Over the years I have become a connoisseur of White Elephant Gift Exchanges. (Hereafter referred to as "WEGE". And yes, it's pronounced like you're thinking.) Every time it's the same. For the entire 4 hours before the event I develop delusions that maybe - just maybe - this year I might win big. Maybe I will take home a Pillsbury Dough Boy carved out of Velveeta. Or maybe a jar candle that smells like "Jumpsuit Elvis". Or anything fiber optic. The anticipation makes my palms sweaty. But I never get the good stuff.
Know what I usually walk away with? CRAP. By "crap" I mean: 1) a stupid gift that's really a piece of land-fill fodder, 2) a stocking full of broken dreams.
Truthfully, WEGE brings out the worst in me. It's the gift stealing that upsets my delicate demeanor. If someone steals my gift I get this overwhelming desire to bludgeon them with a light-up, plastic molded Christ child from the tacky yard display up the street. That's right. Come up against me and I'll drop you like Santa down a chimney.
But not anymore.
You see, I have discovered that WEGE is not about the gifts. These days my goal is to sabotage the game.
Let's set the stage. All of your Sunday School class is gathered in some one's home for the festivities. Holiday sweaters and egg nog abound. People are enjoying themselves. Then it happens. A choleric woman wearing a Santa hat, too much blush and dangly miniature Nutcracker earrings stands. She calls for every one's attention. No one listens. She calls again. Same response. Suddenly, her smile dims, the veins in her neck bulge and she screams, "Merry Christmas!" with all the grace of Gene Simmons.
She announces it's time to begin the gift exchange. She's as jumpy as a junkie squirrel looking for a fix. The antics that will follow will twist her knickers something fierce.
Here are 5 ways to sabotage your next gift exchange. Let's hit the ground running, shall we?
1) Give away liquor. We all know that even mentioning alcohol in some church settings will get you blacklisted. So why not make everyone in the room uncomfortable right from the beginning? Chances are that though they may suspect you of bringing the Satan Water, there are at least 3 other couples they will suspect, too. One year my husband and I brought a 4 pack of wine coolers to a WEGE. But, to push the envelope, we removed one from the pack, leaving a note, "We owe you one." Then we signed the leader's name. Yes, yes we did.
2) Goldfish. Not the VBS snack. We're talking a live fish. In a plastic bag that you just purchased from the pet shop. Put the bag in a pretty box, add a container of fish food, and pray it doesn't die. Why a fish? Because a Golden Retriever is hard to wrap and has a tendency to pee.
3) Go Political. Did you know that not all Christians are Republicans? (gasp) Shocking, I know. Yet regardless of how you voted in the election there's always going to be someone who has a different point of view. So why not unload all your 2008 election paraphernalia? Bumper stickers, t-shirts, yard signs - both local and national. Throwing out phrases like "I voted NObama!" and "I can see Russia from my house!" will make everyone warm and cozy.
4) Is that my purse? This one is serious. I have done it but you've got to be slick. Take some one's purse, throw it in a gift bag, put it under the tree.
And speaking of family portraits...
5) The Christmas Photo. Know that Christmas letter you just got from your Sunday school teacher? The one with the dazzling photo and letter about leaning on God in the midst having irritable bowel syndrome? I say you take that photo, enlarge it to an 11x13 so it's good and grainy, roll it inside a wrapping paper tube, and slap on a bow.
I think I can say at least one of these suggestions would throw a wrench in your next gift exchange. I've done all of them, in one way or another, and it has been spectacular.
Sadly, I could only come up with 5 ways to derail a party. Surely there are more. Since you all are so funny I'll leave it up to you.
What is the worst gift you've given or received at a gift exchange? What gifts would stop you dead in your tracks?
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