rocking the White Elephant party

*disclaimer* – my son was delirious with fever last night, so i stayed up until almost 4am keeping an eye on him while he tossed and turned and mumbled about Roblox.  all is well.  he’s better today.  i, however, cannot be held responsible for whatever i am about to write.  brain function: minimal

i grew up my whole life going to White Elephant parties.  when i say “my whole life”, i actually mean it.  there was a toilet seat that got passed around for 10 years.  everyone who ended up with it, had to write their name and the date on it. my family got it twice.  it wasn’t until i left the Northwest that i knew this particular Christmas festivity had other names.  Naughty Santa, Bad Santa…these were brand new terms to me.

whatever you call it, the result is the same.  good gifts, bad gifts, funny gifts, toilet seats, people arguing about the rules for whoever draws number 1…

number 1 gets to swap out for any gift frozen or unfrozen.  it’s written on a stone tablet somewhere, i’m pretty sure.

and the ever raging debate…is it “unwrap, stolen, frozen” or “unwrap, stolen, stolen, frozen”?  i’m a “3 set of hands only” girl.  so “unwrap, stolen, frozen”.  if you play this at my house, you play by my rules or you don’t get any cider.

growing up, White Elephant parties were taken very seriously.  sometimes there were even awards given for best present.  oh yes, you heard me.  Craig and i are very good at this.  very.  good.  we’ve been known to buy gifts months in advance because we found the “right thing”.

here’s some rules for being the hero at a White Elephant party:

1.  funny must be real funny:  reindeer pooping chocolate jelly beans?  funny.  cat butt refrigerator magnets?  real funny.  you must be willing to commit.

2.  good must be real good:  sampler set from Starbucks?  good.  boutique dark chocolate salted caramels?  real good.  if you are going to go with a gift people want, make it something they extra super want.

3.  bad must be real bad:  a box of Christmas cards from 10 years ago?  bad.  Whole Chicken in a Can with a 64oz cup topper of Luke Skywalker stuck to the top?  real bad.  again, you must commit.

4.  the bait and switch:  this is not for the faint of heart.  it must be wrapped very nicely.  maybe even professionally.  and it must contain something horrifying when opened.  best example:  our friend Graeme brought a beautifully wrapped gift that contained a douche kit.  that’s all that was seen when it was opened.  and it was a real douche kit.  nothing hidden in the box.  but masterfully taped to the bottom was the new Coldplay record.  this was a long time ago when Coldplay was still a thing, so it was highly prized.  but to reap the reward, the recipient had to carry around a douche kit, which was a prize for us all.

my friend Graeme later drank the douche wash on a bet.  you’re welcome.

if you are hosting, it is a good idea to have a few extra gifts in case people show up without one (always happens).  it is also thoughtful and kind to have substitute gifts of low quality chocolates for those who get stuck with “bad gifts”.  while funny at first, leaving with half a box of Kleenex is kind of bummer.  a Whitman’s Sampler is better than nothing.

any other rules for White Elephant parties?

what is it called where you’re from?

what is the worst/best thing you have ever received at one of these ridiculous to-dos?

don’t forget!  you’ve got until the 14th to donate to the family A Woman’s Guide to Women has adopted for Christmas.  click anywhere in this reminder to go to the link.


22 comments on “rocking the White Elephant party

  1. asoulwalker says:

    It makes me happy that the douche and Coldplay were packaged together. How very appropriate. Did I mention I despise Coldplay?

  2. Kristin says:

    I was really hoping the douche kit story would be included. Best white elephant part I’ve ever attended? I think so.

  3. I once got a ziplock bag full of water. ever since then I have been waiting for the perfect time to give that wonderful gift to someone else but haven’t had the right opportunity.

  4. G Fresh says:

    What’s a White Elephant party? Or rather, how do you play?

    And yes, I’m being serious. I’ve heard of them before, but I’ve only ever been invited to one or two or them which I’ve not been able to attend so I have no idea how they work.

  5. StacyK says:

    PERFECT timing! We are headed to a “Dirty Santa” party tomorrow. (((just moving from California only a year ago, I canNOT get used to that term!)))

    Anyway… I found a Richard Simmons “Sweating to the Oldies” VHS and my husband wouldn’t let me get it. I thought it would be hilarious to sneak a Starbucks card inside to be “discovered” by the lucky winner … He was not amused.

    We need your input. For the sake of our marriage and because you are the Queen of Snark… Help!

  6. Jess says:

    A bat once flew down my grandparents chimney. My grandpa preserved it in a jar of formaldehyde. My grandma, who never throws anything away, kept it in her fruit room for 30 years. As a teenager, I discovered it, and decided to bring it to a White Elephant party that Christmas. I even tucked it behind all the canned tomatoes so that it wouldn’t be spotted by anyone else.

    30-year-old formaldehyde is kinda cloudly, and so at first glance it was hard to tell what was in the jar. So you shake it up a little, and then the grim face of the bat *tinks* up against the side of the jar…

    Would that not have been the most epicly startling thing to unwrap?

    My mom discovered the bat and disposed of it.


  7. Bekah Hope says:

    I LOVE White Elephant Parties. Haven’t had one in a couple years and I’m itching for one this year. I’ve stumbled across so many great ideas recently. Has been used for several years in White Elephant gift purchasing (although it’s a bummer if there’s a cost limit).

    Better than the toilet seat was a fur-lined bedpan we made one year (thanks to my mother, the nurse). It was stolen twice and locked in by a hunter who deemed it perfect for his deer stand.

    We made a Shel Silverstein inspired toilet plunger hat one year (complete with silver trim and a chin strap). Again, surprisingly, this was a hotly contested item.

    BUT I think the best gift I ever saw was a live mouse wrapped in a tiny plastic box. Poor “Nacho” (as he was later named) took flight across the room when he was unwrapped by an unsuspecting teenage girl.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I don’t understand what is so bad about anything Luke Skywalker. He’s the hero of a generation!

  9. Mandie Marie says:

    In our family, there were a couple of N’Sync “action figures” (they were basically Barbies) floating around for awhile.

    The best gift I ever brought to a WE party? A shoebox full of stuff that I had emptied out from my night stand drawer. Instead of throwing it out, I put everything in a box and wrapped it beautifully. My cousin was so thrilled to receive old hard candy and a half of a jar of vapo-rub.

  10. We just had our office white elephant party yesterday. I ended up with this. Guess I’ll be stowing it away in the back of my closet for next year’s shindig.

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