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Seasonal gift exchange brings students together

The White Elephant gifts exchange is a game and tradition of that goes all the way back to the Asian kingdoms of Siam and Burma. While white elephants are very rare and difficult to find, they were also seen as sacred and holy.

Feather Staff | The Feather Online

Feather staff participates in a white elephant gift exchange, dinner and a toast at the annual Christmas party, Dec. 10, 2017.

If you received a white elephant from the king, it was viewed as a great honor, but also a burden. A white elephant is very hard to take care of and only the wealthiest people in the kingdom were able to afford to keep them.

However, if a king disliked someone, they might gift them a white elephant and eventually, if that individual was not financially stable, they would go into debt because of the great cost to maintain them. 

This idea of giving a petty gift to someone stuck and now takes place in many Christmas parties in various settings. White elephant gift exchange can either be given in humor, or actually be a quality gift everyone fights for. This party game comes up in office parties, family get-togethers and Christmas gatherings.

Junior Bekah Micu shares her experience with the game. Micu views it as an entertaining game where friends and family can bond.

“I played white elephant at coach Matt Markarian’s house with the soccer team,” Micu said. “It was a good experience because it made us bond as a team and created fun memories. I brought a picture of my brother, John Micu and an In-n-Out gift card. I got Jojo Siwa 12 days of Christmas socks. My favorite part of white elephant is seeing the creative gifts people bring and how creative they can get.”

White elephant started as an interesting idea to bring people closer together. The rules of white elephant are simple: Everyone at the gathering brings a gift that ranges in a previously discussed price range. The gifts are piled together and set in place for the game to begin.

Typically, number are drawn out of a hat to find the order of people to pick presents. The first person picks the gift they want. The next in line can either steal that item just opened, or unwrap a different present. The items can only be stolen twice and then it becomes “frozen.”

In the following podcast Annabelle Messer interviews juniors Kayla Vanderlinden, Angel Ruelas and Charles Gong about their experiences with white elephant.

Sophomore Andrew Moore unfortunately did not have the best experience with the game. Moore explains how someone stole a hat he really wanted.

“My white elephant experience was a a fun one but at the same time kind of disappointing,” Moore said. “I was about to win a really cool hat that I really wanted but then someone stole the gift from me and I ended up with a pair of Christmas socks. I personally recommend white elephant because I think it is a fun game between friends but sadly my experience was not the best.”

There are many places you can buy a white elephant gift from thrift stores to places like Dollar Tree. White elephant is a time for your creativity to soar.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

The White Elephant gift exchange game offers a unique way to get into the holiday spirit.

List of thrift stores in Fresno:

List of white elephant gift ideas:

Awkward Family Photos 2019 Day-to-Day Calendar: This gift is under $10 and everyone can share a good laugh.

Fuzzy socks: Under $5 and is super easy to find last-minute.

Coffee mugs: Usually under $15 and can be funny or cute.

T-shirts: Under $20, a little more expensive but you can make it a creative gift by personalizing.

Singing tooth brush: Under $5, everyone needs a tooth brush, and one that sings is way more fun.

Gift Cards: Gift cards are always a super easy option.

Sunglasses: Under $5 or $1o and very useful, plus you can pick out a funky pair.

Happy holidays from The Feather Online!

For more Christmas pieces, check out Student Christmas traditions 2018 and Countdown to Christmas: Local fun stuff to do.

Annabelle Messer can be reached via email or Twitter.

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