5 Fun Games to Play on Eid

5 Fun Games to Play on Eid

Chances are, when you think about Eid, you think about sweets. After all, after a month of fasting for Ramadan, the candies and breads and sticky gooey things of Eid are extremely satisfying. Across the Muslim world, there are hundreds of traditional sweet goods that remind you of breaking the fast.  That’s not all there is to Eid, of course. Eid is about getting together with family and friends to celebrate each other and your faith. Ramadan is a time…

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How to Make an Easter Wish List the Easy Way

How to Make an Easter Wish List the Easy Way

I have a confession about Spring: I don’t actually know what a crocus is. I know that people start to feel the warmth of Spring when the crocuses bloom from the ground, but I couldn’t identify one. It’s probably green? At least maybe the stem?  What I do know is that Spring, to me, is defined by Easter. Whether it’s a late or early Easter, it always carries with it an air of warmth, of sunshine peeking through the clouds,…

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Top Secret Santa Ideas for College Students

Top Secret Santa Ideas for College Students

When I went to college—and yes, I can remember that far back, albeit dimly—it was both exciting and terrifying. I was exhilarated: I was going to get to meet new people! I was terrified: I was going to meet new people.  A lot has changed for college students since then, but that particular experience is universal. We always want to meet new people, but it can be scary and awkward. Whether it’s the first day in the dorms, the first…

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Secret Santa for Eid: Tips for Celebrating with a Gift Exchange

Secret Santa for Eid: Tips for Celebrating with a Gift Exchange

There are few religious observations in the world with the solemnity and consecrating power of Ramadan, with its month of fasting, observance, and dedication. Consequently, there are few celebrations with as much joy and happiness as Eid al-Fitr, held at the end of Ramadan. It’s a time of cheer, joy, and gratitude.  And while that’s the basic outline—fasting during Ramadan, celebrating at Eid—there is no one way to recognize Eid. How could there be? Islam is a global religion that…

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How to Host an Eggcellent Easter Gift Exchange

How to Host an Eggcellent Easter Gift Exchange

When I was a kid, I had some questions about the Easter Bunny. Now, Santa—I got that guy. Big dude, cool sleigh, lots of presents. But why was the Easter Bunny hiding eggs? Why did he want us to color the eggs first? And why was he on his hind legs?  That said, there was candy, so I didn’t question it too much. You want to hide eggs? Knock yourself out, Bugs. I’ll be eating some jelly beans.  But that’s…

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15 Secret Santa Options to Add Variety to the Game

15 Secret Santa Options to Add Variety to the Game

If there’s one thing I love, it’s variety. If there’s another thing I love, it’s giving and receiving gifts. Oh, and I also love my friends and family and music and parties. Turns out I love a lot of things, and celebrating them all requires that first thing: variety.  That’s why I love to do gift exchanges for different occasions. They don’t have to just be during the holidays and they don’t have to all be the same. There are…

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Host the Perfect Galentine’s Day Gift Exchange to Celebrate Sisterhood

Host the Perfect Galentine’s Day Gift Exchange to Celebrate Sisterhood

My wife and I were discussing whether she and her friends were going to do something this year for Galentine’s Day on February 13th, and we started talking about what they’d done in the past. Of course, we could only go back so far. After all, the holiday was invented by a TV show in 2010.  But it doesn’t seem that way, does it? When Leslie Knope first told us about “Galentine’s Day” in Parks and Recreation, it was so…

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How to Figure out What to Buy for a Gift Exchange

How to Figure out What to Buy for a Gift Exchange

I love giving people presents. When you pick the right present, it isn’t about buying. It isn’t about the person getting a “thing.” It’s about them being seen. Picking the right gift is a signal that you truly care about a person.  But when you’re in a Secret Santa, knowing what to buy for a gift exchange can be tricky. You may be extremely close to them, or you may not really know them at all. They could be coworkers,…

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How to Host Secret Santa on a Budget

How to Host Secret Santa on a Budget

I’m friends with a lot of artists and musicians. This isn’t due to any musical or artistic talent on my behalf—I can’t carry a tune to save my life and my drawings look like someone put a paintbrush in the mouth of a particularly hyper dog. Still, many of my friends are in the creative community.  So, when we have a Secret Santa party, we try to be cognizant that different people have different budgets. Some people have artist’s budgets;…

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Top 7 Gift Exchange Themes for Friends

Top 7 Gift Exchange Themes for Friends

Last weekend, we had some friends over. One of them was my oldest friend. We’ve been hanging out since we were wee lads, so for more than 30 years. We practically have our own language. At one point, we started to do a whole bit, as we tend to do, and his wife just turned to mine and said, “When they get like this, I just let them go.”  That’s the thing about friends: you have your jokes, your stories,…

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Tips for Being the Secret Santa for Someone You Don’t Know

Tips for Being the Secret Santa for Someone You Don’t Know

My wife and I first started dating in early July. But by Christmas we were already at the “let’s see each other’s family!” stage of things (cue: awwww). When she joined my family’s Secret Santa game and got my cousin Chuck, I was super excited. Chuck is great! Of course, she asked what to me was a surprising question: “Who, exactly, is Chuck?” Yeah, I had forgotten that she didn’t know everyone in my family. But that brings up a…

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The Best Ways to Draw Names Randomly for a Gift Exchange

The Best Ways to Draw Names Randomly for a Gift Exchange

My cousin, Laura, is probably one of the world’s worst Secret Santa players. She gets amazing gifts and is one of the warmest and funniest people I know. But every year, when we’d draw names from a hat, she would look directly at the person whose name she pulled.  She tried not to. You could see beads of sweat forming as she struggled not to look up. But then she would, glancing directly at the person. It was wonderful.  Of…

