I for one am NOT a fan of Dirty
Santa, that activity where, right under your nose, people exchange a gift you
gave them for one they like better. Anyone with even a modicum of manners knows that such behavior is just plain tacky. It is my fervent Christmas wish that
eventually Dirty Santa will go the way of friendship bread and fruitcake. But
just in case you're planning to attend an event involving this onslaught to
your holiday cheer and your ego, here are a few hints for surviving it.
|One-stop shopping for all your Naughty Santa needs!|
1. Dirty Santa does not mean Naughty Santa. My friends “Nola” and
“Nick” learned this the hard way. They were invited to a church party for which
they were to bring a Dirty Santa gift. They’d never heard of Dirty Santa and
quite understandably interpreted dirty as
naughty. They thought it a bit
strange that a church would be doing this, but, hey, it was a progressive
church. The pastor wore jeans and the “choir” was basically a rock band. So
snickering and elbowing each other like a couple of teenagers, they searched the
aisles of a marital aids store and selected an appropriately inappropriate
gift. Imagine their horror at the party when the first couple of gifts were
unwrapped, and Lola and Nick realized their social gaffe. This
unfortunate incident does, however, have a happy ending. This was indeed a
progressive church, and their gift proved to be the most popular. Which leads to my next survival hint...
2a. It’s all about the gift. If you remember nothing else, remember this: Dirty Santa
involves cut-throat competition and is best left to seasoned gift-giving
professionals. Unlike a White Elephant exchange, the ultimate goal of Dirty
Santa is to bring the gift everyone will covet and the one that will be stolen the
maximum number of times. If the gift you bring isn’t stolen at all, you brought
a dud. I brought a perfectly lovely scented candle to my first Dirty Santa exchange.
The first hint of my rookie status was that my gift was chosen last. I’d made
the mistake of not"staging" it properly, not placing the candle in a sparkly gift bag with a huge bow and
enough tissue paper to stuff a mattress. The second hint that my gift was a loser was the stiff
half-smile and unenthusiastic “Well, isn’t this nice” from the recipient. She knew, and at that point I knew, no one would be stealing that candle.
|Half the battle of Dirty Santa success|
is in the presentation.
2b. The $10 maximum is only a suggestion.
Like most interstate drivers, no one takes the limit seriously. If you properly
stage your gift, that alone can cost ten bucks. And bear in mind you’re up
against the pros here—those people who Christmas shop in January or who can snag a 42" smart TV on Deal Dash for about the same price as a ... well, a scented candle.
|Apparently, scented candles aren't coveted|
gifts among Dirty Santa participants.
2c. The pain is acute, and recovery will take time. Sadly, my first Dirty Santa experience didn’t end as happily as Nick and Lola’s did. It was March when the recipient of my gift informed me she’d finally lit
the candle (another indication of her excitement over it). I stood there with an expectant smile, waiting for her to tell me how it calmed her frazzled nerves or reminded her of a walk in a garden. Instead, I got, “My son came home and said, ‘Something stinks.’”
I guess it
could’ve been worse. My friend Norma, another Dirty Santa victim, once told me she
couldn’t attend a party, so she sent a crystal salad bowl with the instructions to
just bring her whatever gift was left. She got her salad bowl back.
The painful humiliation inflicted by Dirty Santa is a long, drawn-out affair. You must wait
an entire year to redeem yourself because, hello, there is no
Dirty Cupid, Dirty Easter Bunny, or Dirty Turkey.
2c. Only slightly less mortifying than bringing the loser gift is receiving the loser gift. (As in
poor Norma’s case, these events can sometimes occur at the same party and to the same
person, although it is rare.) From the moment you unwrap that gold, spray-painted Christmas tree made out of coat
hangers, you know there’s not a snowball’s chance it’s going to be stolen. When
that happens, Dirty Santa can become character building. There’s not a dang thing you can do but force a smile and mutter, “Well,
isn’t this nice.”
3. There is no such thing as “getting into the
spirit” of Dirty Santa. I can hear you saying, “Aw, Dee Dee, lighten up.That candle incident happened over fifteen years ago, and you're still whinging about it.”
There may be some truth to your accusation, but as far as I’m concerned, nothing—and I mean nothing—zaps the joy from gift-giving faster than this activity. Whoever came up with the whole idea surely must’ve been a cohort of Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch...before their miraculous transformations.
I haven’t heard
a lot about Dirty Santa lately. I think the trend is being replaced by Ugly
Christmas Sweater Parties, those activities where Generation X-ers and Millenials
make fun of the beautiful sweaters I wore until they started
having Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties. Please excuse me, I feel another post coming on.
|I believe that eventually Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties|
will become passe' and I can again wear my festive sweater collection
to all my holiday events.