Michael Scott, disappointed that his Secret Santa, Phyllis, gave him a hand-knit oven mitt, changes the game and starts a round of Yankee Swap AKA white elephant AKA nasty Christmas.

My office also celebrates Christmas with a white elephant gift exchange. And like in The Office, it usually doesn’t end well.

Two years ago, this simple and light-hearted gift exchange turned into a complicated and stressful event. After three hours (well, maybe it was only two hours), the box of chocolate and the Wal-Mart gift card had exchanged hands 27 times, and everyone FINALLY had a gift. Several were still unhappy with their gifts (perhaps even bitterly and outspokenly so), and they arranged for a few independent exchanges. I left that party with a men’s Shake Weight and a glittery ornament the size of a bowling ball. Last year, the process improved slightly, everyone understood the rules a little bit better, and I got a self-inking rubber stamp of red lips. Who knows what this year will bring…


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