Red dinosaur meets white elephant

If your holiday office parties are bland and boorish, you’re not fortunate enough to work with the folks of Raising Arizona Kids magazine — who held their annual holiday party today at their offices near Scottsdale and Shea.

With salads and pasta from Macaroni Grill, there was no pot luck fare to worry about lugging along. But I was rather intimidated by the “white elephant” gift exchange, knowing that this bunch would never stoop to exchanging truly tacky gifts.

Worry about what to take nearly kept me from going. Knowing it’s a very fit crew, I figured something fattening might be the biggest elephant in the room. Or maybe industrial strength hair goop, since they’re all so perfectly coifed (including the office mascot, a pampered pooch who treated me to a “toe bath”).

I was heading to the party after dropping my daughter off at school figuring I’d hit the Phoenix Art Museum gift shop for a mouse-shaped cheese grater, which seems a nice balance of “white elephant” and understated elegance.

Because the museum is closed on Mondays, I wasn’t able to explore all those fun kitchen utensils that double as modern art.

But I did get to see the museum’s newest work, a giant dinosaur — shiny and red — inside a red cage. This work of contemporary Chinese sculptor Sui Jianguo is displayed on a lawn adjacent to the museum’s Central Ave. entrance.

Happily, the Heard Museum was also on my way to the shindig. There’s nothing “white elephant” about the museum’s gift shop offerings, but I knew I could find something whimsical and affordable for my discriminating magazine friends.

Naturally, I chose a turquoise flying pig ornament — an homage to the incredible magic it takes to put together a monthly print magazine and daily e-zine of such high quality. I got another, this one purple, for magazine publisher, editor and founder Karen Barr — knowing she’d appreciate the “when pigs fly” motif.

Forgive me if I’ve mixed up the colors here. I readily admit to being under the influence of Karen’s sangria, Debbie’s chocolate chip scones and Mala’s red velvet cupcakes (way to rock the icing in Hanukkah colors).

The woman who helped me at the gift shop was truly delightful, taking time to help me find just the right objet d’art (the flying pigs are works of Navajo folk art, and just one example of the museum’s many unique holiday ornaments). I expect to do a lot more shopping there.

But what of the “white elephant” gift exchange? Well, there wasn’t a dud in the bunch — except, perhaps, a little something involving toilets that I think I’ll leave for a braver writer to tackle. It was the humorous hit of the day.

Other gifts exhanged included photo frames (since we’ll all so adoring of our children). Jewelry (which I resisted stealing from Mala only to have Mary do the deed). Wine (for those, perhaps, who are celebrating children preparing to leave for college). And more.

Watch for a future post featuring fun “white elephant” gift ideas inspired by the world of art. And remember my little cheese grater friend at the Phoenix Art Museum — he’s mighty cute and still looking for a good home.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the magazine family that can make even pigs fly, visit the “About Us” section of our website. And remember that Raising Arizona Kids magazine subscriptions make great holiday gifts for new or experienced parents.

Coming up: Squishy tiles and children’s smiles