Yankee Swap is like Machiavelli meets Christmas.

Remember we had White Elephant gift exchange at work yesterday? You know how this works, right? It’s also called Yankee Swap in some places? You might remember it from that episode of The Office where Michael gave Ryan an iPod and kept screaming out “Yankee Swap!” and “it’s just FUN” and then someone tried to steal the teapot full of personal memories that Jim made for Pam back when they were cute and not popping out babies every five minutes.

OK, fine, if you don’t watch The Office (and you should have, back in the day, but now, eh, whatever, read my recaps over at The Loser’s Table and you’re fine, it’s not so great anymore) the point is this: everyone brings in an anonymous wrapped gift, and you all draw numbers out of a hat. #1 picks first. He or she chooses from the pile of gifts. #2 can either steal that person’s gift or choose a new gift. Etc., etc., until all the gifts are given out. Some places open the gifts in-between so people know what they’re stealing; some places put a limit on the number of steals. Oh, sorry. SWAPS. SWAPS, not steals. Because swaps sounds NICER.

Now, some people think this is totally the most fun ever. Those people also like parties, socializing, and small rooms full of loud people screaming laughter in their ears.

I think it’s nervous-making and off-putting for the following reasons:

  1. I don’t know what’s in the presents. How the hell do I know what to steal or take? I also am the worst chooser of gifts ever. I will elaborate on this more below.
  2. White Elephant makes people super-loud and yelly and laughy in a confined space. I feel like I’m in a sorority hazing of some sort.
  3. Some people buy good gifts. Some people buy garbage. Unless everyone’s gifts are on an equal plane of either suck or awesome, it’s kind of unfair.
  4. I think it’s rude to take things from other people, even though I know that’s the point of the game. I also, for the record, always felt sorry sending people back in Sorry, or making them pay a kajillion dollars for landing on my hotels in Monopoly.
  5. I don’t like that everyone expects you to tell which gift you provided after it’s all over. It’s ANONYMOUS for a REASON. I don’t tell anyone. I just sit there and nod and smile and say “maybe!” Whatever, you can’t break me, Guantanamo George, I’m like a master of torture.

So last year, we did White Elephant. We did not put a limit on the number of swaps and we did not open the gifts in-between. It kind of got out of hand and there was a LOT of yelling. Like, a lot, a lot. People got all bent out of shape, and people were afraid to gank gifts from the people who write out our paychecks, and people thought they were being targeted for thievery, and it was all very uncomfortable. Why are we doing this in an office? This is the kind of game you play on a prison block, and the loser gets beaten with soap in a sock.

Offices! This is NOT A GOOD IDEA. It causes LOUD NOISES. Loud noises turn normal people into Brick from Anchorman. I was afraid I was going to kill someone with a trident last year.

Also, my gift was a totally awesome weather station. Like, you set it up and it would tell you what the weather was outside so in the morning you’d know how warm or cold it was. Since I’m obsessed with shit like this, I thought, THIS IS AN AWESOME GIFT. In return, I received (as I mentioned in another post) a box of champagne flutes that looked as if someone received them as part of a gift registry, didn’t want them, and White Elephanted them. I don’t drink champagne. No, I did once, I take that back, in college, my friend bought us champagne and we drank a whole bottle the night before we graduated, you know, as you do, to celebrate, and I graduated with the worst hangover of pretty much my whole LIFE. No more champagne, please. That stuff is lethal. Also, the person who received the weather station was all “huh, this is…INTERESTING” and didn’t even CARE about the weather station. IT IS AN AWESOME WEATHER STATION THAT TELLS YOU THE WEATHER DUMMY. It IS interesting. It is the MOST interesting.

Anyway, so this year, the person in charge realized that things got all cuckoo-bananas last year so said we had a 3-steal cap on the gifts. “But how will we keep track of three times?” one of my coworkers asked. At the accounting firm. Where I work. With accountants. Who deal with numbers. All day long. Did I mention that there are bad moods, and there are people who hatchet-murder their spouses as they sleep, then there’s the mood I was in yesterday? No? OK. Consider it mentioned.

So we began the swap. I got number 10. That is not a great number. You want the highest number, because then you get final say on what gift you get since you get the last swap or steal, probably. But I got 10/23. Not winning.

So there was much merriment and I sat there thinking, “Hey, guess what, I have a ton of work I still have to finish at my desk before I go home, let’s hurry this bitch along” and then it was my turn. So there was a gift bag that looked like it contained alcohol. I needed alcohol. Badly. Like, immediately. I thought, “If I take this gift bag, maybe I can open whatever is inside and start drinking it right now.” So I took that gift bag.

