One of my old teams at work held a gift exchange at Christmas. The idea was that half of us would bring white elephant gifts and the other half would bring nice gifts – while staying within a budget of $20. I was tasked with bringing a white elephant gift and decided it would be best to look at local “junk stores” and flea markets to find the perfect gift. I spent hours looking before hitting the white elephant jackpot.
High on a shelf hidden amongst lots’o'junk, I saw it. The PERFECT white elephant gift. A HUGE figurine of a carousel horse, I’m talking at least 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It was painted in pastel shades of pink and purple, had fake pearls stuck all over, glitter accents, tulle wrapped around the base and neck, and a fantastically shiny gold pole going up the middle, along with a gold horn on its head.
It. Was. Ugly.
And, because it was so huge, finding a way to wrap it that made it look like a nice gift proved difficult, I had to creatively tape boxes together before gingerly wrapping it up and topping it with the prettiest bow I could make.
The next day, I hauled it to the party, and placed it in the gift pile. I was beside myself with excitement to see who would be the lucky recipient. We drew numbers to see in what order we would pick (or steal) our gifts and the fun began. About mid-way through, someone finally picked my gift, opened it carefully, and looked shell-shocked when they realized what they had just received.
It. Was. Classic.
Then they wanted to know who in tarnation brought the gift and why.
I explained, through fits of giggles, that I spent hours at all the various junk stores and flea markets in town looking for the perfect white elephant gift, and when I saw the unicorn I had to have it – because it was just so ugly and no one would possibly want it. Just as I finish my explanation another co-worker excitedly pipes up and says, “My sister loves unicorns. She collects those figurines!! She’ll love it!” Inevitably she steals the white elephant gift to regift to her sister.
And me? 2 years later, I’m still working on pulling my foot out of my mouth…