12 Days Until Christmas – Day Three

The Yankee Swap.

For those of you who have never experienced the dark pit of humanity that is a Christmas Yankee Swap, let me explain… In New England, there is a law that states at every holiday gathering of more than six people you must hold a Yankee Swap.  Each person is asked to bring a wrapped gift under a certain monetary value ($10 or $20).  Everyone then draws numbers and Person #1 picks out a gift and unwraps it.  Person #2 then unwraps a gift and can either keep that gift or force Person #1 to “swap”  gifts.  Person #3 then picks a gift and can swap with either Person #1 or Person #2.  The event continues until either all of the presents have been unwrapped or blood is drawn.

The two most common types of gifts found at a Yankee Swap are the “Crap” (items regifted by people who were unfortunate enough to have drawn a low number the year before) and “Targets” (the items everyone wants to take home, and will kill or die to do so.)  I try to fly under the radar by bringing yet a third type – the “Adequate” gift.  This is the item that no one really clamors for, but neither do people try to dump it like it’s filled with nuclear waste.   The mark of a successful “Adequate” gift is that people unwrap it and say, “Eh.  Could have done worse.  Might as well keep it.” 

Make no mistake.  The Yankee Swap is a vicious, ugly holiday tradition (which for some reason I enjoy a great deal.)    I’ve seen best friends come to blows over a set of 4 Frosty the Snowman dessert plates and co-workers who no longer speak due to a nasty swap involving one ugly set of earmuffs forcibly exchanged for a Mikasa Christmas tree ornament.  The worst Yankee Swap incident I’ve seen resulted from a misunderstanding about the rules.  Specifically, is Person #1 allowed to go last and choose from all of the unwrapped gifts, or does the person with the last number get the last choice?  Actually, I shouldn’t blog about that incident yet as the depositions are still pending.

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One thought on “12 Days Until Christmas – Day Three

  1. I recently learned that non-New Englanders call a Yankee Swap a “Pollyanna.” Eww. I’m a traditionalist, thank you. And I’ve had the best luck bringing a generic bottle of alcohol. : )

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