Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Holidays => Topic started by: Chia on December 17, 2012, 10:47:09 AM

Title: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Chia on December 17, 2012, 10:47:09 AM
Last night I went with my husband to the yearly holiday gathering for his residency program (possibly relevant note: since the program is 5 years, the attendees vary as people progress through the program. Also, as residents tend to work 80 hours a week, they tend not to be home much. As a part of the gathering, there generally is a white elephant exchange. The gifts for this range from funny to useful. For example, the gifts this year ranged from a niceish blanket to a snuggie and some silly movies. Then there was what my husband found in the box he wound up with.

He opened the box, and immediately this look came on his face: :o Inside the box was a live hamster.

Seriously.

Eventually, a starter kit for the little guy was produced, while my husband and I, vaguely shellshocked, tried to figure out how to make this work with Christmas travel plans, work, a cat, and a 16 month old daughter.

Bless the hostess for the party (the wife of the attending in charge of the program) for insisting on switching gifts, but the morning after has left me wondering.

While I know where the term White Elephant comes from, I feel as if there's a fair expectation that the modern tradition doesn't include live animals. Am I off base in this?
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 17, 2012, 10:54:04 AM
No, you are not off base. This is one of the stupidest things I've heard of in a long time.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Yvaine on December 17, 2012, 10:55:39 AM
This is just a hugely bad idea for so many reasons, and in some cases could end up with the poor animal not being cared for well. Bless the hostess is right!
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Lynnv on December 17, 2012, 10:55:47 AM
Last night I went with my husband to the yearly holiday gathering for his residency program (possibly relevant note: since the program is 5 years, the attendees vary as people progress through the program. Also, as residents tend to work 80 hours a week, they tend not to be home much. As a part of the gathering, there generally is a white elephant exchange. The gifts for this range from funny to useful. For example, the gifts this year ranged from a niceish blanket to a snuggie and some silly movies. Then there was what my husband found in the box he wound up with.

He opened the box, and immediately this look came on his face: :o Inside the box was a live hamster.

Seriously.

Eventually, a starter kit for the little guy was produced, while my husband and I, vaguely shellshocked, tried to figure out how to make this work with Christmas travel plans, work, a cat, and a 16 month old daughter.

Bless the hostess for the party (the wife of the attending in charge of the program) for insisting on switching gifts, but the morning after has left me wondering.

While I know where the term White Elephant comes from, I feel as if there's a fair expectation that the modern tradition doesn't include live animals. Am I off base in this?

You are completely NOT off base.  This was a horrible gift.  Thoughtless, stupid and downright rude.

And whoever got it should be stuck with the pet...but, given the lack of care, the pet probably shouldn't be stuck with him/her. 

Live gifts should only be given between people who are close (spouses, parents and children, etc) and even then only when there is a firm agreement that the recipient really wants to take on a pet (or, in the case of a child, that the parent is willing to be responsible for the animal). 
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: JenJay on December 17, 2012, 10:56:38 AM
I'd be pretty upset! An animal is not something you can just donate to goodwill if you don't want it. I hope the poor little thing ended up with someone who really wants him.

There always has to be that one person who ruins it. Twice I've participated in the "bring a gift in the $10-$20 range" parties only to end up with someone's garbage. One year it was literally a pile of junk mail and another year it was an old homemade Christmas decoration. A live animal trumps both of those, though. At least I could toss mine.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: turtleIScream on December 17, 2012, 10:57:51 AM
Someone seriously gave a live hampster? The number one rule of gift giving (even for White Elephant exchanges) is to not create a burden for the gift recipient. Especially if such burden involves moral/ethical repercussions. You cannot simply dispose of a living creature like you can a tacky coffee mug.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Black Delphinium on December 17, 2012, 11:00:02 AM
Man, I thought this was going to be about a plant or something...that is beyond normal.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Winterlight on December 17, 2012, 01:19:21 PM
Ye gods, what a horrible gift! The giver was incredibly thoughtless and dense.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: edgypeanuts on December 17, 2012, 01:29:39 PM
Wow.  As someone who has been known to lecture people about 'using' live fish as centerpieces, this would NOT have gone over well in my presence. 

