22, 2009, 12:32 PM

People. HELLO???? White elephant MEANS a gift that’s humorous and inexpensive. It’s about the joke of it and the fun of the game, not what you get! It’s not everyone else’s fault if you don’t play well with others.

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