Friday, January 8, 2010
Dirty White Yankee Chinese Auction
(picture: The Allens and Magee's aka Algee's with our end result gifts)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I know I am a little late in these greetings and have neglected my blog these past few weeks but as always things got crazy between Christmas and New Years.l Truly this year I was not so prepared for Christmas. I had a lot of expenses come up before the big holiday and with my payday being December 22nd I really couldn't do much shopping for anyone or for Christmas dinner food items until then. My little brother came in town on the 22nd as well so it made for a whirlwind few days until Christmas day.
Thankfully my family has taken on a tradition which I imposed upon my in-laws this year since they were in town as well. You see last year my husband and I as well as my parents and brother traveled to San Diego to be with my sister and her husband. Since the vacation itself was a present I proposed we play a game which I had played at a friends Christmas party that year. The game itself has many names, Dirty Santa, White Elephant, Yankee Swap or Chinese Auction. I traced the origins of this game and the theory of the Yankee Swap was that it came from the Civil War Days. Back then, the Confederates would often trade or swap some of their prisoners (Yankees) for Confederate prisoners which was a useful strategy for them as the war went on and soldiers became hard to find. However, they weren't always completely honest about it. They would trade Yankee prisoners who were very sick or badly wounded without telling the Northerners. That meant that they got rid of prisoners who were of no value to them in exchange for battle ready soldiers. So you can see the connection that Yankee Swap became a name for a game which you could swap gifts you didn't want or need.
The rules we play by are pretty simple, you have to bring at least one gift and one bad gift to the table. The bad gift is something you don't even have to spend money on, it can be what's laying around the house. The good gift has to be something people want like a gift card or a nice blanket etc. This makes the game more exciting. Then everyone gets in a circle and we roll two dice. If you get a 7 or 11 you get to pick from the pile of all the gifts until they are all gone. Then the second round is timed and for 15 minutes you roll the dice and can steal others gifts which remain unopened. This becomes fun because you are basically fighting over gifts you have no clue what's in them. The third round everyone goes around the circle and opens their gifts. You have to display them so everyone can see. Then in the last round we roll the dice again for 15 minutes and if you get a 7 or 11 you can steal the others. However, if you roll doubles you have to put something in the middle and the next 7 or 11 has to take from what's in the middle. This is a convenient way to get rid of the bad stuff you don't want. Everyone had a blast this year and there were gifts from wendy's and home depot gift cards, to a fleece blanket made by my mom, leather chaps (which I ended up with) and coffee, pajama pants, socks etc. Last year we all went to the thrift store so the amount of "bad" gifts was a lot more but this year I would say there really weren't any bad gifts, just some more wanted than others and some recycled t-shirts etc from our houses. It's a great way to re-gift without being tacky!
I really enjoyed having my family and Chad's in town to spend the holiday with us. We all cooked dinner and each family made different dishes and we combined them and had a fabulous evening. I would say the Allens and Magees get along exceptionally well and I cannot wait to celebrate more holidays together. However, next year should be exponentially better because we are buying a house and people can stay with us. This year we were living with our friend to save on rent so the living space and kitchen were tight and my parents had to stay in a hotel and chad's in the mountains. My sister wasn't able to come either which was unfortunate. However, she did send me that great FEED bag from feedprojects.org that I had been eyeing so for her gift I am very thankful!
While everyone celebrates different traditions across the world, I think the most important thing to remember is that Christmas isn't about the gifts or how much you spend it's about who you spend the day with. Since everyone is tight on money due to the economy it made sense for us to have a stress free game where everyone could participate and even if you don't go home with as much as you came with, you can still have a fabulous time. I really miss having all our family here and hope they return soon!