My response would have been non ehell approved and I don't care.  Something along the lines of are "you freaking kidding me?" and "who is the jerk who thought this was a good idea?" would have probably been my first reaction.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Just Lori on December 17, 2012, 01:36:44 PM
I had a long response typed out, but I can sum it up easily:  No. 

Pet adoption requires planning and commitment.  Otherwise, no.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: SingMeAway on December 17, 2012, 01:51:46 PM
Why do I keep thinking that someone thought the white elephant give-away was the perfect way to get rid of an unwanted early Christmas gift to their child or something ::).
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: magicdomino on December 17, 2012, 01:55:13 PM
Why do I keep thinking that someone thought the white elephant give-away was the perfect way to get rid of an unwanted early Christmas gift to their child or something ::).

Or the two hamsters that the parents thought were both boys or girls turned out to be one of each.  Either way, I doubt the hamster was purchased especially for the occasion.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Betelnut on December 17, 2012, 02:32:56 PM
That is so inappropriate ...  Wow, what an idiot to do that.

Poor little hamster.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: doodlemor on December 17, 2012, 02:33:57 PM
POD everyone else.  Poor, poor little hamster.  I hope that the new home will be a good one.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Hmmmmm on December 17, 2012, 02:37:39 PM
Well, I must say, the gifter was taking the concept of the white elephant exchange to heart.  From what I remember a white elephant gift was one whose maintenance costs exceed its usefulness.  Or something you had received as a gift that you did not want.

But really poor planning. 
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: heartmug on December 17, 2012, 04:07:51 PM
Yikes!  My dd is allergic, so that would not be a "gift" I would be bringing home.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: VorFemme on December 17, 2012, 04:21:25 PM
Well, just when you think that you've heard "everything" - the idjits come up with something NEW & IMPROVED in the way of idiocy.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 17, 2012, 04:23:55 PM
I guess it does sort of follow the original "white elephant" idea.  Which, if I understand correctly, was that a white elephant was considered special and sacred, too special to allow to do work.  And yet it needed to be fed, and elephants eat an enormous amount a day.  So, basically, giving somebody a white elephant meant that they had to feed it and keep it alive (to do otherwise would be terrible, considering that it was a sacred creature), but they couldn't get any work out of it that would make it worth its keep.  It was a gift that would destroy you and your family.  I don't remember if the emperor didn't get that or if it was given deliberately to enemies.

That said, I think any sort of live animal is a horrible gift, and should never be given to anyone unless you *know* they want it *and* are happy to have you choose it.  For instance, for your spouse or child.  Basically in no other circumstance.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: VorFemme on December 17, 2012, 06:01:09 PM
I guess it does sort of follow the original "white elephant" idea.  Which, if I understand correctly, was that a white elephant was considered special and sacred, too special to allow to do work.  And yet it needed to be fed, and elephants eat an enormous amount a day.  So, basically, giving somebody a white elephant meant that they had to feed it and keep it alive (to do otherwise would be terrible, considering that it was a sacred creature), but they couldn't get any work out of it that would make it worth its keep.  It was a gift that would destroy you and your family.  I don't remember if the emperor didn't get that or if it was given deliberately to enemies.

That said, I think any sort of live animal is a horrible gift, and should never be given to anyone unless you *know* they want it *and* are happy to have you choose it.  For instance, for your spouse or child.  Basically in no other circumstance.

I understand that the white elephant was a gift from the king to someone who was getting "ideas" - think Snape saying "someone might think that you are....up to something". 

Being "up to something" got you a sacred white elephant - which should keep the person too busy with sacred duties and feeding the elephant to get up to anything in the political arena.....or so the king would be hoping.

Assassination was so much more hassle than handing over a sacred white elephant - not to mention messier politically.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Drawberry on December 17, 2012, 06:53:26 PM
Not only is that just plain wacky, but it's extremely dangerous. The gift giver is assuming that whoever receives the animal will: a)Want it
b)Care for it
c)Afford to care for it
d)not just let it die

As a youngin' I gave a Hamster to a good friend of mine, approved by her mother and all. The gift included food, the hamster, a cage, etc. Her mother, a woman I wouldn't trust to run a bath now I am much older, left the hamster in it's cage out on their apartment balcony in the middle of summer and literally cooked the poor thing alive under the sun.