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How to Make a Birthday Wish List Online

How to Make a Birthday Wish List Online

Shortly before my most recent birthday, my wife asked me what I wanted. I went into my whole normal gruff routine about how “I’m too old for birthdays” and “All I really want is a nice dinner and some quiet time with you”—both of which were true! I didn’t want anything, until she actually asked me to make a list, and I realized there’s so much stuff I want.  That’s the thing with birthdays: if you’re like me, you may…

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How to Host a Secret Santa for Remote Employees

How to Host a Secret Santa for Remote Employees

I got my first job out of college in 2001. At our first Christmas party, we had a few people who worked in an office outpost at another city call in via speakerphone for a toast. We just had to assume they had a drink in their hand.  Needless to say, there wasn’t much of a holiday contingency plan for remote employees. That’s because the idea of remote employees was pretty absurd back then. Sure, some techno-futurists were predicting it,…

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What Christmas Games are Similar to White Elephant?

What Christmas Games are Similar to White Elephant?

There’s a famous old holiday saying which goes, “Gift exchange games are like sandwiches: everyone has their own name for them and by golly, I love them all no matter what.” Okay, that might not be an old saying as much as something I believe, but it’s still true.  See, there are a lot of gift exchanges out there. Some are pretty much the same game but with different names. It’s like sandwiches: a hero, submarine, grinder, and hoagie are…

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3 New Year’s Eve Gift Exchange Games to Start the Year Off Right

3 New Year’s Eve Gift Exchange Games to Start the Year Off Right

Saying the holidays are hectic is like saying water is wet. Everyone knows that. There’s so much hustle and bustle packed into a few short weeks. There are office parties and family parties and visits and shopping and more. New Year’s Eve comes almost as a surprise; like, “Oh yeah, now this.” That’s why we use New Year’s as a time to exhale, relax, and reflect. Our main tradition is to gather a small group of friends who we didn’t…

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The Benefits of a Christmas Wish List Maker with Pictures

The Benefits of a Christmas Wish List Maker with Pictures

One of the most frequent holiday-time conversations I have with my wife is when we’re out shopping and I see something I like. She tells me, wisely, not to buy it because what if I get it for Christmas? This is, of course, wise and sagacious and just, but it falls apart under the two prongs of my logic: I haven’t put it on any list. I’m absolutely going to forget it by the time I get home. Now, you…

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5 Festive Christmas Party Games for Small Groups

5 Festive Christmas Party Games for Small Groups

Normally, we throw a big Christmas party every year. But the holidays can be hectic, and sometimes we just want something a little more intimate. So last year, we decided to just have a handful of close friends over. And guess what? It was every bit as fun as our big party. A small Christmas party can be a joyful occasion, a chance to sit and talk to people while sipping from your mugs. It’s a chance to catch up…

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How to Use a Draw Names Out of a Hat Generator

How to Use a Draw Names Out of a Hat Generator

It used to be that every Thanksgiving, during the post-feast repose, we’d draw names for Secret Santa. People would write down their names and three gifts they wanted. We’d toss it all into a hat or bowl, mix it up, and pass it around the table to draw.  It was always fun seeing people look at their names and laugh or look around trying to play it cool. It was a fun tradition.  That’s why, when we moved to a…

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What are the Best Christmas Party Games for High School Students?

What are the Best Christmas Party Games for High School Students?

Being a teenager means living in a strange middle ground between childhood and adulthood. That manifests in a lot of ways, but it’s especially acute around Christmas. You’re a little too old for the childhood magic to swirl into your mind but don’t quite have the sweet nostalgia that makes the season so achingly beautiful for adults.  This isn’t to stereotype teens as too cool for school, or thinking something is “lame,” or whatever people my age like to say…

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How to Make a Hanukkah Wish List

How to Make a Hanukkah Wish List

Every year, our friends Greg and Becky throw a latke party for Hanukkah. Becky is Jewish, and they’re raising their children in that faith. Since the kids were born, it’s been interesting and fun to see the gatherings incorporate more and more of her family traditions. We’ve learned a lot about the history and importance of this joyful holiday. One question that often comes up from non-Jewish attendees is about gifts. Namely, “Do you have to give gifts for all…

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Top Inclusive Winter Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

Top Inclusive Winter Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

Every year, my wife and I host a Christmas party. We’ve got a playlist with both classics and obscure novelty songs, all the lights, a tree, eggnog, the whole nine yards. Over the years, it’s become a favorite tradition among our friends and family.   But last year, as we were making the playlist, we started talking about how weird it was that we only had Christmas music. After all, there are a lot of different holidays towards the end of…

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Best Christmas Wish List Ideas to Stay Organized this Holiday Season

Best Christmas Wish List Ideas to Stay Organized this Holiday Season

Not too long after we were married, my wife handed me a handwritten note, which I assumed, in my newlywed bliss, would be a poem of sweet nothings. Instead, it was a list of things like, “To-Do List (1),” “Writing List,” “Shopping List,” “List for Store,” “To-Do List (2),” and so on. It was a list of all the lists I had lying around the house.  This bit of sweet satire served a good point: I needed to get more…

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Fun Games to Play at Christmas with the Whole Family

Fun Games to Play at Christmas with the Whole Family

Last Christmas, I got together with my wife’s family. It was a great Christmas. One night, though, someone suggested we play a game, and some of the younger attendees immediately declared, “Cards Against Humanity!” Now, I like that game. With the right crowd, it can be a blast. This wasn’t it, though. Too many in-laws, too many people being uncomfortable, too many people not feeling like they could play at their highest (er, lowest?) level. A girl who just married…

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