project: Marah

project management for the things that really matter

ah, the holidays…

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With almost every party I attend, there’s a holiday grab bag or secret santa.  These are usually all in good fun, but also ripe for disasters. . This fund  Recently I was at a party with a Yankee Swap gift exchange.  This is in some circles known as a White Elephant gift swap and can be a fun way to get rid of last year’s unwanted holiday swag.  The concern is that these swaps usually involve coordinating a large number of people with vested interests, (the prized gift) and a distinct lack of understanding of the exact rule set.

See, there are a whole bunch of ways to make a gift swap happen.  Google or Wikipedia “gift exchange” , “yankee swap” , “white elephant” and you will see what I mean. Plus, conventional wisdom says that if you ask ten people about a given subject, there are at least eleven explanations for how to do the task.  Add a little eggnog to the already rapidly shifting definition of how to execute the gift swap and you could have a colossal party disaster.

Walking in, we were asked to place a present under the tree. Hours later, as the number of presents were finalized, we were asked to pull a number from a hat. By this time everyone had forgotten about the presents, the exchange, and had no idea why they were pulling numbers from a santa hat.

The rest of the process was left to the interpretation of the gift swapper at large.  Basically, whomever spoke the loudest, or who took initative, ran the gift swap.  What would have helped immensely in this or any situation with a diverse group of participants and some variables (like egg nog and wassail)  is a clearly written and publicized set of requirements and instructions.  Three minutes at the color printer making cute informational signs can go a long way toward preventing confusion over the course of the evening.

All in all, it was all in good fun, and took just over an hour… and I got the gift I wanted. because, at the end of the day, it’s the little things that matter.


Written by marahrosenberg

16 December 2008 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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