I was torn. But my friend and her mothers uncaring attitude told me that even if someone wants a pet and it's approved that doesn't mean they SHOULD own one.

An animal isn't just a throw away gift, it's a living creature that needs care and love. It really bothers me when people flippantly gift live creatures in this manner. 
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: KenveeB on December 17, 2012, 07:02:30 PM
What a horrible, horrible idea. The poor hamster! I despise the concept of pets as Christmas presents. They should be carefully considered and chosen by people who are ready and prepared to have them.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on December 17, 2012, 07:30:26 PM
That's a terrible idea, live animals should never be given as surprise gifts.

 The one and only time I've ever given an animal as a gift was to a dear friend who had lost a cat several months before his birthday, and around his birthday time started thinking that he was ready for another.  For his 'gift', as previously discussed with all the members of his household (and him, so this wasn't a surprise) we took a trip to the local shelter and he chose a kitten; the gift part was just me paying the adoption fee.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Chia on December 17, 2012, 09:52:13 PM
It's so nice to know that you aren't out of sync with a decent portion of the world.

In case anyone is wondering about the eventual fate of the hamster, I got a bit of an update when my husband got home from work tonight.  ;)

The little guy wound up finding a home with one of the other residents, though she hasn't decided on if she'll stick with the name Cow* or if it will end up being named after the hamster from Bolt.

I'm glad that a good place was found for it. I wish we could have taken it home, but circumstances weren't really good for adding a teeny little guy to the house, since soon my daughter and I are heading up to visit family for Christmas and my husband would be working nearly constantly while we're gone.

*The little guy is black and white and partly patterned like a cow. Right after he first opened the package, someone asked DH what he was going to name it. "Cow" just popped out.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Tea Drinker on December 18, 2012, 11:12:58 AM
Just to complicate things, the gift of a white elephant was also considered to be an honor in some circumstances. For example, if the king gave a white elephant to the ruler of a neighboring kingdom, who presumably could afford to keep it.

The King of Siam gave a white elephant to President Lincoln. There being no room for it at the White House, and Lincoln having other things to worry about, he in turn gave it to the National Zoo.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Morty'sCleaningLady on December 18, 2012, 11:27:32 AM
Suddenly, the dollar store reject pen caddy (in faux brass) looks better.  Who would gift a pet to a stranger and more importantly, who would wrap it in a box?
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: lowspark on December 18, 2012, 11:31:00 AM
I've participated in many of these kinds of exchanges, some meant to be real "white elephants" as in, get rid of your junk, and some meant to be "good stuff" as in, something you'd be happy to receive. And I've seen (at both kinds of exchanges), some real doozies.

But I gotta say, this one wins the prize. It would be the last thing I would expect upon opening a gift and I'd probably scream. I would definitely just relinquish it immediately and tell everyone who ever wanted it could have and that I'd be ok with going home with no gift but there would be no way on this earth I'd take home an unsolicited hamster from a gift exchange.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Bookgirl on December 18, 2012, 11:36:14 AM
And here I thought that the live rabbit and all the extras (cage, food, etc) as our classroom's "basket" in the silent auction at the Halloween carnival was a bad idea.  At least the bunny wasn't at the carnival (it was a certificate for a bunny).  Poor little hammie, wrapped up in Christmas paper. 
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: exitzero on December 18, 2012, 11:44:41 AM
I've had hamsters in the past, and I'm sure one thing they didn't think about is that hamsters straight from the pet store aren't always tame. It can take a few days of gentle coaxing to get a hamster to trust you.

Throw a scared, boxed up hamster into a party where there is noise, and lights and who knows what else, they were lucky no one ended up with a nasty bite.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: artk2002 on December 18, 2012, 02:08:43 PM
It is *never* right to give the gift of a live animal when the recipient isn't wanting and expecting it. Kittens, puppies, hamsters, Komodo Dragons. Never.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: darkprincess on December 18, 2012, 03:41:39 PM
I host a white elephant party every year. There are usually 20+ people in attendance. We have had five instances of animals given and I wonder what people think.
1.) Sea Monkey kit
2.) Smithsonian Prehistoric Sea Monsters (allot like sea monkeys)
3.) butterfly garden kit
4.) frog terrain kit
4.) Betta fish complete with tank, food, etc

In the first two the kit comes with some sort of eggs that when put in water hatch to be the sea monkeys or sea monsters. These kits stay on shelves for years so I am guessing the eggs are dehydrated or something.
The second two require that you send in a coupon/voucher to the company and then they send you the caterpillars and the frog eggs.
The third was an actual live Betta. The person who opened the gift found a box with a note in it and then the person presented her with the fish/tank etc. The tank was set up to be something you could put on a desk at work, small, compact. I later on found out the Betta fish do not need a big tank, and are very low maintenance.

