Secret Santa Themes for Family Gift Exchanges: Getting Everyone Involved

Secret Santa Themes for Family Gift Exchanges: Getting Everyone Involved

“We need to dust! And wash the curtains. And can somebody please find the other air mattress?” Our house was in a flurry of activity because we had relatives coming to visit. Not just one or two people, either—we were hosting 12 people at our house for a family reunion. Getting the house ready seemed to take days, but my sister and I cleaned faster and more thoroughly than ever before, fueled on by our excitement at…

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Create an Online Classroom Wish List: Gifts For Teachers

Create an Online Classroom Wish List: Gifts For Teachers

“You got how many totes?” I asked my best friend Rena, a fifth grade teacher. It was the end of the school year , and while she appreciated the generosity of her students and their families, it was a little overwhelming for her to receive so many gifts. A dozen tote bags, countless mugs, and enough Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to caffeinate an army were definitely a demonstration of her students’ affections, but also the result of parents shopping for someone they…

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Mother’s Day Gifts for the Woman Who Has Everything

Mother’s Day Gifts for the Woman Who Has Everything

What do you get the mom who seems to want for nothing? I find myself pondering this question every year. My mom doesn’t quite have everything, but she certainly seems to think she does, and it’s almost impossible to get her to produce wish lists on her own volition for her birthday , Christmas, and, of course, Mother’s Day. As someone who loves to shop and give gifts, it can leave me in a bit of a tough spot. I…

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Fun Earth Day Office Party Ideas

Fun Earth Day Office Party Ideas

Walking through the halls of my office building one day, I discovered something magnificent. While wandering down a rarely used hallway, I saw a door with a crack of light coming from underneath. I didn’t think there were any offices in that part of the building and, curiosity getting the best of me, I put my hand on the doorknob and opened it. To my surprise, the door opened not into a room but into a small outdoor…

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The Top Gift Ideas For Librarians: Celebrate National Library Workers Day

The Top Gift Ideas For Librarians: Celebrate National Library Workers Day

The room let off a golden, cozy glow that, when combined with its hushed atmosphere, quickly made it my favorite room in the school. The first time I saw the new library, I had visions of Belle from Beauty and the Beast as I looked wonderingly from towering shelf to towering shelf, each one filled to the top with beautiful stories. I wanted to read each and every one. Because I love reading so much, I became fast friends with the…

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Gift Exchange Gifts Under $10 That Feel Like a Million Bucks

Gift Exchange Gifts Under $10 That Feel Like a Million Bucks

“Wow! Ten dollars!” I was in 8th grade when my allowance received a generous boost from $5 to $10. Sure, it came along with extra responsibilities (vacuuming the stairs, how I loathe thee), but with those $10 in my hand, I felt like a millionaire. These days, $10 doesn’t quite seem like the incredible haul it once did. $10 is two lattes, a half-tank of gas on a good day, a sandwich. But there are still ways…

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Cool Gift Exchange Gifts Under $25

Cool Gift Exchange Gifts Under $25

“Another one?” I asked my coworker, Jenny, over the phone. “Yup, another one!” she replied, an uncharacteristic pep in her voice. She’d just told me that for the third time that year, my boss was holding an office gift exchange . The first time was for the holidays, the second for the anniversary of our company’s founding, and now, it was just something to liven up the summer doldrums . Jenny was usually a bit of a sourpuss, but she looked forward to the gift exchanges as…

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The Best 50th Birthday Gift Ideas for Dad

The Best 50th Birthday Gift Ideas for Dad

I’ll never forget my dad’s 50th birthday . Not because of the party, but rather because my sister and I have never had a better time poking fun at my dad (an incorrigible prankster, jokester, and pot-stirrer) for being “over-the-hill” in the weeks before and after his birthday. Though we had a blast making jokes, it really was an important event. With 15 years of parenting and more than 30 years of working under his belt, he had crossed…

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The Best Easter Basket Ideas for a Teenager

The Best Easter Basket Ideas for a Teenager

It was Easter . The doorbell rang. My sister and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes, but we still scrambled off the couch to see who was there. Like every year since we could remember, on our doorstep were two large and colorful baskets, left for us by the Easter bunny. Now, both of us were in high school, so our enthusiasm for the holiday had waned somewhat. It’s a lot easier to plan Easter parties for kids and toddlers !…

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How to Play Secret Santa the Virtual Way Online

How to Play Secret Santa the Virtual Way Online

I raced down the stairs of my apartment building to eagerly check my mailbox for what seemed like the 10th time that day. A gift from my Secret Santa was due any day, and I couldn’t wait to see what it was and who had picked my present. My best friends and I, scattered across the country, couldn’t be together for our annual Secret Santa gift exchange, but instead of giving up, we just moved everything online. It makes…

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Cool Tech Gifts Under $30 He’ll Love

Cool Tech Gifts Under $30 He’ll Love

Swat! Swat! I watched rapturously as my sister clicked around the screen. We had just gotten our first computer, a PC that came with a few floppy discs, including our favorite new game, Swat the Fly. God forbid we actually help our mom swat flies when summer rolled around, but this was cutting-edge technology! How far we’ve come since that first computer! These days, I have not one but two laptops, a smartphone, an e-reader…the list goes on…

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A Cupid Worthy Valentine’s Day Gift Exchange Game

A Cupid Worthy Valentine’s Day Gift Exchange Game

I’ll never forget the first time I got mail. It wasn’t in my family’s actual mailbox; I was at school, and it was Valentine’s Day . The feeling of happiness that washed over me as I took all the cards out of the little mailbox I’d made from construction paper was like nothing else. There were notes from all my classmates, a token of our friendship. Granted, I was 6 and it was mandatory that if you made a…