Nope! Stolen. Like, immediately. IT’S YANKEE SWAP! IT’S JUST FUN!

Give me back my effing alcohol before I beat you over the head with the large heavy gift box the guy next to me has at the moment, cheerful-faced twenty-two year old who probably has never known heartbreak.

So there was a Charlie Brown gift sitting on the table. It was wrapped in newspaper and had an orange bow. I’m a sucker for the losers of the world, can’t deny that. So I chose the Charlie Brown gift. (It’s a Charlie Brown gift because of his tree. I watched that special last night. Lucy really is all kinds of an evil kickass bitch, right? I love her. “Dog germs!” Hee.)

No one (surprise!) stole my Charlie Brown gift. I sat there dreaming. Probably all the alcohol was inside. I mean, obviously a man picked this one out and wrapped it. No woman is wrapping a gift in today’s Lifestyle section and putting an out-of-season bow on it. Men don’t know what to buy for things like this. Alcohol is a safe choice. Therefore, I AM GETTING DRUNK IN LIKE FIVE MINUTES WAHOO. How will I get home from work? WHO THE EFF CARES THIS DAY HAS SUCKED A BAG OF DICKS.

Finally it was over and it was time to open the gifts. One of my coworkers thought a good idea was to pass the gifts two people to the right. What the hell? NO CHANGING RULES MIDSTREAM, SALLY ANARCHY.

I opened my gift. It was in a Baby Gap box. Well, that’s confusing, but whatever. WHERE IS MY ALCOHOL.

Well, my alcohol looked surprisingly like a gift certificate to a new sub shop that just opened. And I don’t eat bread, because bread is a carb, and I am diabetic. So, using logic, this gift is about as useless to me as the champagne flutes.

In the meantime, the SAME EXACT PERSON who poo-poohed my awesome weather station last year got my gift this year (what the hell?) and was poo-poohing the chocolate, coffee, travel mug, and awesome office voodoo doll I had lovingly picked out with no thought at all the night before in a frenzy because I realized White Elephant was Friday.

However, in a happy twist of fate, the cheery baby-faced brat who stole my awesome alcohol found that there was a selection of flavored sparkling waters inside. So ha, I gave you COMBS but you cut your HAIR to buy me a WATCH CHAIN but I sold my WATCH to buy you those COMBS, you Gift-of-the-Magi-thieving mofo.

However, one guy got FOUR BOTTLES OF WINE. And the woman sitting next to me got ALL THE LIQUOR. And the man on my left got wine that said Francis Ford Coppola on it. CELEBRITY WINE. No, for serious.

But one guy got a stuffed Angry Bird, so at least I didn’t get that. What the hell would I do with a stuffed Angry Bird.

So if anyone wants $20 to go to the new sub place near my office, let me know. I’ll swap you. ONLY QUIETLY. And for something GOOD. Like ALCOHOL. I totally need some right now.

(Psst…because many people asked for a photo of the Jezebel purse I mentioned I bought for myself yesterday when I was supposed to be shopping for only others, here it is. I promise it’s red. I think there’s something wrong with either the light in my place, or my camera. Anyway, here is my totally whorish Jezebel purse that looks orange but really is red and kicks ass in every conceivable way.)

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

24 responses to “Yankee Swap is like Machiavelli meets Christmas.

  • elaine4queen

    it does look kick ass.

    booes to secret santa. next year get a sick note to say you can’t do it or you will have an anxiety attack and they will have to call an ambulance. that’s the way to spread holiday cheer.


  • Roz

    This sounds like the same kind of madness as the Chinese Auction. I will be participating in one on Christmas Day. I hated the idea before I read this post. Oh joy. We thought we were home-free when Boyfriend’s family finally gave up on long-distance Secret Santa.

    I like the bag! Maybe the white balance on the camera needs to be adjusted.


  • blogginglily

    Huh! That purse looks kinda respectable. But what do I know from purses?


  • lahikmajoe

    Really despise White Elephant, as well. Don’t even know what they call it in Germany (maybe Secret Santa?), but I’ve had it done to me several times and it’s never pleasant.

    It may sound really trite, but the thing I hate about the holidays is that everyone’s expected to be so damned cheerful. Really. I know the alternative is some people, like me, sitting round a bit irritable, but at least that’s how I really am (sometimes, not always).

