Friday, December 07, 2007

Oy The Guilt

At least a quarter of unique visitors to this blog from October through December come from people searching for Yankee Swap related advice. As I've told you I wrote a relatively mean spirited post about that particular tradition.

The issue here is that my post gets me traffic, which I like. I get traffic 'cause I was mean, which is probably bad for my eternal soul or something, which I don't like. If these visitors are looking for the rules I've got that covered. I don't have to feel bad about disappointing them. Most of them, however, are looking for gift ideas. Now, on the one hand I've helped them because I've given them warning that there's no such thing as a great Yankee Swap gift* so at least they're armed with practical information that other people probably won't give them. On the other hand I really don't think that there's an Etsy shop on the planet that provides a hand made testicle cozy so they still don't know exactly what to bring. I feel like I should provide something for them.

I have no idea where you are going or who you are going with. (Which one of you is searching for a swap gift with a $40 limit. Don't go to that party! I don't know what's going on there but it's got to be nefarious in some way.) That makes it hard to make good suggestions. Let me see what I can do, though.

1. If you want to do me proud you'd bring any of the Worst Case Scenario books because, in my humble opinion, your average Yankee Swap is already that.
2. Check out Mighty Goods and sort by price.
3. If you want to be really nice (and don't say I didn't warn you against that) you could buy something from an Etsy shop. There are Ugly Dolls that go for just $10.
4. How about the Container Store? How funny would it be to bring a really nice but empty box?
5. Design Sponge has some nice gift guides this time of year but I haven't looked at them carefully, they may be pricy.
6. McDonalds gift certificates were popular when I lived back home. You could interpret that with $10 or so to S'bux, D. Donuts or the like. At least it'll be something someone will use.
7. You could buy an inexpensive photo frame but present it with a gag photo in it. The gag part will be site specific. In some circles a picture of the boss with boobs and a wig (or cuffs and an orange jump suit) photoshopped on is a laugh riots and in some it's just another word for unemployed, so let's be careful out there.
8. If you want to really disappoint and confound the hard core swappers you could make a donation to a charity in the specified amount and put the acknowledgment into the swap. Creative wrapping to throw swappers off the scent is optional but strongly encouraged.
9. If you're already baking for the holidays maybe buy a mid-cost container and fill it with the baked goods. I like this for the confounding aspect too because each person who swaps for it can eat a cookie (or brownie or rum ball, mmmm rum balls...) as they get it and so it's a gift that is constantly reducing in value. Act fast it's falling!
10. Greeting cards. Nice way to get rid of those leftover holiday cards from years past. Mix them up and make them into packets of 10 or something and set them aside for every Yankee Swap. Yeah, ok, that last one was lame. I told you I didn't know how to do this.

Now, if you've read through all of these suggestions and are still worrying over your selection for the upcoming swap I beg you, do not go! You are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Somewhere, in someone's basement is a plastic Hulk mug with my name on it that I'm still dodging. Do not let this happen to you.

I feel less guilty now. I'm still not going to any Yankee Swaps if I can help it, though.

*ChemE told me that she went to a swap (a gathering of "professionals", no less) once where the gift she chose and unwrapped was a fast food hamburger...with a bite out of it. Apparently hilarious to some, not so much to her. Or me. Or pretty much anyone I want to spend time with.**

**Here's a good lesson from that, though. You don't need to put your name on the gift you put in the swap (if they make you put your name on the gift this is another red flag, decline that invitation immedietment!). One never knows how one's taste (or humor) will be received. No name, no identifying marks, and surreptitious placement under the tree allow you the freedom to deny, deny, deny if necessary.


  1. Thanks for carrying the flag on this one, Kizz. After several years of cheesy Yankee Swap gifts, last year I finally convinced my co-workers to give the "secret Santa" idea a try.

    ALMOST everyone agreed that it was much nicer to shop for someone specific and to get something nice. The only two who didn't agree are mean people anyway, so THBPPPT to them anyway. We're "secret Santa-ing" this year!

    The holidays are supposed to be about nice, NOT about mean, or cheap or disgusting (a hamburger?!) Love and sharing should be the name of the game. And taking a bite out of the burger does NOT count as sharing, thank you very much.

    Keep the faith.

  2. Practically, I love the gift card idea... I've done that before...At least SOMEONE went home with something decent..

    And the diminishing returns candy/baked goods/whatever idea is hilarious.

  3. Us Southerns call that Dirty Santa.
    In the interest that we don't really want the Yankee association.
    Wink. Wink.
    As if.
    You won't see me flying the rebel flag anytime too soon.
    Anything that gets more traffic on your street I say!
    Carry on.

  4. I went to a party this evening - a gathering of TCC people who really like each other - and we did a Yankee Swap. And I read your post to the group. And we all laughed like idiots.

    I brought a nice gift - a cute little mug (that I bought for a dollar at the Evil Empire) and a box of Trader Joe's drinking chocolate. It went well. The worst gift was a grill set (tongs, spatula, grill fork, that sort of thing) with two pieces missing from the set. The people who brought it ended up bringing it home again, and we were all laughing about that - even them.

    We DID talk about figuring out how to turn the American flag someone brought into a combination scarf and testicle cozy, but decided that would be unAmerican; though Xena DID offer to drape it seductively across herself, while wearing her "camouflage thong" and saying "Thank me for serving" (she's a vet).

    All in all, it WAS a lot of fun, but we all went into it with exactly the right attitudes and expectations (and exactly the right amount of wine before hand...)

  5. I love Secret Santas! I think they should be the go to gift giving scheme across the world. You can still keep the costs down and it's more personal and it's KIND above all.

    Yeah, gift cards are really the way to go with these things, I think. You can't be personal with them and nobody wants useless crap hanging around plus if you want to regift a gc it's a no hassle proposition.

    Dirty Santa! Oh man, I wish everyone called it that, because THAT is an accurate description.

    Oh Chili, I can't believe you did that! Did you read it before or after the exchange itself. I think if you're going to do a swap and have it be fun you have to know that you're having it with a group who is like minded.The wine is a great idea too. I really wish I had a photo of Xena draped and thonged, she'd be my Yankee Swap icon from now on!