White Elephant gifting is an art form. It is the magical intersection of knowing the recipient, pushing the envelope and the element of totally random surprise. Or getting it all so completely wrong.
The hardest white elephant gifts to give are where you don’t know who the recipient will be-like in those blind exchanges. In that case, I like to avoid bad gifts that are too weird or too offensive. Two Christmases ago, I didn’t realize that 18-21 year olds would be there, and they were the ones who ended up with the Black Man underwear from Japan and the Cupcake vibrator. It was pretty awkward, but they were such good sports that it ended up being hilarious. Thankfully, they were at least 18 and not 14. #jailtime In mixed company/ blind exchange cases like this, I (now) stick to fads /As Seen On TV from 10 years prior (Billy Bass) or potty humor (Subtle Butt). But as you get closer in friendship with the recipients, no holds are barred, and the weirder and more embarrassing, the better.
Embarrassment has to be kept light without even a hint of mean spiritedness. It IS Christmas, after all. If your friend’s husband just left her to run off with his tennis coach, their doubles trophy from the tournament this summer is a horrible idea. A vibrator, on the other hand, might be embarrassingly funny and secretly welcome. Wasabi for grandma = borderline. #ThatsNotGuacamole Costco-sized bag of chips for your adamantly Paleo cousin = brilliant. Bearded Millennial neighbor gets the tape-on Merkin, Kitty Carpet. #PubesArePubes
Mastering the art of the gag gift takes planning and collecting year-round. Your neighborhood garage sale might yield some autographed Backstreet Boys CD and a be-stickered Discman. #nostalgia A day trip to Little Tokyo’s variety stores probably uncovers gems like snail trail face masks and snack food too weird-looking for Western palettes. #foodiesneedrealhobbies Shopping at stalls on a Thailand vacation, you might find t-shirts with flat out wrong information. #Dodgers2017WorldSeriesChampions (Too soon?)
And to answer the question “What is Honest Kim giving this year”, without giving too much away, I probably already gave too much away. 😉 That’s OK. No one in my family reads this. (And my husband BETTER not be running off with our tennis coach or no snail face mask for him!)
Stay tuned for Honest Kim’s 12 Days of Gag Gifts, here at HonestKim.com, starting tomorrow.