Category Archives: White Elephant

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.)


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