Each year these were the most popular gifts, They were traded many times before the end of the game. Due to the number of people attending I would be very surprised if someone ended up with one of them who didn't want them. In fact many people were visibly disappointed that they didn't go home with them.

The reason I am asking is I am the one who makes the rules for the exchange. In the past we have had to add rules when problems arise. I guess I have never seen a problem so after reading this I am wondering what people think about the gifts mentioned above.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: magicdomino on December 18, 2012, 04:09:42 PM
I think the betta tank is fine, as long as the betta isn't included.  Likewise, the frog and butterfly kits are fine as long as there is a certificate for the tadpoles and caterpillers, and not actual live animals.  An empty habitat isn't living.

I think the the sea monkeys are okay too.  They packed as dormant eggs, and can stay that way for months -- in the wild, they are desert animals that wake up only when it rains long enough to make large puddles.  So, technically, they aren't living, and can easily be passed to someone who wants them.  (Is this a bad time to point out that they make boring pets, but excellent aquarium fish food?)
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: dawbs on December 18, 2012, 04:12:21 PM
I rather dislike the betta because I find they take more care than people realize..and while in this instance many people wanted it, that wouldn't always be the case--someone could get 'stuck' with it.  And someone thinking "how AWESOME, I  want a fish!" at a party where they compete for one is different than being home, sober, reflective, etc with a fish and going "oh crap, now I have to figure out who can feed this sucker and make sure it doesn't become cat food"

The others don't bother me because the isn't a live animal.  It's the option to get/dehydrate and hatch/etc a live animal--one that the recipient can decline to ever exercise.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: EMuir on December 18, 2012, 04:18:39 PM
I thought the gift would be a betta too... wow.

And giving a betta is kind of a neat idea, if you believe that they really don't need that much space.  However, they really do need more than that, plus a heater:

http://www.bettafish.com/showthread.php?t=20058

In short, if it's too good to be true, it really is.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: magicdomino on December 18, 2012, 04:20:46 PM
I can't complain too much about the betta tank, because if this was the stealing type of game, I'd totally be going after that sucker.   :D  I want to choose my own fish though.

ETA:  I've had fish, including bettas, before, just need a new tank before I replace my last betta.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Sharnita on December 18, 2012, 04:25:29 PM
For all 5 of those I would say - no.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: VorFemme on December 18, 2012, 04:27:11 PM
Snarky and Evil had to ask, "was this gift exchange in a private home or a restaurant?"

"Because if it had been a SNAKE in that box at a restaurant....or even in a private home - you never know WHO is going to pick up the box.  Rodents are bad enough.  But even a tiny garter snake could really, really cause a panic....and a hostess might declare that she is never going to do THIS again!"
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: rose red on December 18, 2012, 04:38:08 PM
Poor little guy.  What if the package was shaken as some people like to do that?
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: CreteGirl on December 18, 2012, 06:46:11 PM
A fish is a betta idea than a hamster.   >:D
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Drawberry on December 18, 2012, 06:48:43 PM
RE: Small critters
There are a lot of small critters that people mistake as being low-maintenance because of their size. In some ways a small pet can be even more costly than a cat or dog. You can leave your cat or dog to roam the house all day unsupervised (for the most part) but you can't leave a hamster to it's own devices! it needs a cage, a large enough one to really be happy and not just one of those tiny shoe-box sized colorful plastic houses. It needs plenty of food and stuff to chew on, things to play with and run on, and bedding that has to be changed regularly unless you're prepared to handle hamster stank all day!

Fish, Betta in particular, are super misleading. When you see a Betta fish in those tiny dishes at a pet store it looks like they need little to no care at all but to raise them properly and give them long happy lives you need so much more.

