Christmas festivities and a hefty white elephant

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the White Elephant Gift Exchange. If you’ve never participated in one of the most unique gift exchanges, let me fill you in.

Each person brings a gift like any other exchange. The only difference is you bring something completely random that can be from around the house, a goofy infomercial find, something homemade, or you can buy something (typically there is a limit set such as $10).

For my group of friends, the more random, the better. In years past people have brought everything from a cow hat that unveiled an Smirnoff Ice bottle underneath to “ice” whoever opened it, homemade scarf, a shake weight, and everything in between.

                 

All the gifts are then placed in a pile and everyone draws a number. Starting with number 1, that person selects a gift. Then the next person can either choose a gift from the pile of gifts or can steal number 1’s gift.

            

A gift can be stolen 2 times before it is frozen and stuck with the last person who stole it. This continues until all of the gifts have been opened. It is a lot of fun and can get pretty heated if people keep stealing gifts!
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This year I decided to combine the White Elephant Party with my farewell dinner with friends since this time of year is incredibly busy and I wanted to see as many people as I could before leaving.

   

We enjoyed dinner at the Reef (one of the best restaurants in town in my opinion!) and had a surprise drop off of a couple Mondo Pu Pu Platters (a tower of appetizers that has fire coming out of the top) and a few pitchers of beer from my parents. At first I was confused why the waitress kept bringing them out and started to wonder who had ordered it all, it was such a nice, thoughtful surprise!

Gifts this year were the most random I’ve ever seen! Luke walked away with toilet seat covers and I got a homie gnome (a yard gnome dressed as a homie gangster, it was hysterical!).

I had spent an hour getting carried away at the thrift store looking for a gift. It’s crazy to see what people get rid of, or have previously owned! A book could be written about random finds in thrift stores. I bought a SNL Trivia Pursuit board game for $4.99 which ended up having all the pieces and was a DVD special edition. That was tough to give away!

I had the best time spending one last night with my friends and it was definitely a night to remember!

The rest of the weekend consisted of work (even though the holidays can be crazy in retail, it definitely has it’s rewards when you help people find the perfect gift!), watching Christmas Story with my dad while working on Luke’s gift, and making Christmas cookies with my mom and sister. We have a tradition that my sister Reba started where she makes zombie and alien Christmas Cookies. They are pretty fun!

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I woke up early Christmas Eve morning to make it to hot yoga since I knew the next couple days would be jammed pack with festivities. I also had a couple last minute Christmas things to take care of and had to work that evening. Talk about running around like a chicken with my head cut off! I had searched all over town for Cracker Jacks to complete Luke’s Christmas gift. There must be some Christmas recipe that requires Cracker Jacks because every place I went to was out of them. Finally I managed to find them at a local grocery store right before having to make it to work. The funny thing about this was that I had a man come in to my work to buy an outfit for his wife last minute and we got to talking about last minute gift shopping. I told him the dilemma I had gone through trying to find Cracker Jacks for my boyfriend’s gift. He told me his mom had a ton in the back of her car and he would find a way to get them to me. People can be so thoughtful! I told him I had just found some but that was so sweet to offer and wished him and his family a Merry Christmas!
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It was my last day of work which was tougher than I thought to say goodbye to everybody, but I was happy to finally be off to spend as much time as possible with friends and family and getting ready for New York. That night my family and I went to our church’s Christmas Eve service. We have a new pastor who has added a new light to the church with so much personality and a good sense of humor. We then followed it up by driving around with the dogs and looking at lights.
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The night of Christmas Eve my sister and I get to open up one present which is typically pajamas. This year we got matching sock monkey flannel pajamas. Mom said she wanted us to have matching ones so that we would think of one another even when we’re on opposite sides of the country. Then we will typically sleep by the tree with our dogs and enjoy the beautiful lights.

Christmas morning we slept the latest we ever have, which meant no early morning workout! But it felt great to get a good night’s sleep finally. We opened up stockings first and took our time opening up presents. We were all spoiled! Dad’s gifts included several photography books, Star Trek collectibles, and his traditional holiday dog ornament.

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Mom’s included several Rodney Yee yoga DVD’s, Charlie Brown collectibles, and an assortment of books. Reba has always been a lover of puzzles and can complete one a day sometimes! So she opened several different puzzles, Wave Length (a game we all enjoyed playing together that evening), and a new phone that will actually work so we can stay in better contact when in New York! My favorites were a golden retriever ornament my sister bought me for when I can’t spend Christmas at home, New York Guidebooks, a beautiful scarf, and my mom’s old thimble she included in a sewing gift from when she used to sew when I was a baby. The legend of a thimble is that it’s like giving someone a kiss (according to Peter Pan).

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After presents I got ready to head over to Luke’s family’s place for Christmas Brunch. His little cousin came in dressed in his Yabba Gabba pjs with a superhero cape and was running around with his new baby doll “Oakley” and blanket. Definitely the cutest sight on Christmas morning!

After brunch we let our food baby’s settle before heading over to my families for Christmas dinner where we also exchanged gifts. Luke gave me the most thoughtful and sweetest gift to bring with me to New York. I opened an electric photo album that he had filled with pictures of him and I, my family, friends, and even included ones of Sunni. He said he tried to think of a way to give me something that would allow me to bring a little bit of everything with me from home. I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect! His gift was a tie he could wear his first day working for Simplot and a box of peanuts, Crackers Jacks, baseball cards, and other baseball items to lead into a paper chain countdown for tickets to see the Red Sox play the Yankees in New York.

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Dinner consisted of mom’s homemade bread, veggies, twice baked potatoes, glazed ham, cranberry sauce, and her homemade apple pie and chocolate peppermint mousse for dessert. I was still in a food coma for days afterwards it felt like!

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I know it’s a late remark, but I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! What were some of your favorite memories and gifts from your holiday?

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