8 Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Games to Play with Large Groups

8 Crowd-Pleasing Christmas Games to Play with Large Groups

When we throw parties, I want to make sure that everyone is having a good time at all times. So, I rotate between rooms and ping back-and-forth between groups. It’s pretty hard to keep up (“Were you guys just talking about Stranger Things? Oh, right, tax policy.”) and even harder to enjoy myself.  That’s why we now make sure there are games at the party, especially around the holidays, when parties get larger and more frequent. Games are really helpful…

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Dinner Party Christmas Games for a Holly Jolly Good Time

Dinner Party Christmas Games for a Holly Jolly Good Time

If there’s one thing my wife and I love, it’s hosting a dinner party around Christmas. We enjoy gathering loved ones around us during some of the longest and darkest nights of the year, bringing warmth to the table, clinking glasses, and raising spirits. It’s a burst of brightness.  Still, hosting a dinner party can be a high-wire act. You need the right combination of great food, lively guests who get along, and stuff to do. Once the plates are…

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9 Office-Safe Secret Santa Theme Ideas for Work Parties

9 Office-Safe Secret Santa Theme Ideas for Work Parties

When I was fresh out of college, a few years ago (ok, more than a few), I had a job at a consulting company. To make things more fun, they had a party committee. One holiday season, they set up a Secret Santa gift exchange and decided to do a theme. Fun, right? Absolutely. They were fun people!  But the theme they chose was British TV dramas of the 1980’s. Needless to say, not everyone knew what this theme encapsulated,…

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4 Ways to Draw Names from a Virtual Hat

4 Ways to Draw Names from a Virtual Hat

A few years ago, my wife and I hosted a tree trimming party. We had never done one before, so we looked up how to make our tree trimming party fun and memorable. Our guests were excited because we were one of the few in our circle of friends who had a real tree. So, perhaps carried away by the scent of pine (okay, and the egg nog), we expanded the party by adding a Secret Santa gift exchange.  What…

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7 Virtual Christmas Games for Remote Office Parties

7 Virtual Christmas Games for Remote Office Parties

I’ve worked two remote jobs. One was pretty isolated. There were emails and some video meetings, but I was pretty much on an island. I honestly can’t remember the names of the people I “worked” with. Needless to say, my motivation was not particularly high.  The other one? Constant chatting. Lots of video meetings. Regular check-ins. Weekly Fun Friday questions to get to know each other. I made life-lasting friendships there, even with people I’ve only met once or twice…

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The 5 Best Christmas Wish List Makers

The 5 Best Christmas Wish List Makers

I remember the joy of making a Christmas wish list when I was a kid. I’d think about what books I wanted, what toys I needed (needed!), which video game commercials had spoken directly to my soul. I’d give the list to my parents, who, as far as I knew, personally delivered it to Santa.  But after it was signed, sealed, and transported northward, there was always that gut-clenching moment when I realized I forgot something. Or I saw a…

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5 Tips for a Gift Exchange with an Odd Number of People

5 Tips for a Gift Exchange with an Odd Number of People

There’s nothing wrong with being odd.  For whatever reason, we tend to think “odd” numbers are, well, off. Even numbers are solid and divide easily. They have a graceful symmetry. Odd numbers? They’re weird and quirky. It’s right there in the name! I don’t know about you, though, but I like things being odd. It makes life more interesting. Odd numbers can be like Alice in Wonderland, taking you to weird and fun places.  And contrary to popular belief, having…

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How to Play Secret Santa with a Techy Twist

How to Play Secret Santa with a Techy Twist

My uncle sat there staring at us, like he did every Christmas, glancing at every upturned face with the suspicion of a trained detective. One by one, he’d look at us, trying to spot a clue: a twitching smile, a glance away, a tell-tale blush. He was trying to figure out his Secret Santa.  He never got it right.  Eventually, someone would just confess. Other people had gifts to open. That was our ritual: watching a person guess every name…

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School Leaders Make Kindness Count for Summer Gift Exchange

