December 12, 2007

Christmas Gift Exchanges

Gift exchanges.

Whether you have to buy gifts for people at the office or extended relatives that you really don't know, they always seem to come around faster than you think at Christmas time.

And what do you receive? You either end up getting the typical black glove and scarf set or the ever so popular Christmas paraphernalia (that went on clearance the day after Christmas last year) such as the singing stuffed Santa that lights up and drives you nuts or a candy cane striped coffee mug that you'll use one month out of the year. And my least favorite, a musky cologne that can kill anyone who comes within ten feet of you. We all look at the gifts and say a little prayer before we open them but often you are secretly wanting to ask, "Is there a gift receipt for a return on this?" Which people never seem to include for Christmas gifts.

This year for our office Christmas party, instead of buying a gift for the person whose name you drew out of a box, they opted for everyone to buy a general $10 to $15 gift for a man or woman. Do you know how hard it is to buy a $10 dollar gift that suits either sex and 20 some people with different personalities?

I thought about chocolate, but what if the person is on a diet? I thought about candles but what if a man received it? I thought about the typical black glove and scarf set but it's so overused. So I thought long and hard about it, found nothing and at the last minute opted for buying a super duper ultra snow brush and ice scraper. The deluxe version that will never leave any car under scraped during an ice storm. (Yeah, laugh my friends.)

Yesterday was our office Christmas party. Due to a potential ice storm (which the ice scraper might actually have come in handy for, see I'm so intuitive) we canceled the party at our coworker's house (which is all decorated and welcoming) and decided to have the party in the staff meeting room. We had several people bring wine but that had to be replaced with Diet Pepsi because it was at the office.

We were instructed to put all of our chairs in a circle with the presents in a pyle in the middle of the room. At the same time, we were told to go to the center and get a gift. We each opened our own gift and then had to say what we received. Now the stealing part started. All of us received two playing cards and one person had an extra deck of cards and called out the numbers so we had two chances to steal somebody's gift when our card came up.
You can tell a lot about people by how they play this game. You can tell who the really kind people are when they keep their gift which is obviously something they aren't thrilled about just so they don't hurt peoples' feelings. You have the people that just don't care. It's $10 dollars, what really can I get out of this? So they take whatever comes. You have the people that take it seriously and stop at nothing to try and keep their present. And the list goes on.

The gifts included: numerous lotion sets (which I didn't try for because you never know if it's a good lotion unless you know the brand or smell it), a Chia pet herb garden, wine, the Christmas nick-knacks which end up being added to your attic and the one gift which everyone tried to avoid: a pot which strains the fat from gravy.

As for which type of player am I? I'm the over thinker. I analyze who will probably take what so I can end up with a gift that I like. The fun is actually more in trying to predict how it will play out.
Thought process: If I steal the $25 dollar gift certificate that most people want, than my chance of getting a gift I don't want is greater because I'll be stuck with whatever they have. If I go for another gift I like, but isn't the best one, then I'll probably get to keep it because nobody is stealing it. It worked. I ended up with a nice black picture frame that holds 5x7 photos which was perfect for Olivia's Halloween portraits. Unfortunately, my best friend at the office and coworker ended up with the gravy de-fatter. And she doesn't cook.

But it was fun and I highly suggest the steal a gift scenario if your extended family (or office) is tired of buying a boat load of gifts for so many people. Other versions include: drawing numbers and then the person with number one gets to pick a wrapped gift, then number two can either pick another wrapped gift or steal number one's and then number three can pick a wrapped gift or steal any of the people that went before him.

Another family does the same thing but nobody opens the gifts so it's more based on the anticipation of what that gift might hold and at the end everyone opens what they end up with.

And one of my relatives family bring gifts under $5 dollars (gag gifts) and does this so it's more fun than anything else. As for my husband's family, they have a spending amount of $30 dollars for the gift. So it can go anyway you want it. When you can pretty much get whatever you want during the year, it's a fun and memorable way to enjoy Christmas. With less emphasis on buying a ton of gifts which Christmas shouldn't be about anyway.

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