It’s approaching Christmas and I don’t have a list or a plan. I’m not too worried about it yet. This is the week that we start to get moving on that sort of thing at our house. We even had some snow on the weekend, just to make it feel a bit more like the holiday season.
Every year on the last weekend of November we have house guests for the weekend and a dinner party on Saturday night. It starts on Friday night with a local fundraising banquet that we attend with some local friends and some friends that come from away. Everyone comes back to our place on Saturday night for dinner.
This fundraiser – Ducks Unlimited – utilizes raffles and a silent auction. Most years someone ends up with a dubious duck related item from the raffle table (and occasionally we bid on some from the silent auction). We never knew what to do with the items, until one year we decided to re-gift them at our Saturday dinner. Now we have the ugly gift exchange every year. The only rule is that the item is supposed to be on display in your home for the year and then the next year you can find a new victim for it (think weird duck-shaped sugar bowl, creepy old man wine holder, ugly decoys, ugly mounted photographic prints). Even that rule is a little loose; I once hung the pictures on the inside of a closet for the entire year.
The way that you give the gift can be creative, too. Sometimes they are wrapped and exchanged at dinner, sometimes they have been mailed to the unsuspecting recipient, or items have been hidden during the party and not discovered until after guests have left (once shoved in a guest’s briefcase in his car, once hidden on our mantel), and last year one couple actually broke into our house and hid the items in plain sight (it took me a few days to discover the crime). I returned the favour during their Christmas party by leaving something behind in their display cabinet.
We’ve just recently started altering a few of the items as well, to make them more interesting. I altered an ugly mounted photo of a pond to include some rubber duckie stickers, and the pair of decoys that was hidden in our home last year came with little hand-knit toques and scarves. I quite like them now and will be sad to see them go. Maybe I could keep just one.
I look forward to this weekend every year – it’s pretty low-key entertaining. Lots of wine, finger foods, some kind of roast beast and a dessert. We laugh a lot – we all tell good stories, made even better by the stretch of time between visits and a few glasses of wine.
Also going on right now is our Secret Santa gift exchange at work. I work in a small office of 9 people, and this is an easy way to make things fun for the few weeks before Christmas. We draw names at the beginning, and for the next four weeks, we hide one gift every week for the person that we picked. The total cost of all four gifts is supposed to be under $20. It makes the weeks before Christmas a little more fun, and we all spend a few minutes each day searching for gifts. You can find someone else’s gift, but you let that person know that their gift has been found and can give clues if you want to help them find it. We hide everything from baking to gift cards – all wrapped, of course. On the fourth week, the gifts that we find remain unopened until they are all found and we have a tea break and try to guess all of the Santas. Sometimes it’s easy to guess. It’s hard to give baking away when your co-workers know your favourite things to bake.
Which reminds me, I’d better get something bought and wrapped and hidden for this week..