Bottom line is this: Small animals are still living breathing creatures that need care and attention just like dogs and cats do in order to live long healthy and happy lives. They're not just throw-away animals that can sit around for decoration. That doesn't mean they're not cute or pretty or fun to watch, but it means that the animal being ALIVE trumps how much you want it to look 'pretty' on your shelf.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Kimblee on December 18, 2012, 08:37:47 PM
Wow.  As someone who has been known to lecture people about 'using' live fish as centerpieces, this would NOT have gone over well in my presence. 

My response would have been non ehell approved and I don't care.  Something along the lines of are "you freaking kidding me?" and "who is the jerk who thought this was a good idea?" would have probably been my first reaction.

Oh dear... you've brought back a some-what painful, some-what sweet memory.

A cousin got married and left all the decorating to his wife. So they ended up with betta fish in vases as part of the flowers. Color coded bettas. *eye roll*

As the place was getting taken down after the reception someone asked her "what do you want to do with all these fish" her response was "Oh just toss them down the sink. They're just fish."

I dropped my jaw and looked at my mom. I think I might have been about to cry. Then my uncle ran to graba betta out of the sink and dropped it into a cup, sloshing some water from a diffrent vase into it. He gave Cousin a look and ask the caterers to find him some containers to send these "poor things" to a good home.

PS: Its really hard to find homes for sixteen live betta. I ended up with one living in my tropical tank. It lasted longer than the marriage, although her fish abuse wasn't what broke them up.

On-Topic: Poor hampster. I hope the hostess will give him a happy home or find someone who will.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: DaisyG on December 19, 2012, 10:50:42 AM
My hamster was given to me as a present but I got the supplies myself and my husband took me to the pet shop and we picked out the hamster together for part of my Christmas present. This was almost 2 years ago and the hamster died last month (which I believe is about average lifespan). My parents also once bought my brother a budgie and all the supplies but mum and I were prepared to care for it if he didn't and we all knew he wanted a bird.

I don't think hamsters, birds, fish, tadpoles, caterpillars, etc. should be given as pets unless requested and the person is known to be a suitable caregiver or alternative care arrangements are available. The only exception I would give on live animals would be something like sea monkeys whose eggs can last without hatching for a while and could be passed on to someone who would care for them at that point.

I'm always upset about the goldfish given as prizes at fairs and so Kimblee's story touched me too.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Drawberry on December 19, 2012, 02:10:46 PM
Wow.  As someone who has been known to lecture people about 'using' live fish as centerpieces, this would NOT have gone over well in my presence. 

My response would have been non ehell approved and I don't care.  Something along the lines of are "you freaking kidding me?" and "who is the jerk who thought this was a good idea?" would have probably been my first reaction.

Oh dear... you've brought back a some-what painful, some-what sweet memory.

A cousin got married and left all the decorating to his wife. So they ended up with betta fish in vases as part of the flowers. Color coded bettas. *eye roll*

As the place was getting taken down after the reception someone asked her "what do you want to do with all these fish" her response was "Oh just toss them down the sink. They're just fish."

I dropped my jaw and looked at my mom. I think I might have been about to cry. Then my uncle ran to graba betta out of the sink and dropped it into a cup, sloshing some water from a diffrent vase into it. He gave Cousin a look and ask the caterers to find him some containers to send these "poor things" to a good home.

PS: Its really hard to find homes for sixteen live betta. I ended up with one living in my tropical tank. It lasted longer than the marriage, although her fish abuse wasn't what broke them up.

On-Topic: Poor hampster. I hope the hostess will give him a happy home or find someone who will.

I'd probably have started crying,shrieking, and desperately trying to save all the fish I could.

What an awful woman.

Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: magicdomino on December 19, 2012, 02:39:26 PM
My office just had its Dirty Santa exchange.  I am proud to report that no animals were harmed in the process.  Harming of employees may be another question, since the gifts included a bottle of chardonney, a box of "table red" wine, and a Crown Royal bag full of miniature liquor bottles.  Indiscreet use could result in hangovers (says the winner of the wine box).   :)
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Kimblee on December 19, 2012, 06:17:02 PM
Wow.  As someone who has been known to lecture people about 'using' live fish as centerpieces, this would NOT have gone over well in my presence. 