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Chinese New Year Party Games

Chinese New Year Party Games

Every year on January 1st at 12:00 am, I can be found usually wearing some outlandish dress, bright and bold red lipstick, and covered in confetti. It’s my favorite holiday, but it wasn’t until college that I realized not everyone celebrates the new year on the Gregorian calendar’s schedule. My Chinese-American roommate brought me home one weekend to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with her family, and I decided I wanted to find out more about the wonderful…

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National Have Fun at Work Day Game Ideas

National Have Fun at Work Day Game Ideas

I smelled the burning coffee before I saw it. My coworker Jana looked up from her desk and asked if anyone else smelled something funny; I took a big whiff, then bolted out of my chair and sprinted to the breakroom. It was January 2nd, and in my sleepy post-holiday state, I had forgotten to put a coffee filter in the machine! Going back to work after the holidays is always interesting. Summer is far away, everyone’s a…

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Super Bowl Football Party Games for Adults

Super Bowl Football Party Games for Adults

Super Bowl Sunday seems like a holiday to most Americans—there are even efforts to get the day after to be a national holiday . Many of my friends don’t even watch football, and they still love to celebrate the Super Bowl with a party, usually hosted by yours truly. In fact, I’ve made a list of common football terms and the goals of the game so my less football-savvy friends can know a little reason as to why there are so many large, muscular…

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Four Pampering Gift Ideas for Her Healthy New Year

Four Pampering Gift Ideas for Her Healthy New Year

Every January, as I sweep up balls of wrapping paper and Christmas cookie crumbs, I ponder how I’ll make a positive change in the coming months. Making New Year’s resolution is a fun and inspiring tradition for me, but my sister has been staunchly against resolutions for years, insisting no one ever keeps them anyway. However, this year brought some fairly serious health scares to my sister and she finally gave in, agreeing to make some resolutions to improve…

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Health and Fitness Gifts for Him to Kick Off a New Year

Health and Fitness Gifts for Him to Kick Off a New Year

I love my brother Sam, but wow, is he a pain to shop for! One year, I bought him a video game, but he never played it. His girlfriend Kelly later told me, in whispers, that he only played first-person shooters. I had gotten him the wrong kind of game! Then last year, he grew a beard, which he really got into. So I bought him a fancy beard grooming kit, complete with oils and brushes. When…

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The Best Yankee Gift Exchange Game: Ideas for How to Play

The Best Yankee Gift Exchange Game: Ideas for How to Play

“Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg!” I screeched as my sister and I dissolved into a pile of giggles at the lyrics. I’ve never been one to take the holidays too seriously, preferring silly Halloween costumes to spooky ones, Galentine’s Day to Valentine’s Day, and birthdays full of mirth. That’s why I’m obsessed with the funny, frenetic Yankee gift exchange game that I play with my friends and family every chance I get. While I…

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A Twist on the Secret Santa Game for Last Minute Christmas Fun

A Twist on the Secret Santa Game for Last Minute Christmas Fun

We gathered around my mom, anxiously shifting from foot to foot as she shook a red and green bag filled with slips of paper. On each slip was written a name—the name of the person we would need to buy a present for as part of our annual Secret Santa game . Finding out who I was assigned to was always my favorite part (other than opening my present, that is!). But after we drew names, my mom unleashed a…

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Funny and Festive Secret Santa Game Reveal Ideas

Funny and Festive Secret Santa Game Reveal Ideas

“Please tell me! Pleeeease!” my niece begged over the phone. We were two weeks away from Christmas, and she was dying to know who drew her name for our family’s big Secret Santa game. “The surprise is part of the fun,” I explained, knowing full well that hearing such words was agony to a seven-year-old. I remembered how, when I was a kid, my sister and I would conspire with our cousins to trade gift recipients and…

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Six Stress-Free Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips

Six Stress-Free Last Minute Christmas Shopping Tips

“Rockin’ around/the Christmas tree,” crooned Brenda Lee. I was making circles in the mall parking lot, and this was the third or fourth rendition of my favorite holiday song I’d heard in the time it was taking me to find a spot. Usually, I try to Christmas shop throughout the year to avoid these eleventh hour journeys, but I’d been traveling for work a lot that year. Now I needed to get gifts for everyone in the family—on the last Saturday before…

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Easy Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

Easy Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

“They’re here! They’re here!” my kids squealed, running between the just knocked-upon front door and the kitchen, where I was elbow-deep in sugar cookie dough. My sister was slated to arrive for a Christmas visit that night, but she was two hours early. Not to worry! I thought, remembering all the time we spent meticulously cutting out and decorating cookies when we were kids. I wiped the dough off my hands and ran to the door, flinging…

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A Festive Christmas Wish List Maker for Kids That’s Online, Free, and Easy

A Festive Christmas Wish List Maker for Kids That’s Online, Free, and Easy

When my daughter told me she wanted “the new Barbie” for Christmas, I should have known there was more to the story than that. I arrived at my local big box retail emporium and asked an employee to direct me toward the “cool new Barbie.” She led me to the toy section, then down a hot-pink aisle lined floor-to-ceiling with dolls. “They’re pretty much all new this year,” she said. I bought (and eventually exchanged) the wrong…

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Traditional Kwanzaa Gift Ideas to Make Homemade

Traditional Kwanzaa Gift Ideas to Make Homemade

I was in college the first time I was invited to a Kwanzaa celebration . Some girls in my dorm were hosting a Kwanzaa feast in the common room and asked if I wanted to come. Honored that they wanted me to witness this special celebration, I said yes. But in the days leading up to the event, I realized I didn’t know much about the holiday and decided to do some research. Kwanzaa first began in the 1960s…

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