I'm going to a dinner at my church tonight - just a whole bunch of ladies getting together to eat and have fun - and we were all asked to bring a white elephant gift. This poses no problem for me, seeing how I'm getting ready to move in a few months and I've been cleaning out my house, but it got me thinking. What is the point of white elephant gifts?
For anyone who is not familiar with this term, a white elephant gift is pretty much a gag or joke gift. When used at a party the host will usually tell the guests it has to be a gift under $10 or something that you have around the house. Pretty much you're just trading junk with other people... so what's the point?
After some deliberation, I've decided that it's not about giving or getting since it's all junk anyway, but rather about the opening. One could argue that white elephant gifts are a good way to give something without spending a lot of money, but you know no one is going to taketheirs home and put in on the mantle. It really just comes down to opening a gift. And let's be honest, everyone loves the mystery and anticipation of opening something that's been wrapped and taped and tied into a package. Unfortunately, in this case the anticipation is almost always rewarded with disappointment and maybe a little laughter.
Nevertheless I will be taking 8 white elephant gifts with me tonight. That's 8 things I don't have to drag with me across the country in a few months. And some of them are actually kind of cool, so I hope there won't be so much disappointment this time around!