School Leaders Make Kindness Count for Summer Gift Exchange

Show of hands — who was afraid of the “big, bad Principal” when you were a kid? Growing up, I think we all had an innate fear of being sent to the dreaded Principal’s Office (and even worse, being singled out over the loudspeaker for our misdeeds in the process). Like a scene straight out of the classic tale of The Principal from the Black Lagoon, we contemplated horrifying rumors about the “monster” behind that office door. Just saying, but I think…

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Popular Podcast Fans Host True Crime Book Exchange

Popular Podcast Fans Host True Crime Book Exchange

Every True Crime Has A Story To Tell Professor Plum. In the Conservatory. With the Candlestick. Or was it Miss Scarlet who may have had a motive? Hmm. When we were kids, my siblings and I always loved to gather around our kitchen table for family game night, which most of the time meant breaking out one of our favorite board games — Classic Clue. After all, what kid doesn’t love to solve a great murder mystery? We all loved…

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UK Artisans Host Gift Exchange to Support Colorful Community

UK Artisans Host Gift Exchange to Support Colorful Community

When you love what you do, you bring out the best in yourself. And by putting your best self forward and standing out from the crowd, you can inspire the world. Throw in a spark of creativity, a splash of color, a whole lot of Girl Power, and the world will listen. Colorful. Bold. Playful. Driven. Each and every day, independent artists, makers and designers learn to cast aside inner doubt and insecurities to bring their cutting edge style and…

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The History and Origins Of New Years Eve Celebrations

The History and Origins Of New Years Eve Celebrations

Saying farewell to the old year and welcoming in the new is a celebration observed around the world. In most countries it takes place on January 1. The festivities usually begin on December 31, which we call New Year’s Eve, and continue into the wee hours of January 1, New Year’s Day. The most popular traditions include attending parties, preparing and eating special New Year’s foods, watching fireworks displays and making resolutions for the coming year. The History Of New…

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How To Be Happy During The Christmas Holidays

How To Be Happy During The Christmas Holidays

Putting the “Me” Back in Merry: 15 Self-Serve Holiday Hacks What have you done for you lately? Don’t worry, Elfster is here to help. Somewhere between the age of childlike wonder, and getting all excited about car insurance, the holiday ritual loses its luster of revolving completely around you. We’ve all watched this scene play out: One day, Little Starry-Eyed You outgrows your finest pair of footie pajamas, and what happens next? The grown-ups suddenly buck! At the first sign of…

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10 Secret Santa Strategies To Keep Your Giftee Guessing

10 Secret Santa Strategies To Keep Your Giftee Guessing

Playing dirty? Perhaps. Totally worth it? Oh, yeah! So you think Secret Santa is just a quaint little yuletide pastime, something akin to fireside chats and a merry jaunt around the mall in a tiny Victorian train? Don’t fall into the trap, folks. Secret Santa is, and always will be, a GAME. That’s right, a GAME. And in games, as in life, there are winners and there are losers in this game of strategy. A Riddle: At the end of…

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Get into the Spirit of Christmas Without Spending a Dime

Get into the Spirit of Christmas Without Spending a Dime

Christmas is the season of giving, but it doesn’t have to be the season of spending. If you’re ready to jump into the spirit of Christmas but don’t want to break your bank, try these fun ideas from Lauren Goldberg, founder and principal planner of New York-based Electric Celebrations. Get fancy… Dressing up instantly changes your mood and makes a regular trip out feel like a special occasion. Whether it’s your family shindig or brunch with friends, put on that…

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How To Host A Tree Trimming Party | Tips, Ideas and More

How To Host A Tree Trimming Party | Tips, Ideas and More

This year, kick off the holiday season a little differently by inviting friends and family to help decorate your tree. Tree trimming parties are a great chance to get into the Christmas spirit together, before the whirlwind of shopping, travel, office parties, and kid-related holiday programs takes over. How to Host a Festive Tree Trimming Party Check out these tips from expert party planners on hosting a festive tree trimming party—from a relaxed family-friendly brunch to a more sophisticated evening…

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Sparking Controversy: White Christmas Lights or Multi-Colored?

