socialite savvy: have yourself an ugly Christmas sweater party

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c/o Martha Dahl at Essence Photography by Martha

I hope you had yourself a very merry holiday this year filled with all sorts of festivities.  We always make a point to celebrate with our close friends before family comes into town.  It is quickly becoming a tradition of ours to do a small gift exchange rather than stress over affording every friend a gift.  Greg’s parents host & we get to enjoy Christmas in our own quirky way.

The “white elephant” gift exchange is a simple gift-giving tactic that packs a whole lot of fun.  Choose a low dollar amount & have each guest purchase one item to bring wrapped to the party.  Suggest a gift anyone can appreciate like gloves designed to be used on smart phones.  …Or you could opt for our route: picking something funny & unexpected.  This year, we all knocked the white elephant tradition out of the park.


Our friend, Aaron (above), landed our contribution to the party: a bag full of unknown books, which turned out to be all mystery books!  Martha (lower right) won our other gift, a disc shooter in the shape of a spaceship that shoots out foam discs at rapid-fire speed.  Casey (lower left) was clearly thrilled to unwrap The Best Cat Book Ever full of comical cat portraits.  Others brought zany games & gag gifts, including a velcro helmet to throw fabric doo-doo at & poo-tanium to leave a more pleasant smell in the restroom.

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The key to hosting a white elephant gift party is to make the exchange a game.  There are multiple ways to play it, but make your guests gamble for their presents before a single one is unwrapped because that is where the real fun happens.  We play with dice and pass them around the table.  Whoever rolls doubles gets to grab a present from the middle of the table.  If you roll doubles multiple times, you can grab another gift from the pot or steal from another guest.  Set a timer somewhere in the ballpark of fifteen minutes, & once the time is up, the game is over.  It’s a smart move on the host’s part to keep some extra gifts available (like an elf hat or candy cane headbands) so everyone will undoubtedly receive one at the end of the night.

This year, we added a dress code to our holiday party.  Everyone came wearing a colorful, overly decorated holiday sweater to encourage the festive mood.  From a Home Alone inspired shirt to a hand-crafted mini-elf sweater, our friends got creative with their attire.  Some even decorated their clothes with duct-tape & package bows!  Looks like we’ll be bringing the ugly Christmas sweater theme back next year.  What holiday traditions do you have with friends & family?  Don’t forget to stop in on Friday for my latest muse moments!

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