Another white-elephant gift received.
Another white-elephant gift received.

   There are very few times in life where it’s entirely appropriate to dump your junk on your friends.

   I mean, how often do you walk up to someone you actually like and say, “You know what you really need in your life? This ugly lamp that I was going to throw out, but instead will give to you.”

   Not often — at least, not unless you want to be conked over the head with the same lamp.

   But there is one time-honored tradition that turns your trash into your friend’s … well, it’s still trash but at least they’ll take it with a grin.

   The white elephant exchange.

   At the Commonwealth, we know the game well.

   Years of Christmas party experience has made us either seasoned pros at the exercise, or desensitized us against good gift-giving taste.

   Hard to say which is true.

   When it comes to selecting the perfect white elephant gift, though, I never feel like the answer is straightforward.

   Should I go with something from around the house that’s no longer useful to me (but maybe to someone else), though its proper home is an incinerator?

   Or do I find something of use?

   Watching others white-elephant each other over the years at our parties, I’ve found gift-givers fall into a few different camps:

  • The good gifter, and
  • The “good-golly that item is an offense to humanity” gifter ...

Read the full column in the Feb. 13, 2020 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.