This weekend, Andi and I hold our seventh annual Christmas party. We began this tradition the year we were married (in part to celebrate our swanky new digs but mostly to find a time in the hectic holiday season to tip a glass of good cheer alongside our close friends) and we haven’t missed a year yet.
Over time, we have worked the schedule to try and offset the myriad of other gatherings that we all field innumerable invitations to attend. While we used to hold the event closer to Christmas, we have tried to steer clear of the big day.
Of course, this experimentation has introduced its share of lessons learned. One year, we held it the very next day – December 26th – out in the wild frontier of Dudley but quickly realized that fixing the fiesta so late in the season was a dicey proposition, as a raging Nor’Easter took root midway through the party, sending some of our guests scurrying for safe harbor. Most made it, a few broke down and ate each other, and Andi and I took note of an important calendar concern. Therefore, we have since decided to position the party just after Thanksgiving.
While the party itself is your standard holiday affair, with a vast menagerie of friends (both new and old) jockeying for space in the kitchen leaving every other room in my home spacious and accomodating – I’ve tried to spice up each event with something special to remember the occasion by. The pic above comes from one of our first parties – held in our former home in Brockton. That year, Andi and I (and a growing group of friends) tried to schedule themed dinner nights as a loose excuse to booze. When we drew our straw, we decided to marry our dinner event with the Christmas Party and gave the entire evening a Mexican theme. Oh, you haven’t experienced pure unadulterated glee until you’ve seen Mookie’s eyes light up at the arrival of Papa Navidad and his great big sack (read that anyway you like).
Last year, we co-opted Festivus and had a holiday for the rest of us. While I didn’t get a pole to decorate the homestead (the garden shop was fresh out and I wasn’t buying one of those imitation ones), we did offer up the Feats of Strength (made possible by my newly procured Wii) and the Airing of Grievances – which I took the liberty of drafting canned grievances for anyone who didn’t come bearing a grudge. (Example – “When are you people going to leave?” – signed, The Two Dogs Staring at You From the Deck).
Early this morning, inspiration hit me where it often does – the shower. (Hey, while you’re busy using the shower for more practical purposes like cleansing your cuticles, ex-folliating your phalanges or waxing your washboard, I’m dreaming up game shows. Now I know how Wink Martindale got his start… and his name.)
Anyway, we’ve run a Yankee Swap since the dawn of this party and for the most part, it’s been a success. The rules have been simple. The gifts must be of the joke/gag variety and they must not cost more than $20. The point is less about procuring that must have item (let’s be honest people – your taste sucks!!!) and more about having a little spirited fun. As los ninos have joined the herd en masse over the years, the rules have been augmented a bit to remind people to try and keep these gifts clean. (Leave the Edible Panties at home but by all means, bring on the Edible Manatee.)
For this year’s party, I decided that while the Feats of Strength will return – with a Wii Tennis Tourney in the offering (and YES – BIG BIG PRIZES!!! – I just hope the entrants don’t already own Wasabi-Flavored Yoshi Panties) – we needed to mix up the Yankee Swap a bit. So here’s what I propose.
Ultimate Yankee Swap Fighting – Extreme Championship Home Edition
I know what you’re thinking. It looks like I just pulled a ton of random words out of the dictionary and mashed ’em together. Not so. There is a method to this madness. First off, is there anything more EXTREME than calling something EXTREME? So right there, I’ve driven the hipness quotient of my party to EXTREME levels.
The bottom line is Yankee Swap is old hat. Everybody does it. It’s like those tired old Christmas letters everyone sends out informing their friends and loved ones how much better they have it then you. (For those watching their box, ours should be hitting any week now – read it and weep.)
The other thing about Yankee Swap is it is much too polite. The whole point of the event is to reach deep down into your bitter Yankee heart and ruin someone else’s day by taking what was once rightfully there’s. Yet, how many Yankee Swaps have you been part of where someone unwraps a faux-pony fur oven mitt and proclaims it as their ‘precious’? I tell you what – I could open a 102″ Plasma and I’d gladly drop that on you for the pure unbridled pleasure of taking those Sea Monkeys away from their new family. Sucka!!!
So I decided that this year, I would jury rig the Yankee Swap to encourage a battle royale. As with every other Yankee Swap, we’ll draw numbers from 1 to 61 (or however many gifts we have). The person with #1 will choose first. #2 will pick a gift and will then have the option of liberating from #1. And down the line we go. When all is said and done, #1 will get the opportunity to look out over the great bounty of gifts and take from the selection.
But here’s the rub.
I have drawn up a series of Pop Culture Holiday Themed Trivia Questions. Each person – before they select a gift – will be presented with a question. If they can answer the question correctly, they move on to the next round. Those that get their question wrong are exempt from this side battle. After everyone has had the chance to answer a question, select a gift and then choose to keep or take (including #1) we will continue firing questions at those people who successfully got a question correct until we are down to one person. That person will then win a prize guaranteed to suck (I know because I’ll provide it). They will then be charged with regifting this new ‘gift’ upon someone else among the crowd and taking their ‘precious’ away from them – meaning the true winner will walk away with two gifts and someone else will walk away with the worst gift at the party. Nobody is safe. Not even #1 (unless #1 is the winner of the Trivia Contest).
The gift has been bought. The trivia questions written.
I’ll post the results next week.