    Office parties are the worst offenders when it comes to this sort of thing.

    Except for this one I went to several years ago. And it was the ultimate irony that this would happen to me.

    I’m having this conversations with one of the newish secretaries (we’re off in a side room with the sad, abandoned hors d’oeuvres), and she proceeds to tell me how depressed and miserable her life is. The office party had nearly nothing to offer me, so I talked to her for more than an hour about how she just didn’t know how she could go on.

    Nice, huh? I mean, I’m glad I could be there for her and all, but this was a huge flag of a life lesson that sometimes a false-cheerful party was not such a bad thing. Well, ok…it’s still horrible, but within reason.

    She’s ok incidentally. Left the job a bit later and got one that was much more fulfilling for her.

    Doesn’t mean I want to run into her at a holiday party again. Once was enough.

    None of this is remotely on topic, is it? I should write blogposts on my own damned blog, shouldn’t I? Jeez.


    • lucysfootball

      I’m glad you talked to the secretary. If she came right out and blabbed about her personal woes at the office party, I’m guessing she was really hurting. I’m also glad she got a new job. Yikes. I usually sneak out as soon as I can and do work, because the sooner I do work, the sooner I can get home, which is really all I want to do anyway – work, get paid, and go home. If I want to socialize I’ll do that on my own time.

      You write blog posts WHEREVER YOU WANT TO. Here is fine. I feel special.


  • Rich Crete

    White Elephant parties suck the big wazoo. Why can’t someone just stop the shit and declare it an all booze White Elephant party. Win, win, right? But no, some jackass would bring Creme de Menthe. OK. Rule for the all booze white elephant party. If the group decides the booze is revolting, the giver has to keep it. Then most folks would be bringing Bailey’s or Kahlua or a nice Pinot.


  • jbrown3079

    If it makes you feel better, and I hope it does, Coppola wine can be bought only at your finer grocery stores right next to the Boones Farm and the Mogen David. I imagine it is almost as tasty as the champagne you so fondly remember. It might be the Godfather lll of wines.

    A co-worker described that game you are talking about to me years ago. It sounded awful. Thanks to you I know for sure.


    • lucysfootball

      I don’t understand how I live in the only state in the union where you can’t buy wine anywhere but a wine store. You can buy yours in the grocery store. @lgalaviz can buy hers in the drugstore. We have to make a special trip to a liquor store to get anything but beer or those horrible malt beverages like Twisted Teas. New York is weird about alcohol rules.

      “Godfather III of wines.” Ha!


  • Domestic Goddess in Training

    My friends do a girl’s night white elephant ornament exchange every year and tonight was the big night. This year my 7-year-old daughter came with me and had her first taste of the White Elephant excitement. She had fun, but at the end of the night she pointed out that the gifts were brought were never stolen and asked if that was because the people really did not like them. I had to tell her that her mommy’s taste is very different than everyone else’s and so I buy ornaments that I think are awesome, but for some reason are never popular. I often go home with the presents I bring, because I don’t like to be surprised. Tonight I let my daughter pick the presents so other people got stuck with my gifts.


    • lucysfootball

      See? White Elephant causes hurt feelings! I like the way you explained it to your daughter. Hopefully her generation will realize that White Elephant = silly and do away with it, right? :)


  • Debbie

    The last time I did this (we call it Chinese Gift Exchange up here in the Pacific Northwest…not sure why), I decided to buy what I thought was a generic, safe gift. I got this Bundt pan/cake mix/mixing bowl/utensils combo pack. Safe. Who would be offended by cooking supplies and a cake? The torturous even commenced and I went home with a pair of horse head slippers that WHINNIED every step you took. No joke. I couldn’t GIVE those things away; no one wanted them. Anyway, I am sitting there, sulking with my slippers when my coworker says “At least you got something funny. I got a lousy Bundt pan kit. WHO BUYS A BUNDT PAN KIT???” Then there was that awkward moment that she realized, “(probably by the look of panic on my face) that I was the moronic Bundt Pan distributer. Yeah, it was a TON of FUN. Let’s do that again, shall we?


    • lucysfootball

      I would LOVE a bundt pan kit. At least it was practical. I hate garbage joke gifts, what the hell do you do with them? You regift them to some other sucker, is what. Annoying.

      White Elephant is for hurting people’s feelings and being yelly and that is IT.


    • Roz

      I would have loved it as well! She should have traded you for those idiotic horse head slippers.


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