The White Elephant Party that our friend Sheldon and his family have been hosting has been a long-standing tradition spanning back some twenty years. Originally it was always held Christmas Eve and because of that we have been unable to attend for several years due to our own family obligations. That’s been true for other friends too so this year they decided to have the party after Christmas. And so we were able to make it to the party after many years absence as were many other friends so there was a great turnout this year.
I had forgotten how much fun this party is. The idea is simple. Every person (that’s person Karen) brings a wrapped gift in an agreed upon dollar range. The gift can be serious or a gag gift. Over the years deceptive wrapping has become de rigueur. We all sit in a circle and Aal the gifts are then placed in the center. Then everybody draws a number to determine the order. Whoever gets number one chooses a present and opens it. Then number two has a choice to make. They can either open one of the wrapped presents or steal the present that has already been opened. If they steal a present, then the person they stole from has the same choice to make. But a present can only stolen twice and then it’s considered dead and it’s now safely held by the third person to touch it. Each person takes their turn in order until everyone has a present. Some people take the game very seriously (I thinking Zenobia and maybe Chris, after all there is a rule named after him). There is a fair amount of strategy and also quite a bit of luck involved. But it’s always been a great time and this year was no exception.
Sarah opens a present during the preliminary game that involved the Christmas present equivilent of an ever-loving gobstopper. It’s a present that’s been wrapped inside another present inside another present seemingly ad infinitum. Then sheldon plays some music while the present is passed around. When the music stops, the person holding it must open the next layer and must either follow the instructions on the next layer or get a gift. It then continue until at last we reach the center. There were over thirty layers wrapped into that one package.
Catherin, Karen, Mike, Michelle and John watch intently as Sarah opens her present.
Which turns out to be a starry candle holder.
Shmare’s instructions tell her to lead us all in song.
Shmare leading the group in a “rousing” sing-a-long of Jingle Bells.
Zenobia, John and Suzanne (at right) watch as Chris gets a Union Jack male thong!
One of our co-hosts, George, opens a layer.
When you get a second present, you have to choose one to keep and pass the other to your left until finally it reachs a person with no gift. Here John tries to decide between a cologne set and a woman’s decision mug with blinking lights.
Karen, unclear on where the thong goes, opens another later of the infinite gift.
Eventually the male thong made it to the newlyweds, Michelle and John, where it stayed. Wink, wink. A nods as good as a wink to a blind man.
Sarah reads the insructions on her layer.
Eventually we found out how many licks it took to get to the center of thr present and took a break before the real festivities began. Here Shmare, Catherine and Karen prove how close we all are by all wearing the same sweater in different colors.
Sometimes the game gets heated, as Suzanne is reluctant to give up the Riedel glasses to John who’s attempting to steal them as our gamemaster Sheldon attempts to mediate.
Sheldon is very excited as Shmare opens naked barbie and the white elephant cup, a traditional gift with many previous owners, whose names are all written on the bottom of the cup.
P.S. — If anybody else there has any great pictures, please e-mail them to me and I’ll add them to the blog.