White Elephant

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…


  1. Kathryn McCullough · November 29, 2010

    What a fun post! Blogging from Haiti, I stuggle to make my writing entertain, when my subject is so serious–but you have given me a gift I need today. Thanks for the bit of morning mirth and congratulations on being freshly pressed–the unicorn/white elephant re-gifted yet again!

    • Megan · November 29, 2010

      Thanks for your comment, hearing such a compliment truly warms my heart! Thank you, also, for the work you are doing in Haiti and the work you have done in other underdeveloped countries. You are an inspiration!

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  3. Sarah · November 29, 2010

    You totally made someone’s Christmas delightful. Not in the way you intended. But someone was delighted.

  4. busyman1918 · November 29, 2010

    LoL i have had a similar experience with white elephant gifts…this year I decided to go ahead and go with a simple watch however last years white elephant there were tea kettles and useless junk but its white elephant with the family members so its different than the co workers thanks for the read!

  5. Mikalee Byerman · November 30, 2010

    It’s like the time, while shopping with my mother, I pulled the most outrageously ugly shirt off a rack and said, “Oh my GOD … who would buy this?!?!”

    Only to find a lady directly behind me sheepishly holding the same shirt.

    That was years ago. I still feel horrible. 😦

    Great post!

  6. Currie Rose · November 30, 2010

    This. Was. So. F-U-N-N-Y!

    Great story and thanks for sharing… I think we’ve all stuck our foots in our mouths at one time or another…

  7. Kristi · November 30, 2010

    We re-gifted a BAT HOUSE, a plywood box with a hole that supposedly attracted bats, who earn their keep by eating your mosquitoes (skeeters, we call them here in Arkansas). Who would possibly want THIS, we said with scorn.

    It was the hottest gift at the party. I should have put a price tag on it.

    Loved your story and the memory it helped surface! Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

    • Megan · November 30, 2010

      Thanks for sharing! I’ve heard about Bat Houses, but I’ve never seen one in person. It’s so nice to get a comment from a fellow Arkansan! (dare I ask “how ’bout them Hogs?”) 🙂

  8. Roda · November 30, 2010

    I wish you had also taken a photo of the unicorn….your words painted a picture I was dying to see.

    • Megan · November 30, 2010

      Trust me, I’m sick that I don’t have a picture to share. I spent hours searching the Internet for a similar unicorn, obviously to no avail.
      You’ll just have to go with the picture in your head, I’m sure it’s tacky enough.

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. heartybreakfast · November 30, 2010

    Hahaha! I thought I was in the minority for putting my foot in my mouth but always glad to find someone else who ends up in similar embarrassing positions. The number of times I’ve had to backtrack on what I’ve said is too much to remember! 🙂

  10. The Perfectly Imperfect One · December 4, 2010

    Awesome post! I love white elephant gift shopping. 🙂

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