Last year we got this 1000-piece puzzle of toothpicks. We actually did try to put it together; it it was next to impossible, and by the end of January we still weren't very far and wanted our coffee table back, so we quit.
I was probably around seven or eight years old when I figured out how White Elephant worked. My sister Rachel, my cousins and I had just gotten new dolls in the normal gift exchange, and as the adults settled in to start drawing numbers for the White Elephant swap, I asked my grandmother if I could play too. She scared me off asking again for several years: "You can play, but you'd have to give up your doll to have something to swap for." Noooo thank you! I will just go play with my cousins and leave you grown-ups to your lame sad doll-less game.
It's definitely more fun now that we're all adults.
Because a lot of the gag gifts aren't seriously things that people want to keep, Rachel and one of my cousins came up with a second game, post-White Elephant. It's called, "Whoever hosts Christmas gets to keep all the gag gifts that people leave behind," and it involves the two of them tearing through the host's house, and putting silly gifts in the freezer, in the closets, under bedroom pillows, on top of the TV — anywhere to give the host (usually my aunt) some "fun" (for us) surprises over the next month.
So after Christmas is over — sometimes later that night, sometimes later in the week — my aunt calls us and basically yell-asks WHO stuck a Barbie with a tiny axe through its head on top of her TV. And WHY is there a battery-powered hand in her freezer. And WHERE did the tiny white lace-covered boot go because she KNOWS it's somewhere in the house and can't find it but she is sooooo getting her revenge next year (despite the fact that she will inevitably host again).
They're ridiculous Christmas traditions, but they're the kind of thing that make my somewhat-dysfunctional family enjoy being together.
Does your family do gag gift swaps?
*It's also called Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa, depending on where you live.