Every year at Christmas time, before the actual chaos begins, a group of our friends get together for a progressive dinner. One house is responsible for appetizers, another house salad and bread, the next house serves the main dish, while the last conjures up a fantastic array of desserts complete with a side of hot chocolate, cider, coffee, or tea. The left over people who are not responsible for opening their doors help one of the hosting families. It is quite nice.
Our family has always volunteered to serve salad. I serve a very non-traditional dish of baby greens, fresh raspberries, candied walnuts, feta cheese, and a sweet raspberry vinegarette dressing. The salad was actually invented by my cuisine savvy husband but in his absence, I take the credit. This time he happened to be absent, but made it for the main dish and dessert. Every adult loves the salad while the kids (26 of them) scarf on the bread sticks and soda opting out of the fancy greens.
The last house, in addition to dessert and beverages, has every child participate in a gift exchange. Each child brings a gift worth $10.00 and a story is read as the kids pass the gifts left and right ending with a gift being traded by everyone. I took great pains in finding the perfect, creative gifts for our contribution. The children range in age from 4 to 15 so creativity is a must. I went to Wal-Mart and purchased the following:
1. A working gumball machine complete with two bags of gumballs
2. A bop bag that you blow up and "punch." It had sand in the bottom so it keeps popping back up after you punch it...great fun.
3. Etch-a-Sketch, a real classic!
4. Toy electric guitar. It made really cool electric guitar sounds and I thought the teenage girls would have fun with it if it landed in their lap at the completion of the game.
Well, my gifts were an utter and complete bomb. No one wanted them and every kid wanted to trade them at the end of the game. They shouted from across the room, "Who wants a gumball machine? Does anyone want this Power Rangers thing?" Only the Etch-a-sketch was deemed keepable.
We ended up with the guitar because I promised my son that I would return it and give him the cash. The bop bag was a failure beyond belief. It had a goofy Power Ranger printed on the side, and no mother wanted it in their house. Everyone fought over the one Webkinz, gift certificates to local fast food restaurants, and the sports equipment. Go figure. So much for trying to be creative.
Next year I am going to wrap ten dollar bills in elaborate paper and ribbon. I'm sure those will be a hit. I'm giving up on being creative.