In order to avoid the inevitable pre-Christmas crunch of calls to mediate Yankee Swap or White Elephant gift exchange disputes, the Hamptons Police Department has trained a team of special, unbiased rules arbiters to keep local gatherings civil this year.
Over the past decade or so, the HPD has regularly been called to office Christmas parties and other gatherings to break up fights over Yankee Swap gifts, calming sore losers and attempting to keep furious co-workers, friends and family members from coming to blows over who should get to keep the best gifts.
“This has become so prevalent, we thought it necessary to create our new Special Arbitration Negotiation Team Advisors for Swaps, aka SANTAS, as a prophylactic measure,” Hamptons Police PR Director Rex Gallant explains, adding, “We’re strongly encouraging anyone hosting one of these gift exchanges to take advantage of the program, which is free between December 10 and 24.”
For those who don’t know, Yankee Swap/White Elephant/Dirty Santa functions like this: Each person brings a wrapped gift (all for the same amount of money), then they draw numbers and select gifts according to the order of their numbers. After the first gift is unwrapped, the next player may open a new gift or steal one of the previously unwrapped gifts. If your gift is stolen, you may than steal another gift or unwrap a gift, and on and on it goes. But there are certain variations and typical points of contention within that framework, often causing a great deal of consternation. “Things can get surprisingly ugly, considering this is supposed to be a fun activity among friends,” Gallant says.
Gallant notes that all SANTAS members have training in multiple Christmas gift swap variations, including all rules, and they will help establish said rules at each holiday party before the game begins. He points out that it’s imperative that everyone involved know how the swap will function ahead of time, and know how much they are expected to spend.
“We generally agree that gift cards, for example, are not acceptable, and that players should each spend the same amount of money on their gift—this means the actual money spent, so you can’t buy a $15 item for $5 when the rule says to spend $15,” Gallant says. “These are the kinds of things that end up inciting arguments and, sometimes, physical altercations, but our officers will now be there to stop such problems from occurring in the first place.”
Contact the Hamptons Police Department to reserve a SANTAS officer at your holiday party now.