“Should we keep these mugs that the Mazda dealership sent us with their logo?” I ask.
“Maybe — they might make a good White Elephant gift for my office,” Adam said.
Blog readers, I am here to ask you / vent about this: What exactly makes for a “good” White Elephant gift?
Back up. Around the holidays, many offices / groups of friends / families hold some kind of gift exchange. Instead of a more traditional (and religiously exclusive!) “Secret Santa,” some groups hold a “White Elephant” exchange. As far as I understand, the rules of this game are that people are supposed to bring a gift from their house or buy an inexpensive gift from the store that would make for a funny or random present.
Adam loves these exchanges and goes around all year looking at items as potential gifts. Mazda mugs! Mixing bowls with a drawing of ducks! The lamp from an old Aladdin Genie costume! People are going to love this!
I do not understand how to play this game.
These items are literally junk. Are we just playing a game of “pass around the junk from one person to another”? Is this assuming that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Because I finished tidying my house according to my celebrity tidying icon, and I’m not interested in accumulating items that other people think are tossable.
When it comes to junk, what makes one item a “good” White Elephant gift and another a “bad” one? Is it the humor involved?
The other piece of the White Elephant game is that you often do not know who will be receiving the gift in the end, whether people choose from wrapped gifts based on an assigned number, or people “steal” gifts, or a crazy set of laws that look straight outta the Gemara. If I knew who my intended recipient would be, I’d buy or find an amazing perfect gift that reminds that person of our friendship and a joke we once shared or a known love of ducks on mixing bowls. But the gift receiver is basically a stranger, which makes humor and personalization impossible.
The last thing I want to do is get a dorky gift that says something about me … but it’s hard to know how to avoid that.
So, dear friends, tell me: What guidelines do you use when selecting these gifts, and do you find this game enjoyable?
In the meantime, I’ll be off searching my closets for … oh boy, I’m so bad at this game I can’t even make something up to be funny here … an unopened pack of napkins with Disney princesses?