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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Today In The Break Room ...

Friday was our office Christmas party. The place doesn’t really embrace frivolity, so getting a potluck AND a Secret Santa exchange was a real accomplishment. I brought in my “cherried” meatballsdidn’t have so much as a scrap or red, spicy pork left to take home. In the gift exchange, I got a nice big coffee mug … deep blue … with several coffees and cocoas, as well as a $10 gift card to Caribou Coffee … my favorite java spot.

The gathering was nice and calm, full of good conversation and quiet good cheer. What really would have livened things up was a big honkin’ White Elephant!!

A few jobs ago, the company that I worked at had about 25 employees and each Christmas they looked forward to the White Elephant exchange. Now, some of you may know it by other names … like a "Yankee Swap" … but essentially, you bring in a gift … unisex if possible … in the allotted price range with a “from _____” card INSIDE the wrapping. Each participant draws a number. The first person … No. 1 … goes up to the gift table and selects a gift. If everyone is in the spirit of the Elephant, then some packages are super elegant … big bows and fancy foiled wrapping paper. Other gifts are wrapped or enshrouded in a deliberately shabby manner to throw off the participants as to what “treasures” might be hidden inside.

Then the individual with #2 has the option of selecting a gift from the remaining pile or “stealing” the gift from another participant. This continues all the way through the numbers, and then No. 1 is given a last chance … keep the gift they have or steal another, which sometimes is their original selection. It is a microcosm of social dynamics to watch grown business professionals plan and connive and viciously steal from their office “enemies” and get easily distracted by shiny “baubles.” It really is fun. I hear that some variations of the game have people unwrapping their gifts as they go so that others see what they want to steal, or even a full second "round" of theft.

My best year was when I went to Goodwill and bought this terribly beaten up suitcase. It looked like the hinges were barely attached. On the outside I put a beautiful chocolate brown bow. And inside, just barely fitting, I placed Uno Attack … a wonderful game. Anyway, the “packaging” for my offering was so offputting that several people decided it must contain a gem of a gift so it got stolen a lot. That same year, I got a $20 gift card to Olive Garden and a nice spaghetti measuring gizmo. A good year all around.

POINT OF RANT: Peace and goodwill … no way, Christmas brings out the baser instincts in mankind and boy is it fun to sit back and watch!!

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