The white elephant in the room |

The white elephant in the room

April in Glenwood
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
April E. Clark

Celebrating the holidays isn’t complete for me without a white elephant gift exchange. These are the kind of gifts that keep on giving and giving.

And giving.

The premise of the white elephant party is to re-gift something that may not be of much personal value but could be a treasure for the recipient. The white elephant gift can also be something comical or so highly desired by party guests it’s traded or snatched up throughout the evening.

I’ve seen some doozies over the years.

This year’s white elephant gift exchange was no disappointment. It was my second year to attend Clint and Jeannie’s December deck dance and white elephant gift exchange at their cozy homestead. This is one of those festive holiday occasions Carbondalians look forward to every year.

This party’s white elephant gifts are notorious for being funny and sometimes outrageous. The gifts are often repurposed from white elephant parties from years past.

That explains the wooden Scottish terrier-shaped lamp sitting on my kitchen table.

Or, they can be homemade and new, like the clear gelatin molds with nativity scenes suspended inside them.

Nothing says, “Merry Christmas!” like an individually sized baby Jesus Jell-O mold.

The gift I brought to the party was repurposed from a thrift store and was not an item from my own house. For this, my housemate is probably relieved, considering it was an extravagant and colorfully beaded curtain. When I stumbled upon the curtain in the basement of Miser’s, it took me back to the ’70s and my Aunt Patty’s boyfriend’s house. He had one hanging in his bachelor pad.

What single guy didn’t back then?

The beaded curtain, wrapped suspiciously, was one of the last gifts chosen. That could be because the metal bar that holds up the beads was sticking out each end of the wrapping and sort of gave it away. The gift caught the eye of my friend Briar, though, and judging by his smile, he really needed a beaded curtain in his life.

Who doesn’t?

I went for a package that had socks and a light pink candle shaped like a bison in it. But then I traded that gift for one of those lever-style corkscrews for wine so I would never struggle with a cork again. We’ve been known to have our issues in the past.

Then the party really got started.

My friend Dan wanted my fancy wine opener. I wanted to keep my fancy wine opener. In order for him to take it, he had to challenge me. This is where the December deck dance and white elephant gift exchange gets its fabulous reputation for being one of the best holiday parties of the year.

The challenges can be about anything. There have been dance-offs and hum-offs. This year, there was a snowball throwing contest and a constellation-off to see who knew the most about the stars.

The host of the party even had to compete in a push-ups contest.

There were also challenges to see who could name the most Colorado 14ers and who knew the most about “The Simpsons.” I challenged Dan with a tap-off, although we had to improvise because neither of us happened to being wearing tap shoes. I clearly won the dance portion of the competition, but my challenger decided to spice things up with the crowd by pulling a sneaky Magic Mike move and finishing his dance shirtless.

Totally unfair.

Skin has been known to win contests, though, especially if they happen on Spring Break in Daytona Beach. I won’t say what happened next. That information is top secret and reserved for the guests who were at the party. All I can say is I went home with that fancy wine opener and Dan will likely think twice about challenging me to a tap-off again.

Or maybe he won’t.

“April in Glenwood” appears every Wednesday. April E. Clark would like to thank the cast and house band of The April Clark Show Holiday Extravaganza, and the audience at Friday night’s show. What a blast. She can be reached at

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