My response would have been non ehell approved and I don't care.  Something along the lines of are "you freaking kidding me?" and "who is the jerk who thought this was a good idea?" would have probably been my first reaction.

Oh dear... you've brought back a some-what painful, some-what sweet memory.

A cousin got married and left all the decorating to his wife. So they ended up with betta fish in vases as part of the flowers. Color coded bettas. *eye roll*

As the place was getting taken down after the reception someone asked her "what do you want to do with all these fish" her response was "Oh just toss them down the sink. They're just fish."

I dropped my jaw and looked at my mom. I think I might have been about to cry. Then my uncle ran to graba betta out of the sink and dropped it into a cup, sloshing some water from a diffrent vase into it. He gave Cousin a look and ask the caterers to find him some containers to send these "poor things" to a good home.

PS: Its really hard to find homes for sixteen live betta. I ended up with one living in my tropical tank. It lasted longer than the marriage, although her fish abuse wasn't what broke them up.

On-Topic: Poor hampster. I hope the hostess will give him a happy home or find someone who will.

I'd probably have started crying,shrieking, and desperately trying to save all the fish I could.

What an awful woman.

I was very tempted and would have if a fish had died.

Thankfully all fish survived the attempted homicide, and were relocated to happy homes after riding to my uncle's office in a bunch of sauce cups.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Black Delphinium on December 20, 2012, 10:27:56 AM
Next year, you should bring one of these  >:D >:D >:D: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/eb56/
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: mstigerlily on December 20, 2012, 11:25:24 AM
Next year, you should bring one of these  >:D >:D >:D: http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/eb56/

I have a firmly held rule that people should never give live pets as gifts. It comes from spending too much time with people who work as animal cruelty officers. 
Black Delphinium's suggestion would be a good exception.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: catgal on December 20, 2012, 11:18:17 PM
As someone who worked for an animal welfare organisation and who had to investigate animal cruelty, there is no way that I can support live animals as gifts. The only time that it is acceptable is, like other posters have mentioned, when the recipient is actively involved in the process and has the means and understanding to care for the animal.  I'm sure the person who brought along the hamster is a lovely person, but by not really thinking sensibly potentially put the hamster in harm's way. 
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: BeautifulDisaster on December 21, 2012, 12:38:54 PM
That's just...wow.

However, someone DID bring a live gift to a white elephant exchange I recently attended - in the form of two lobsters. It was quite popular and the person who won them enjoyed them immensely the next day.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: MommyPenguin on December 22, 2012, 10:03:23 PM
I can definitely attest to betta fish being a little harder to care for than I thought.  :(  My daughter bought a betta fish with her allowance, which we kept in a huge tank.  However, we tend to keep the house a bit on the cold side and we turn the heat off at night.  When the nights started getting colder, I noticed that the fish was looking a little less than well.  I talked to my husband and we ordered a heater.  However, when it came, I think I turned it too high too fast, and the water changed temperature too fast and shocked it, because it died.  :(  I felt really bad for killing my daughter's fish, and have promised her a new one when we move (the tank is drained right now).  And I will definitely have the tank preheated and ready next time, so there's no shock.  I had looked up the right temperature, but hadn't thought about the extreme change being too much too fast.  Poor Swimmy.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: Emmy on December 23, 2012, 06:02:51 AM
Terrible idea.  If an animal is given as a gift, the recipient should be aware, prepared, and willing to care for the animal.  It would be a terrible surprise to receive something like this, especially if it would cause problems and headaches arranging for the animal's care around traveling or a busy schedule.  I think a person who gives a gift like this is just as bad as a person who doesn't neuter their dog and tries to pawn the puppies off on others.  I agree that it is unlikely this 'gift' was picked just for the exchange and more likely an animal the giver just didn't wish to care for anymore.

Anyway this trumps the worst gift I have ever seen at a white elephant; a poinsettia plant with no flower, the stem was broken.
Title: Re: Live gifts at the white elephant exchange
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on December 27, 2012, 01:23:47 AM
I'm well-known as being a thoroughgoing animal lover by everyone who knows me, and I'd be flabbergasted if I were surprised with a pet of any kind.  That is not a good thing to surprise someone with.