Monday, December 10, 2012

Third Annual White Elephant Gift Exchange

Saturday we hosted the Third Annual Sweeting White Elephant Gift Exchange. We had a great turnout this year - about 30 people - and thanks to everyone who came and made it such a fun night!

Each year, I learn a little more about preparing for this party. Here are five tips I learned this year:

1). Drink dispensers are great. Make sure that it's closed before you start pouring in your liquids. And make sure it doesn't get too cold.... this beautiful container did not look like this by the end of the night. It shattered right across the middle and I still have no clue why. So sorry, Kelsey!
(Cranberry apple punch recipe - minus the vodka :))
2). Make more appetizers. We always ask people to bring an appetizer or dessert to share and then I usually prepare 1-2 appetizers and 1-2 desserts. But most people end up bringing desserts and the few appetizers we have go fast. Next year, I'll focus more on small, savory bites.
(Cheesy artichoke bread)
 3). Doing a hot cocoa bar? Get insulated carafes. Seriously, this was my life-changing discovery this year. Last year I made hot cocoa in a crockpot (amazingly delicious), but that meant the table had to be close enough to the wall for the chord to reach an outlet. And really, no one really drank it. I think it was too messy and difficult to ladle into cups. This year, I found these insulated carafes as a set at Home Goods for about $15. Best $15 I've spent in a long time. Not only did it keep the hot chocolate piping hot all night (the inside was still steaming when we opened it up to clean 5 hours later), but it made it really easy to serve. I made the same amount of cocoa this year as last - last year I threw out half of it at the end of the night, this year there wasn't a drop left well before the end of the night. Carafes, for the win!
(Crockpot hot cocoa - I did 1.5 the recipe and it worked great for our group of 30)
4). Bite-size foods go fastest. These little brownie bites and the bite-size cocktail weenies were gone before we even started the white elephant game. I think people don't want to cut a whole slice of cake or eat a whole cupcake, but have no qualms about enjoying a two-bite brownie with a strawberry on top. Small and portable is key.
(Santa hat brownie bites. Do yourself a favor and use the  Ghiradelli ground chocolate - it really makes an amazing difference. And throw in some chocolate chips for good measure ;))
5). Invest in a tiered serving tower. I did not. I got a cheapy cardboard one at Target. I wasn't pleased with this presentation and I feel like it really kind of hid the cute cupcakes I worked so hard on. And these guys didn't really get eaten! It's probably the best chocolate cupcake I've ever made and we still had well over a dozen by the end of the night. I'm wondering if maybe they were more accessible or presented in a better form, people might have been more inclined to partake.
(Best chocolate cupcake/buttercream, directions for reindeer decorating)
On to the gift exchange! My camera died part way through the night, so we only have a few.
Almost half the women at this party are pregnant. It must be something in the water. Here we are in order of due date (L-R: June - Finds out this week!, April - Girl!, March - Boy!, February - Surprise!, January - Surprise!, December - Girl!)
Camo toilet paper??
Someone please steal my candle.
Choose wisely...
A gingerbread house! Score! Too bad it got stolen two minutes later. 
Cute pancake molds
Jared's very excited about the Pursuit of Happyness
At least this year he got something he could model...
The marshmallow shooter was very popular. In the biggest upset of the night, Adam did NOT end up with it and the Fraziers got to keep it in the family.

Jealous of this.
Oh good. Paint samples. 
"Why I hate my Job," a perfect book for the guy currently looking for work.
"A deck of playing cards? Really?!"
I smell a theme....
And, of course, the crowning moment of the evening. This thong first showed up last year (making William turn bright red) and it's making a reappearance this year to much joy. If Adam doesn't use it, maybe we'll see it again next year.


  1. You are too adorable for words. Seriously. This party looks like a blast and you did a fabulous job being a pregnant hostess this year. I am impressed. Love those reindeer cupcakes.