White Elephant, Yankee Swap, Dirty Santa — depending on whom you ask, this holiday gift exchange game, by any name, is either a beloved and quirky custom that celebrates creativity and friendly competition or a depraved, cutthroat, miserly activity that brings out the worst in people. The reporter Jennifer Ashley Wright traces its history back to the 1890s, when the citizens of Delphos, Ohio, went all in on holiday “swap parties.” My advice for making an exchange more of a delight than a chore? Have some crowd-pleasing gifts in your arsenal: My go-to is a mini waffle maker.
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