White Elephants On Parade

Around this time of year, you may find yourself invited to parties that involve exchanging gifts. These parties fall into two related, but very different, categories: the white elephant gift exchange and the “please be serious” gift exchange. Sometimes the distinction is not made clear in the invitation, and in those cases it is better to be safe than sorry.

If the invitation specifically states that the exchange is a “white elephant” then you should bring a gag gift – something that the group will find funny or strange or wacky. For example, the year we got engaged Josh and I went to a white elephant party for our singles group and Josh brought a tacky padded Purdue toilet seat. We have a priceless picture of Heather E. looking askance at said seat.

There is nothing wrong with a serious gift exchange either. This is the type of exchange our couples Bible study has each year. I have been tempted in years past to buck the trend and bring something funny, but have never had the courage. This year I had a really hard time finding something suitable for guys (guys bring a guy gift, girls bring a girl gift) so I was sorely tempted to get a gag gift. Each time I hesitated, wondering, “But would they GET it?” I wound up getting something tame and safe (sighs of relief from all our Bible study friends who read this blog), but below are some options I considered:

1) Walmart carries a wide variety of candy dispensers that are actually pooping candies. I learned about it first on Rocks in My Dryer. They also had pooping penguins and pooping polar bears. Seriously. Maybe as a parent of a kid in diapers I am just overly concerned with the propriety of poo, so I decided against this gem. At least for the party (I did buy one for my father-in-law, who does not check my blog, and wrapped it up as from Hannah and Bean 2 with the inscription “Hope this doesn’t make you GAG.” He will either be totally revolted or think it’s hilarious. I hope it’s the latter.)

2) I also considered a very interesting remote control shaped like a football. Since pretty much our whole study is in the fantasy football league, I thought maybe this would be good. The one I found was not the ABC version, and was a little more intricate, but I couldn’t find a picture of it. Anyway, Josh said that guys never use stuff like this and girls just buy it when they don’t know what the guy will like. Ouch! Good thing I passed it up! I should write a guest article for Cosmo or something like “Gifts Your Man Won’t Like Even If They Are About Football.”

3) Last year I blogged extensively about tacky Christmas lawn ornaments. Can I tell you that this year it’s even worse than last year? Seriously, in the neighborhood adjoining ours where Hannah and I take our walks, there are two houses with a combined menagerie of the following tacky Christmas lawn trash items: a giant Caucasian Santa, a giant African-American Santa, a smaller Santa of undetermined ethnic origin who apparently represents the midgets, a nativty scene, a big plastic angel, a Sponge Bob Square Pants Santa, a penguin Santa, a large goose dressed as Santa, a bear who looks like Teddy Ruxpin who is not evidently Christmas related in any way, several wicker reindeer with lights and moving heads, and a couple of other things. Yowsers. Anyway, I thought it would be funny to bring an inflatable something or other, and I actually DID find this fabulous penguin atop an igloo marked down to just within the price range limit. But then I thought, “What if no one else thinks these things are tacky? What if someone in our group actually HAS one of these things and will feel maligned and mocked?” So I kept shopping…

4) Finally, I found these hilarious slippers. They were huge and puffy and featured Cartman from South Park in his police outfit and shades with “Respect My Authority” on the toes. I totally would have purchased these, had it not been for two obstacles. First, they were sold out of larger sizes, and I assume none of the guys in our group have fourth grader size feet. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I wondered if anyone in the group has ever seen South Park (or if they would admit it if they had!) because if you never saw it, you’d have a hard time understanding how incredibly funny it is to say “Respect My Authority” in a Cartman voice.

The party is tomorrow and our nice, safe gifts are wrapped and ready to go. Hopefully they will be well received. Seriously though, if anyone ever brings anything silly to this thing, the very next year I will put some crazy stuff in the mix. I just don’t want to be the first!

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