Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yankee Dirty White Elephant Santa Swap

You know the game, although you may know it by another name:
White Elephant
Dirty Santa
Yankee Swap

It's a holiday tradition in many families and workplaces, a gift exchange in which goodwill and generosity go out the window in favor of Machiavellian maneuvering for the perfect gift. Wikipedia explains the rules like this:

"Each person takes a turn choosing a gift. The first person picks a gift, opens it and shows it to the rest of the company. Then the number two participant picks a gift and chooses to either unwrap it or to exchange it for the previously unwrapped gift. If the gift is exchanged, the person who had their gift taken from them gets to unwrap the chosen gift and then the turn passes. When all the gifts have been opened, the game is over."

There are many variations, but the general theme is the same no matter where you are: show no mercy. Who cares what that baby Jesus said!

Often, these exchanges come with directives to spend $10 or less on a gift that no one would really want -- which just seems to add more junk to the world that will eventually get thrown away. So, why not add an element of green to your exchange this year?

Some greener ideas:


Who doesn't want a bottle of wine? At the last Gleetini Night of the year, my regular gang swapped wine, and the trading got vicious as the cabernet sauvignon was the hot item of the night.

At many cookie swaps, participants have to bring dozens and dozens of cookies. But where's the fun in that? Then nobody has to choose what kind they want. When there's only one dozen of Aunt Suzie's coveted S'more Delights, you'd bet the swapping will get crazy.

Already-Read Books (or Never-Read, but sitting on your shelf)

Trading books is a great way to bring friends together. But fighting over books? That's even better.

"Previously-owned" Items

A common way to play White Elephant is to bring gifts that have already been used. Not only does this cut back on consumption, it can result in lots of crazy gifts getting into the mix. One of my all-time favorite White Elephant gifts was an antique radio tube like the ones you see above. It decorated my room for years.

What are you going to bring to your gift exchange?

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