Monday, December 13, 2010

Ugly Sweaters + White Elephants

I didn't have an ugly sweater for the ugly sweater party.  This is why:

Thursday I taught all day and babysat till late.  When I got home around 11 pm, I started baking for the holiday party the next day.  I made cookies till 2 am, and then finally went to sleep, only to wake up at 6-something to go right back to the high school and teach 2nd period, meet with a client I did an editing job for, and then hurry off to the party.

It was all I could do to put on my dangly Santa earrings and grab my tin of cookies.  In fact, I was so exhausted that I burst into spontaneous tears while talking to a friend/co-worker at the party.  D-e-l-i-r-i-o-u-s, I tell you.

Turns out, though, that only 6 of the 40-ish folks at the Community Works holiday party actually wore ugly sweaters.  I guess everyone else was too freakin' tired, like me . . .  or else all the hipsters in Oakland scooped up the ugly Christmas sweaters from the thrift stores cause they're ironic & cool.

These were the contestants:

my boss, the E.D., is the fifth from the left in blue
but she kinda doesn't count cause her sweater isn't really ugly

the very clear winner

If only I'd had my aunt Pat ship me some of her Christmas sweaters ahead of time!  She and I were discussing this last night, and she said that the Christmas sweaters she wears now (with Santas, etc.) are more "fashionable" than the 80's ones she used to wear (poinsettia vests, etc.).  I told her that we needed to be realistic, here . . . no Christmas sweater is ever "fashionable."  

So what do y'all think about White Elephant gift exchanges?  I love the idea of them, but I've run into the same problem over the years with the whole rotating gift exchange thing: some people bring good, serious gifts, and other people bring ridiculous stuff no one wants.  Ultimately, I guess it's just important that everyone's on the same page?

I always bring a serious gift (I brought a handmade table runner, earrings, and a turquoise necklace from Guatemala), but I feel like most people bring dumb shit laying around their house (I got a wrapped up Hershey's bar, which I promptly gave to another co-worker).  And while I can condone that if it's *really* funny, most of the time I think it just becomes someone else's trash.  What's your take on white elephant exchanges?

(As a side note, I can't hear "white elephant" without thinking of Hemingway's very intense short story "Hills like White Elephants," so maybe that screws it up for me as well.  Ha).


Diana Mieczan said...

Her sweater is really cool..I like it a lot! I bet your cookies were so yummy:) Big hugs

Ps: I am hosting a beautiful home decor GIVEAWAY today, just in time for Christmas!

Summer {Bisfor...} said...

omg! her sweater is priceless. you would have been so good at this competition.

i am so sorry that your weekend was so hectic. but this coming one, you will be HOME and you will be SMILING.

never did the whole white elephant thing. i know adam did once and they lady wrapped her gift so it looked like a wire hanger so no one wanted it but the kicker: attached to the bottom of it - movie tickets!

Faiza said...

ahh one more week until holiday bliss! i wanna see lots of pics of your awful dog and in exchange i will send pics of isaac!

that sweater was ugly. i love that it won!

i've had lots of fun with "white elephant" gift exchanges but have never heard them called that before. my favourite ones are when you have to get something from the dollar store. there always ends up being one item that is so coveted. one year with my family it was a kitschy gargoyle. loved that!

nicoleciomek said...

I find White Elephant can be really hit or miss. Like one year at a job I had in Vancouver we had a white elephant gift exchange at the office Christmas party - it was recommended to spend around $20. So, the crappy presents were bottles of wine - obviously not very crappy at all - and the good presents were things like an XM radio transmitter thing(yeah, way more than $20). I got a flask. It was a fun one.

But other ones I've done have been terrible as some people put together really thoughtful gifts and other people pick up whatever discounted DVDs or something from the grocery or whatever.

So, overall, i'm not a huge fan b/c i think people's ideas of gifts tend to be all over the map.

it looks like you are having a lot of holiday fun already though! Hope you have a great trip to Georgia!

Kara said...

Fantastic ugly sweaters! I've never attended one of those parties myself, so I don't know where I'd come up with one either if I were invited.

As far as white elephant gift exchanges go, I hate them. Especially with a diverse age group. If I had one with a ton of girlfriends, I'd be all over it - we have the same interests! But at work? With the entire office? Geriatrics and youngins alike? No thank you. If I wanted another tacky holiday decoration or cheap collection of bath fizzies, I'd go to Big Lots.

Kimbirdy said...

wow, that is one SERIOUSLY ugly sweater! how awesome!!! :) and yes, tis the season to be ridiculously exhausted. hang in there! as for the white elephant exchange.... yeah, i agree with you. it seems really fun in theory, but i've also seen some pretty horrendous crap get thrown in the mix with some really cool gifts. i think if people didn't call it a white elephant party, but instead just asked everyone to bring one nice $10 gift, that would solve the problem?

April said...

I haven't done that many white elephant exchanges, but I did a couple with friends at my own parties in high school and I always tried to make sure everyone was on the same page about seriousness/price range. That made it more fun, when you don't get... a chocolate bar? Sorry, hun.

Ashley said...

I dislike whtie elephant exchanges. I rather buy and receive something that is useful, cool, neat, etc.. rather than some junk.

