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Raging Pencils by Mike "Dickerdoodle" Stanfill

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start rant

That Dirty Old Santa

"Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will."
- Jawaharlal Nehru"

dirty santa by Gabriel MorkaThere's a gift-trading game that people play a lot this time of year. Our family calls it "Dirty Santa" but it goes by many names, like "Chinese Gift Exchange", "White Elephant" or "Yankee Swap". It's a lot of fun and if you don't know what I'm referring to you can read more about it at Wikipedia.

One of the big problems with the game is that if you're one of the first players to choose a gift, and it turns out to be particularly unappealing, you're hosed. The only thing you can do is hope a friend has a sense of humor and trades with you later in the game.

That's why I came up with a small variation I call the Trade Card. You play the game normally but each player gets a card, basically a marker that they turn in when they make a trade. Here's how it works:

(1) The trade card can be used to trade gifts between yourself and someone else, or to force a trade between two other individuals. This means if you get a cruddy gift you can trade it away. It also means, if you use the "three times and it's out rule", you can conspire with others to stick someone with a crappy gift. (Double fun if it's the person who brought it. Heh-heh-heh.)

(2) You can only trade for someone else's gift if you've already picked a gift. But, even if you're giftless you can force others to trade gifts whenever you like. This also means that those with high picking numbers are now actively involved with the game from start to finish.

(3) For sanity's sake the use of the Trade Card should be used only after a gift has been picked and all normal swaps have been made. If two or more Trade Cards are declared the judge can arbitrarily make a choice on who trades first.

(4) All Trade Cards must be used before the final gift is selected. Once the last person places his hand on the last gift, that's it.

That's all there is to it. My family tried it this past weekend and it worked well. In fact, the very first gift to be opened, by my older brother, was a fussy little set of candles.

Needless to say, he liked the Trade Card idea.

In case you're wondering I went home with a lamp, but at I least I didn't get stuck with the candle set.



end rant

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