Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A gift exchange of a different color...

Have you ever played the Dirty Santa gift exchange? There's a dozen names for this game, so odds are you have! It's where everyone brings a gift to a party and draws a number, and each person in order of their number opens a gift. When its your turn, you can either open a new gift from the pile of unopened gifts left, or steal someone else's opened gift. Usually there is a rule as to how many times a gift can be stolen before it's "dead" and safe with its current owner. The game ends when all the numbers have gone and all the gifts are opened. If no one ever steals from you, then what you opened is what you're going home with.

The game is really fun, and works great for large family gatherings or church parties.

Last night, the women's minsitry at my church played this game at our annual Women's Christmas Party and let me tell you - it gets intense. We'd have put the boys in the picture above to shame.

Forget that several of the 45 women there were minister's wives, and that we were all conservative Baptists. I can assure you when this game is played, religion is not a factor. We might smile and bring our pot luck dish, covered with a hand-embroidered Christmas towel stacked neatly atop our Bibles, but when the game starts, the gloves come off!

This year, the gifts were really great, especially considering we had a $15 limit. There truly wasn't a single item I'd have not wanted to get "stuck" with. Of course there are always the "hot commodity gifts" that seem to get stolen back and forth right away. This year's hot commodities were a cute snowman Christmas Card holder, a lemon-limeade scented candle and dangly black bracelet, a large snowman cookie platter, and a Christmas pillow. I ended up coming home with a Fritz & Floyd small snowman serving tray and Casting Crown's newest Christmas CD - score!

It cracks me up though - every year, there's always a few women who get a little too involved. There's some ladies who get loud and fiesty but you can tell its all in fun. Then there are others who truly seem to have their feelings hurt if someone steals a gift from there. It makes me want to yell "Uh, guys, everything in this room is $15. Just go buy it for yourself!" lol The competitive edge can easily take over.

Have you ever played this game? What are some of your memories if you have? We do this every year on my dad's side of the family because there are so many of us. We set a $30 limit and its really fun. Of course, its even funnier after the game is over because people start swapping under the table and bargaining with their immediate family members to switch =)

I survived the game last night, barely, and hopefully will survive the one we play Christmas night. Wish me luck!!! =)


Anonymous said...

My funniest memory of this is from many years ago. My grandmother contributed most of the gifts. One happened to be HER grandmother's porcelain chamber pot. So when just the right person (whose sense of humor didn't quite measure up to the occasion) picked that package, Grandma lost it. She doubled over, her face turning bright red with laughter. The recipient almost left the party until someone else took pity on him and traded for it. Turns out it was worth some decent change. :-)
Jenn W

Shelley said...

I've heard the game called Yankee Swap. How it got that name, I have no idea.

We play a similar version of this at family showers (wedding, baby, or even a little Christmas party). For this game there are 3 gifts only. Everyone has 3 numbers, and the first 3 numbers called get to choose a gift and open it. The next number chosen takes one of the 3 gifts and so on. When all the numbers are called, the 3 people holding the gifts get to keep them. They call this game "Stanley" for some weird reason. It's a lot of fun!

Shelley @ Ink Scrawls

Georgiana said...

LOL, dirty Santa! My eyebrows shot up when I read that. Around these parts I think we call it a white elephant gift exchange. I've done it a few times and it's always good for laughs!

Lori said...

My not-yet-husband and I fought over a 70's cookie jar shaped like a stump with a squirrel on top at a college White Elephant. We had to get married so we could share it.