Sparking Controversy: White Christmas Lights or Multi-Colored?

Reflections on the only RIGHT answer. For all this talk of love and joy, nothing flips a switch in the hearts and minds of merry-makers like the same old holiday showdown that sets-off every season. We’re not talking about “Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?” Not “Eggnog or apple cider?” Not even “Harmless mall Santa or creepy old dude in a leisure suit?” (That’s a separate blog post.) The question in question is, of course: “White Christmas tree lights or multi-colored…

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Re-Think Your Christmas Newsletter | Ideas, Tips and Insights

Re-Think Your Christmas Newsletter | Ideas, Tips and Insights

Oh, look at that. Little Preston landed himself on the Honor Roll this year. What mirth, what joy! And what a load of self-serving humbug. Maybe you’ve noticed, or maybe you’ve skated by on the assumption that your life is that interesting, but Christmas card correspondence has reached peak redundancy in this age of constant communication. Social media gives us a platform to share, and over-share, life’s most moderately impressive moments. And yet, the barrage of bragging rights continues every…

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How To Give The Best Thanksgiving Toast

How To Give The Best Thanksgiving Toast

The tradition of giving thanks for bountiful harvests has been around for thousands of years, probably from the dawn of agriculture. Harvest festivals and thanksgiving celebrations have been recorded by peoples such as the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Chinese, Greeks and Romans. The Etiquette Scholar tells us the practice of friends toasting one another dates back to the Middle Ages. It resulted from people’s distrust of each other. Poisoning was so common that, as a cautionary measure, drinkers poured a bit…

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Fun Facts About Thanksgiving and Its History

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving and Its History

  Thanksgiving isn’t just about Native Americans, turkeys and watching football. In fact, turkey was not even served at the first Thanksgiving dinner. According to Charles C. Mann in his book, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, the first meeting between the Pilgrims and the natives was a public relations affair. John Carver, the first governor of the Massachusetts colony, and Massasoit, leader of the Wampanoag Nation, negotiated a treaty. In it, the Wampanoag Nation agreed to allow…

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How To Practice Gratitude For Greater Health and Happiness

How To Practice Gratitude For Greater Health and Happiness

‘Tis the season to give thanks, and it turns out counting your blessings is actually good for you. Tina B. Tessina, PhD, a California-based psychotherapist and author of It Ends with You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction, tells us,  “Happy people have an easier life, bounce back from problems, and generate love. Research demonstrates we are hard-wired to focus on problems, which creates physically and emotionally damaging stress.” But Dr. Tessina has seen clients improve their well-being by changing their…

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Halloween Candy Trivia, Fun Facts and History

Halloween Candy Trivia, Fun Facts and History

According to History.com, Halloween, an American holiday celebrated every year on October 31, originated in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). Over 2,000 years ago the Celts occupied what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and parts of France and Spain. November 1 was the beginning of the Celtic New Year. They believed that on the night before the New Year, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The Celtic priests, or Druids, built huge sacred bonfires…

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Fall Hostess Gifts That Will Get You Invited Back

Fall Hostess Gifts That Will Get You Invited Back

The weather is getting crisp and the days are getting shorter. It’s time for the new school year, new football season and Halloween. With all of the social gatherings on the calendar this time of year, we’ve rounded up some ideas for what to bring the host or hostess to make sure you get invited back year after year! Tailgate Supplies It’s football season, and that means it’s tailgating time! Don’t show up empty-handed to your next big tailgate. Instead…

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Books to Hook Your Middle Schooler on Reading

Books to Hook Your Middle Schooler on Reading

I’m a life-long reader. I was that kid who couldn’t put a book down. In sixth grade alone, I tore through every book Agatha Christie ever wrote. When I had kids, I just assumed I’d given birth to fellow readers. Imagine my surprise when, as my boys entered elementary school, they preferred (gasp!) playing at the park with friends to being holed up with a book. When my oldest was in third grade, I was so grateful when Harry Potter…

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