Christmas Gift Exchange - The Left/Right Game

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Harris Family started the tradition last year of filling a stocking with $10 worth of "stuff" for a stocking exchange among the adults in the family. Girls fill a stocking with girl stuff and boys fill a stocking with boy stuff. Because our gifts are gender-specific, we put them in color-coded stockings (red for girls and green for boys).



Because we weren't particularly sold on the idea of a traditional White Elephant exchange (where the participants are allowed to "steal" gifts from each other), we decided to exchange gifts using a Left/Right Game.

To play the game, the group sits in a circle, each holding the present that he or she brought. One person reads the Left/Right story (pausing each time the word LEFT or RIGHT is read). When the word LEFT is read, all participants pass the gift they're holding to the left. When the word RIGHT is read, all participants pass the gift they're holding to the right.

At the end of the game, each person checks their stocking to ensure that they have a gift that is intended for their gender. If so, they step out of the circle. Those remaining in the circle, pass their gifts left until they receive a correctly colored stocking. Note: if you are playing with wrapped gifts instead, make sure that they are clearly labeled with gift tags that say boy or girl to play in one group. Or, if you have a large enough group of people participating, you can split into two circles by gender to play.

Here's the Left/Right Game we'll be using at this year's gift exchange:

Twas the Night Right Before Christmas

Twas the night RIGHT before Christmas, when RIGHT through the house
Not a creature was LEFT stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung RIGHT by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be RIGHT there.

The children were nestled RIGHT snug in their beds,
while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled RIGHT down for a long winter's nap.

When RIGHT out on the LEFT lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang RIGHT from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I LEFT like a flash,
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
LEFT the luster of midday to objects RIGHT below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver RIGHT lively and quick;
I knew RIGHT in that moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
and he whistled, and shouted, and called them RIGHT by name!

"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! 
On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! 
Now dash away, dash away, dash RIGHT away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet RIGHT with an obstacle, mount up to the sky,
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew, 
with a sleighful of toys and St. Nicholas, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard RIGHT on the roof,
the prancing and pawing of each RIGHT and LEFT hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, RIGHT from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were LEFT tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung RIGHT on his back, 
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! 
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was LEFT drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held RIGHT in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a round little belly, 
that shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was RIGHT chubby and plump, a RIGHT jolly old elf, 
and I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself.
A wink of his LEFT eye and a twist of his head,
soon LEFT me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went RIGHT to his work, 
and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger RIGHT to the LEFT of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang RIGHT to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all LEFT like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he LEFT--out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

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