Last weekend was my husband’s company Christmas party.
A few years back, before everyone had children, they were legendary, all weekend, booze fests. They used to rent out cabins near the lake, gather around a bonfire, and drink. Good tequila was passed around. Blackouts, melted shoes, and falling injuries were common.
This year, they cut the party down to one night; a cocktail hour, dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant, and a night in a relatively tame, hipster hotel on South Congress.
It was the first time I’ve been able to attend since my daughter was born. It was also the first time I’ve left one of those weekends without a crippling three-day hangover.
Times have changed.
Part of the evening included a White Elephant exchange.
The gifts from this group are usually funny, gag gifts, with one or two bottles of liquor or other nice presents thrown in to give people something to fight over.
My husband and I walked away with the Chuggler and a pair of handcuffs.
Other highlights included:
- The Poop Basket: An assortment of enemas, stool softeners, laxatives, and a hard-cover bathroom book defining and describing the different kinds of shits we take. Ex: The Soft Serve.
- The Sexy Santa Basket: A bottle of wine, sexy santa boxers, a very large, santa g-string, some lube, and a box of Fun Bumps condoms. I still can’t decide if Fun Bumps is the best condom name or the worst condom name ever.
- Unicorn Meat Gift Bag: A bottle of, “Maybe You Touched Your Genitals,” hand sanitizer and a spam can of unicorn meat–an excellent source of sparkles.
- Fondue Pot and Omelet Maker: Second hand from Goodwill, we found out later.
- Mad Dog 20/20: Our contribution, because my husband loves nostalgia…or hates his coworkers.
Several people included scratch-offs with their gifts. I opened one that had two $30,000 prize scratch-offs and they were stolen by two of our best friends. I don’t want to know if they win because that would suck…for us anyway.
After an uncomfortable incident later in the night involving some of these scratch-offs, I have a new rule for White Elephant lottery tickets.
To set the scene for you, when we arrived at the hotel, we gathered near the outdoor bar and patio for some pre-dinner drinks. There were not enough tables, so we all sat around the smallest pool ever drinking Modelo from plastic cups. Hipster beer and wine list–Modelo was the group choice. It was that or Lone Star.
We noticed that there was a quarter at the bottom of the pool, and placed bets about who would be drunk enough later to go get it.
Frank the Tank* was the front-runner.
After dinner and the exchange, we returned to the pool. Frank’s wife, who is also 8 months pregnant, was preparing to check the scratch-offs she ended up with from the gift exchange.
Frank changed into some shorts, dove into the pool, and obtained the lucky quarter for his lady.
A few moments later, she proudly held up a $5,000 winning ticket.
She passed it around, had other people check to make sure she wasn’t seeing things, and it did appear to be a winning scratch-off.
We were all excited for her, and she began talking about all the things they could buy for the nursery for their third child with this unexpected and delightful windfall.
It was a happy moment.
My husband returned from a quick trip to our room to drop off gifts, took a look at the ticket, and informed her that it was a joke scratch-off. The fine print confirmed this, but in her defense, it was dark around the pool, and there were several gifts that included real scratch-offs.
I didn’t even know that these were a thing, so I was surprised and disappointed for her. Joke scratch-offs moved quickly to the top of my list of meanest gag gifts ever.
Imagine if it was a huge amount, and some drunk, unsuspecting co-worker got excited enough about his fake winnings to cuss out the boss and quit.
Best Christmas party ever?
Okay this would be pretty funny, but probably not for the drunk, impulsive co-worker.
So here’s the new rule; if you buy these, make sure you are around when the recipient checks them to let them off the hook before they get really, really excited.
The guy who bought them felt terrible when he heard what happened, but in a gift exchange like this, you can almost guarantee that it won’t be obnoxious guy who ends up with them, it will be the people who could benefit from a financial gift the most.
Just something to think about, and the reason I generally stay far away from practical jokes.
*Not his real name.