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Betsy Kerekes shares about an annual post-Christmas event within her Catholic community. There's plenty of time to plan one with your friends!

Some years ago, a friend began hosting an Epiphany party, which encompassed a fancy tea with all the trimmings and a Catholic gift exchange, usually of books. This event has been one of the highlights of my year. It’s an excellent way for a group of women to get together for fun, fellowship, and perhaps a great new book with which to begin a new season.

Typically, this event involves the host soliciting folding tables and chairs to accommodate our blessedly large Catholic San Diego community. Everyone contributes food and dresses up for “high tea.”

Before the proverbial last needles of the Christmas tree fall, i.e., the Christmas season officially ends, we bring a wrapped gift to place under the tree. Books are encouraged, even if they’ve been pre-loved, but other Catholic gifts are welcome as well. This year, someone walked away with an artful and timely ornament featuring the Magi, while another went home with a coffee mug saying (to the best of my memory): “Lord, let my heart remain open, while my lips stay closed.”




This gift portion of the event comes after our bellies are full and we are as talked out as a group of women can reasonably be (or when someone nervously points out that we’ve left our husbands home with the kids for hours already). The exchange is run in a white elephant style. That is, numbered pieces of paper are handed out. Whomever gets number 1 chooses a present from under the tree. The second person can either steal the first woman’s gift or choose a new one from the tree. Gifts can only be stolen twice. If you steal a gift, you may not get to hold onto it for long if that was only the first steal.

It’s best not to get too attached. This game is good at instructing in the virtue of detachment. Or, as I recall having done once in the past, team up with a friend who lives nearby and who has a later number than you do to make their second steal a book you both want to read. [wink wink] But chances are, if you miss out on something this year, it will come back to be shared again next year. And if nothing else, snap a pic of a book cover and hit up Amazon (or a nearby Catholic bookseller or the publisher, if you really want to help your fellow Catholics out).


A great deal of fun and a nice way to end the crazy season of holiday parties with some solid Catholic mom fellowship. #catholicmom


This year, I was in such a rush to get ready, grab my food to contribute, and not be too late to pick up my carpool buddy, that I left my gift at home. “No problem,” my friend said when I arrived at her house. She dashed back inside for another gift bag and more tissue paper. She had five books in her gift bag, so she parceled a couple into mine!

There were others who weren’t as fortunate to have my carpool buddy, and therefore didn’t have gifts. But another woman opened her trunk and found various Catholic items to add to the pile, even if as decorous as those bags got were Trader Joe’s plastic bags featuring elf legs and feet! Regardless, through lots of generosity, everyone walked away with something more than just a smile, and the host had enough left over treats to make her family, relegated to the garage or bedrooms through the duration of the event, happy they’d made that small sacrifice.

The whole event is a great deal of fun, and a nice way to end the crazy season of holiday parties with some solid Catholic mom fellowship.

[Editor's note: Epiphany will be celebrated on January 8, 2023. You have plenty of time to plan an event like this with your friends!]



Copyright 2022 Betsy Kerekes
Images: Canva