Today will find me participating in a white elephant gift exchange for the second time in my life. For those who have not yet heard of it, a white elephant gift exchange (also known as a Yankee Swap) typically calls upon each participant to wrap an inexpensive used item from around the house to give to another exchange participant. The game is simple: Each participant takes turns choosing a gift. The first person picks a gift, opens it, and shows it to everyone else. The second participant then picks a gift and either chooses to unwrap it, or to exchange it for the previously unwrapped gift. And so it goes. I’m looking forward to this unique gift exchange. After all, it’s always okay to be thrilled about giving things away when someone else could put them to better use.

Last night as I was selecting a white elephant gift for this holiday gathering, I got to thinking about the joys of these gift exchanges and our family’s experiences with them. As you know, I have had just one experience with them. However, in previous years when the hubster has participated in these exchanges, he has returned home with useful and “interesting” items. A few years ago he brought home a wooden photo frame that looks great in our basement and is still in use today. Last year he brought home a brown felt headband with reindeer heads waving from wires sticking straight in the air (a kitschy item you have to see to truly appreciate). Something tells me it’ll make an appearance every December for the foreseeable future.

And although I’ve only heard of these gift exchanges happening during the holiday season, from my perspective there’s really no reason why they can’t happen any time of year, like on a Saturday in March or a Tuesday in August. It could be fun to host a gathering sometime this spring or summer and encourage everyone to bring a white elephant gift after their spring cleaning adventures are finished. Who knows what might be exchanged?! When decluttering, it’s always great to create a pile of items that you’ll later gift to others who will appreciate them.  And a white elephant exchange could be a great depository for these things. Of course, when participating in a white elephant exchange, you give an item away and bring something home with you. While this doesn’t necessarily support decluttering, you can always choose to share the item with a friend or a local service agency if you can’t put it to good use in your home.

And so today I look forward to sharing my white elephant gift with someone else. And I look forward to whatever the white elephant exchange has in store for me. Could there be a new reindeer headband in my future?

Ever received something fabulous or downright odd in a white elephant gift exchange? Tell us about it!

* Photo by Kym McLeod