CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Monday, NBC debuts its limited-run holiday game show "Take It All" at 9 p.m. It runs nightly through Dec. 14 and concludes on Dec. 17.
The Howie Mandel-hosted series originally was called "Howie Mandel's White Elephant," and that's basically what it is - only with much better prizes than what you'll find at your white elephant party. We're talking luxury cars, exotic trips, VIP experiences and other things worth thousands of dollars.
When it gets to the final two players, they can choose to keep all the prizes they have or try to take all of them. If they both choose "keep mine," they go home with what they've got. If one chooses that and the other chooses "take it all," the latter person gets everything, but if they both choose "take it all," they both go home with nothing.
Turning the white elephant gift exchange into a televised game show got me thinking about how other holiday-themed things could be turned into competitions for public consumption. Here are a few I came up with:
• "Santa's Workshop of Horrors" is a "Fear Factor" take on Christmas that would include things like relays over broken glass ornaments, eggnog chugging and digging through ornament hooks while blindfolded to find the one that's not hopelessly tangled with the rest.
For the gross-out factor, contestants would eat kiviak, a traditional Inuit dish in Greenland that's popular at Christmas. It's made from auks (seabirds) preserved in the body of a hollowed-out seal and buried underground for up to six months - until they're liquefied.
For the big finishing challenge, I propose an obstacle course: pull a giant sleigh around to gather all the "12 Days of Christmas" gifts, unload them in front of a fireplace and have one contestant climb up the chimney to the roof. There, he or she will untangle a mass of rope lights and use them to rappel to the ground, and when they touch down, the other contestant will take off to scale a giant Christmas tree to top it off with a star.
The winners will get everything on their holiday wish list -- all wrapped by the losing team, who must complete the task dressed in elf costumes.
• "Living Nativities" is an action-packed challenge drawing inspiration from various parts of the Christmas story. Things would start off with a nativity challenge: building a stable, swaddling a teammate and hunting for a tiny plastic baby buried in the manger's hay. To bring the shepherds and angels into the picture, teams would have to round up a herd of sheep and then assemble a choir of angels to give an impromptu sidewalk concert.
And it wouldn't be the Christmas story without the wise men, so to work that in, teams would gather sticks of frankincense and myrrh incense to be lit on a gold burner, using clues gained from the other challenges to find the materials' locations.