Liveblogging the White Elephant Exchange

  • 3:45PM PST: A student body leader passes 38 numbers out of a hat. I’m #17.
  • 3:58PM PST: 16 people have selected (and occasionally stolen per the rules of the game) cookie cutters, Christmas ornaments, barbecue sauce, lamps, etc, etc.
  • 3:59PM PST: I go for the smallest gift. Organic soap called “Kiss My Face.” Regift potential: high.
  • 4:10PM PST: Will Winkler, whom students, faculty, and parents refer to by the single letter “X,” steals my soap.
  • 4:12PM PST: Given the choice between some awesome known commodity and the unknown, I’ll almost always select the unknown. It’s a sickness. Stepping past a leopard-print umbrella and a Johnny Cash collection, I open up Richard Carlson’s best-seller Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – and It’s All Small Stuff and finally understand regret. Regift potential: nil.
  • 4:30PM PST: There are five gifts left on the table. One of them is mine.
  • 4:35PM PST: There are three gifts left on the table. One of them is mine. I begin to worry.
  • 4:37PM PST: There are no more takers. Everyone has a gift. Two are left and one is mine.

    I blame my colossal TA Katy’s homemade wrapping paper which featured angler fish a little too prominently for the faculty’s tastes, I guess.

    Sucks for my colleagues. There was a Utilikey underneath those angler fish. Yeah. That’s right. A little combo pocket knife / screwdriver / bottle opener that collapsed into a key and which could’ve been yours had you only looked past the scary wrapping paper.

    There’s a metaphor there, I’m positive, but no way I’m gonna spend my time sniffing it out. ‘Cause that’s small stuff. And I don’t sweat that anymore.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Overall I’m not too big on white elephant gift exchanges…. BUT, about 15 years ago I got a bowling ball that fit my hand/fingers exactly and I’ve kept it ever since.

  2. I actually got Jonathan Kozol’s “Letters to a Young Teacher”. Excited much? Yes yes. 1 down off my wish list, 300000000000000000 to go (ha)

  3. p.s. This guy, Will Winkler, who goes by “X” — needs a little more explanation. Where did such a unique nickname come from?

  4. I’m with Mike C. If Katy goes global with her wrapping paper designs, I’m a very tempted buyer-for-life. Might make a nice black market way to fund the blog’s monthly site fees, too.

  5. the odd couple of ukiah told us of this odd blog > checked it out > creative reading…like emanating from near santa cruz or santa claus. have a merry…!

  6. Actually, Dan, that soap is great for the skin. Olive oil has many healing properties.

    Just in case you’re still contemplating it’s re-gifting potential, you may want to re-consider and keep it for yourself.

  7. Man, you got SCR-REWED on that one. Here’s what I do to get what I want in a White Elephant Exchange REGARDLESS of what number I draw.

    1. Get a partner. Preferably of the opposite sex and say share what you want.

    2. Usually in these there is a “trade maximum” so i I want A, and she wants B, and it’s my turn, I’ll take B (if she doesn’t have it.), then she will (on her turn) take B, and I’ll take A. If anyone messes with us, we’ll just take the other person’s preferred gift. One of us, if not both winds up with one thing we want. I need to make a video about it. It would get a million hits.

  8. Um…sorry, Dan. I didn’t read the part where your colleague, “X”, stole the soap. My bad.

    On another related topic: Is there some sort of wacked-out subliminal message here re: white elephant gifting? How are we benefitting? How are we becoming “better” as a result?

  9. This wacky holiday and its wackier gift-giving traditions are beyond my explanation, I’m afraid, particularly w/r/t the question: who benefits more in the exchange, the gift-giver or the gift-receiver?

    Wacky holiday.