Get some rest girl! =)

Micaela said...

why is it that when you are in search of an ugly christmas sweater, there is none to be found? i ran into the same problem a year ago and had to run into sears and pick up a clearance old lady sweater that wasn't necessarily ugly but something i wouldn't wear. Marianne went to a party this year and borrowed her co-worker's festive sweater vest :) making sure laura (coworker) knew she wasn't calling it ugly (since laura wears it to work! ha) but that it would look "ugly" on her since she wouldn't normally wear it lol i think she pulled it off! :)

on our thrifting date, me and danielle found so many and wished we had an ugly christmas party and joked about hosting one just to wear these hideous ones we saw :)

white elephant: i haven't done one in a long time but i used to go to my then boyfriend's work party and most of them gave nice gifts but there were two younger college students who thought it was funny to wrap up cheap thongs-- the first time funny but i would have seriously had something better hiding to go with it you know? i def. think they should always be nice :) that is my take on it!

what you gave was TOO NICE ;) but that's you, my gift giving goddess :)

i felt so bad when you told me you were so tired you cried-- i hate that kind of exhaustion but i usually feel better after crying and i hope you do too!


Mrs. Julius said...

Awww, too bad you couldn't find an ugly xmas sweater! Sorry to hear about how tired u were.

i'm going to an ugly xmas party this Saturday. It was hard finding an ugly sweater so I just got one from a thrift store that's red, green and black plaid...I know i'm not going to win. :P

I'm not a fan of that white elephant gift girlfriends and I do kris kringle but we email a list of things we would like for our KK to get so atleast we're getting something we want. Next xmas we're just going to put our money together and donate to a family that needs it or to world vision.

starnes family said...

I have never been to a sweater party.


I love them. Hilarious!

Crazy Shenanigans-JMO said...

I love the winner!!! That thing is priceless!

this free bird said...

Okay you got a wrapped up Hershey bar? That ain't right. The least they could have done is wrap you up a hipster Christmas sweater. I'm like you - I take it serious and then come face to face with a half used box of q-tips. That's when I start crying due to sheer exhaustion. Sometimes a flask at work seems to be the only solution at this time of year.

It'll be a flask clear through December 31st when I escape the Great White North.

You know what this means Claire.

May the force be with me.


Krystal said...

Hello!!!! Thank you for the blog header love for my christmas hat, haha!! Sorry I've been so MIA - I'm just catching up to things from a long weekend. I'm so behind on your blog! White Elephant parties stress me out - and I'm a serious gift getter too - and would be annoyed to get junk!!

homemade grits said...

dying laughing about pat's sweaters being more fashionable now and laughing even harder at your response! haha. love you and see you soon!

Mrs.B said...

love both of these traditions..."lovely" sweaters(always think of Mr. Darcy from Bridget Jones' Diary) and there is nothin' sweeter than a good ol' white elephant exchange...awwww Christmas!

the southern hostess said...

That sweater is amazing! Love your blog.

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

I have heard of ugly sweater parties but have never been to one!

vintch said...

just found your blog-happy new follower! LOOK at that sweater! oh my goodness;) i can totally see why you wouldn't have one for the party though-you had a very busy day! sounds like you had such a great time! what a blessing to have such great co-workers:)

bananas. said...

oy! the winning ugly sweater is fuuuuugly! did she make that herself or did someone actually sell that hideous thing to her? scary.

Marcie said...

OK, the winner has one ugly sweater! I love that candy cane. Did she make it?! How fun!

xo M

Meghan said...

Umm, that winning sweater is PRICELESS!

I am not a fan of white elephant exchanges either - or grab bags for that matter. I always end up getting crap I don't need!

drollgirl said...

can't even believe people run out and buy christmas sweaters for ANY reason! lol!

and white elephant gifts. ay yi yi. i guess they are fun in THEORY, but normally more fun for the giver rather than the receiver. i'd take your gift (it sounds lovely!) over a joke gift or a dumb candy bar...ANY DAY!

Miss Caitlin S. said...

I found the same thing with christmas sweaters! They are hard to find now! it's so funny... just all the rage. I remember the first one I went to in college, I couldn't believe how much I adored the idea of it and thought it was so funny, now I still do but it's so funny how it's everywhere! I love the winner's sweater, hahah, can you believe someone actually seriously wore that at some point? There's a woman in my office who wears that stuff all the time I'm like ugh, let me make you over! sorry off topic, I think it's key with white elephant to have everyone know either nice gift or funny gift- that is KEY. One time I didn't know for an exchange so I got a playgirl (hardy har har) but then I also put it alongside a really, really nice and cute journal. the girl who got mine only saw the playgirl was so bummed until she saw the journal and was like omg, good because I spent a lot of money! hahah, so i was like, welp, glad I covered both bases :)

Taylor @ The Undomestic Momma said...

I always hear about the ugly Christmas sweater thing and it sounds so fun! love your picks! Im going to have to steal this idea next year!

its simple love said...

I have been on the brink of stress slash no sleep tears this whole week! When you don't get sleep and your stressed running from here to there any little thing could set you off. Blurg. May we catch up on sleep soon. Love the pictures though! It looks like you had fun even though you got little sleep! And I adore white elephant parties! Even if people aren't on the same page... it's hillarious to see what people get! As long as you aren't the one with uncle fred's giant pair of underwear.


Oh, My Darling said...

Wow, the winner's sweater is gloriously tacky!

Brittany said...

those are some really good ugly sweaters. cute blog!