Good morning! As I reflect back on my holidays and think about our traditions and how great it was to spend Christmas with my family, I wanted to share a nice tradition we started a couple of years ago. In my family, gifts are insignificant as we spend so much time apart from each other and the real gift is being together.

When our family started to grow and the economy started to get worse, we decided to start playing Secret Santa (amigo invisible). Somehow that didn’t work out too well as we would pick out names on Christmas Eve and you were supposed to remember for the next year and some of us would forget or not show up so somebody was always stuck with no gift or somebody else’s gift.

We then decided to play something different. It is called “White Elephant” also known as “Yankee swap”. It is a party game and generally needs a minimum of 6 participants because it is said that with a larger group it is more fun, but that isn’t a problem with us because we are over 20 people (not included children who do not play this). The goal is generally to entertain rather to gain. In other words, don’t expect an expensive gift from this game.

Here is how you play:
The gifts are placed in a central location, and participants determine in which order they will take turns selecting them. My family placed all the gifts in the center of a room and sat in a circle around them. We then decided that we would go in order of birthdays that way we are also reminded of each other’s birth dates. The first person opens a wrapped gift and the turn ends. The next person could either open another gift from the center or “steal” the one previously opened. When a person’s gift is stolen, that person can either choose another wrapped gift to open or can steal from another player. The game is over when the last person goes.

Gifts are typically inexpensive, humorous and gender neutral items. My family decided there should be a $25 value so everybody brings a gift with that value to the game.

There are many variations to this game and could last hours. Maybe next year instead of the typical Secret Santa, you could try it too!! It also avoids the headache of having to choose a gift for somebody you don’t know well.

I hope everybody had a great end to 2015 and a wonderful beginning to their 2016!
white elephant