Organizing a Yankee Swap
December 12, 2003 11:52 AM   Subscribe

We have a Yankee Swap at work. Anyone have an idea on how to assign the picking order, other than drawing names from a hat? Make them earn the top spot.
posted by brent to Human Relations (9 answers total)
I'm not entirely sure what a Yankee Swap is, but if this description is correct I think it's a gift exchange. Depending on where you work and what the company culture is like, a procedure for "earning" the top (or rather, last) spot might be an employee ethics no-no, considering that gifts could be seen (in a certain light, with squinting) as compensation.
posted by majick at 11:58 AM on December 12, 2003

I can only imagine the political disaster of a Yankee swap in my office, what with partners and associates of various ranks. If the swap is among relative equals, however, a round robin tournament of quarters or some other drinking game might be fun.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:06 PM on December 12, 2003

electronic hat random name chooser
posted by machaus at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2003

At my previous employer's Christmas Party we did this, and we left it to the fates of picking out a number from a hat. Of course, everyone was very polite, but as it went on, the drink and the owner's Wife was egging everyone on to steal other people's gifts. It was fun, even if I did get a crocodile Hunter Bobble Head one year.
posted by plemeljr at 12:35 PM on December 12, 2003

If you want to get a little more elaborate, have two rounds of smaller gifts. The first time, go through the numbers in order, and the second time, go in reverse order. That way whoever gets screwed with the low numbers in the first round will have the best numbers in the second round. (Of course, it's up to you whether to keep the gifts from the first round "in play" in the second.)
posted by staggernation at 12:52 PM on December 12, 2003

If you are referring to what I think you are, we call it a White Elephant. I've never heard it called a Yankee Swap, though once I heard it referred to as a Chinese gift exchange. In our office, we bring gag gifts under $10 and draw numbers from a hat.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:04 PM on December 12, 2003

At my former place of employment we did a Yankee Swap (aka White Elephant, and Chinese swap, etc....) that was specifically for 'tacky' gifts. We didn't tell anyone how we'd assign the numbers until everyone showed up with their gifts, then weighed the gifts on a small kitchen scale and assigned the numbers by weight of the gift (heaviest got #1, and so on down).

Another department used to auction off the numbers for their swap, with all the cash going to help finance their holiday "adopt a family"

Brent seems to be from Boston, and I'm from Maine. Is Yankee Swap a regional (Yankee) term, I wonder?
posted by anastasiav at 3:07 PM on December 12, 2003

Im a yankee and ive never heard a gift swap called that. (NW)
posted by Keyser Soze at 3:37 PM on December 12, 2003

I've only ever heard "White Elephant" myself.
posted by oissubke at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2003

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