Secret Santa Tips to Help You Get Started with Your Gift Exchange

Secret Santa Tips to Help You Get Started with Your Gift Exchange

So, you’re running a gift exchange for your next party. That’s a great idea! Gift exchanges are an incredible way to bring people together, to engage in some light mystery, and to make a great party even better.  And here’s the best part: they can be really really really easy.  Running a Secret Santa doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to jump through hoops or spend hours wrangling people. With the help of an online generator and these…

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How to Run a Gift Exchange From Home During Social Distancing

How to Run a Gift Exchange From Home During Social Distancing

When social distancing swept over the world, taking us away from our normal lives, a strange paradox took shape. We began to connect more than ever.  I now have weekly video calls with friends and family that I could easily go months without talking to before. We have a Sunday Zoom dinner with my wife’s parents. People are even… talking on the phone! This doesn’t negate the anxiety we all feel, but it does go to show that we are,…

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5 Ways to Connect During Social Distancing with a Secret Santa Generator

5 Ways to Connect During Social Distancing with a Secret Santa Generator

When I was a kid, my friend, Dawn, moved to California. It happened when long-distance phone calls and snail mail were the only options to stay in touch. Still, we would mail trivia and fun paper games and activities to one another and so kept an entertaining connection. She became one of my best pen pals. And I still believe she was my Secret Santa for that top Secret Santa gift exchange in fifth grade! Nowadays, with the convenience of…

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Wish List Suggestions for Making Everything Simple

Wish List Suggestions for Making Everything Simple

When I was a child, I had a simple wish for a holiday gift exchange. I asked for a calligraphy set so I could begin learning the craft and sharing homemade cards with others. My heart was set on it, and soon, my wish came true as the gift I asked for arrived packaged with a red bow. When it comes to wish list suggestions and gift exchanges, things aren’t always so simple. In fact, sometimes you have multiple events…

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How to Socialize During Coronavirus With Long-Distance Games

How to Socialize During Coronavirus With Long-Distance Games

Every Saturday since social distancing started here in Illinois, my friends and I meet for an afternoon happy hour online. Some live a few blocks away, some in other cities. It’s great to connect, and it reminded us that we could have done this anytime. We don’t need a catastrophe to enjoy hanging out, even distantly.  Social distancing has, for millions of people, closed their physical world down to a handful of rooms. But what’s amazing—inspiring, beautiful, and deeply human—is…

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How Does a Name Pairing Generator Work?

How Does a Name Pairing Generator Work?

For someone who spends most of my professional time online, I used to be weirdly resistant to doing things on the computer. Maps? I was good with paper maps (even though it was super inconvenient). Finding a restaurant? Let’s drive around until we see something (even though we’d usually end up getting frustrated and grabbing fast food). Remembering the name of a movie? Instead of looking it up, have you tried not remembering and just going crazy?  Needless to say,…

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Coronavirus: How to Stay Positive and Connected with a Gift Exchange

Coronavirus: How to Stay Positive and Connected with a Gift Exchange

For some reason, most of my family members have birthdays over the same two-month period. Some even share the exact same birthday! So, for over a decade, we celebrated all birthdays together as a family. But in recent years, we moved to Texas, my brother moved to Nebraska, and family is here, there and everywhere. Plus, we’ve experienced some trying times and realized that what matters is to remain connected and celebrate even if we can’t physically be together. The…

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Top Gift Exchange Ideas for All Ages

Top Gift Exchange Ideas for All Ages

One of the best events we’ve hosted involved numerous family members and friends honoring a newly-engaged coworker. With a Caribbean-themed party and gift exchange, we went all out. My parents didn’t even know the couple getting married, but because we worked with them and the grandchildren were part of the fun, they were all in on the activities. With participants of all ages from various circles of life, it was one of the most joyous parties we ever hosted.  You…

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Cycling Group Going The Extra Mile For Frontline Heroes

Cycling Group Going The Extra Mile For Frontline Heroes

As we find our “new normal” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, stories of kindness, generosity and hope are emerging like spring blossoms all around us. Tales of ordinary folks doing the extraordinary sure to brighten our days, warm our hearts and help us focus on the positive. We thrive on the inspirational stories of communities coming together to spread joy, offering all of us a welcome distraction from the reality of these complicated times. And Elfster’s generous gift-giving…

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Can You Make a Wish List for All Websites?

Can You Make a Wish List for All Websites?

I’m a history fan, and one thing I love is how important the mail order catalog was toward settling the West. Before, if you wanted a shovel and the local store didn’t have one…well, you didn’t get a shovel. You might wait months until the next shipment. In the meantime, you just had to make do with a flat rock or something.  With the catalog, everything changed. You could order supplies and the burgeoning logistics network got it to you….

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5 Gift Exchange Party Ideas to Get You Started

5 Gift Exchange Party Ideas to Get You Started

“Congratulations! You’re running the office gift exchange!”  I recently had the pleasure of telling that to a co-worker as we were planning a remote office party. We’d been working from home for a while, so we decided it would be a cool way to keep everyone together. And even though I was the pro, we decided Jess could take the reins on this one. She turned a bit pale at the thought, but I reassured her that it would be…

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How to Draw Names Randomly Online: A Guide

How to Draw Names Randomly Online: A Guide

“Random” is one of those words that carries an air of, well, chaos. If you do something randomly, it seems like you’re doing it without rhyme or reason. Even its old definition, which meant “rushing headlong” and “going too fast,” implied a certain level of helter-skelter. So while random might be fun, it doesn’t always seem… practical.  That can be a challenge when you’re doing things randomly, like drawing names for a gift exchange. There’s just a lot that can…

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5 Creative Gift Exchange Themes to Liven Up Any Party

5 Creative Gift Exchange Themes to Liven Up Any Party

Recently, some friends invited us to a Harry Potter-themed party. They were very excited about it! My wife was very excited about it! I was very excited about… seeing people! But here’s the thing: I’ve never read Harry Potter. I only saw the first movie. Without any negative feelings toward it, it just wasn’t part of my life.  So, I took a crash course. And you know what? I had a blast. I dressed as Sirius Black because I love…

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How to Create a Wish List Online—the Easy Way

How to Create a Wish List Online—the Easy Way

My wife is a great list-maker. I am not. So sometimes, if she’s going to the grocery store, she asks me to write down what I need that week. I haphazardly think of the stuff I might want. Am I making soup? That probably requires vegetables. But without a system, I forget some items. Then I have to text her 30 times as I remember other things.  Making a list isn’t about just kind of jotting things down; it’s about…

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5 Out-of-this-World Star Wars Secret Santa Ideas

5 Out-of-this-World Star Wars Secret Santa Ideas

I don’t want to date myself, but I was excited to see Return of the Jedi in the theaters. I was young enough to be terrified of the Sarlacc and pretty freaked out by the Emperor, but at that point, it didn’t matter. I was a hooked Star Wars fan and have been ever since (so, like 15 years… right?).  I get pretty excited every May the 4th, and I bet you do, too. It’s the best day to have…

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Useful Wish List Ideas for Guys

Useful Wish List Ideas for Guys

Have you ever started this conversation with the guy in your life? “What do you want for your birthday?” Of course you have. The answer—for this or any special occasion—is almost inevitably, “I don’t know. Nothing? Yeah, whatever is good. Shoes? I think I need shoes.”  It’s… well, maddening for one thing. But for another thing, it’s never accurate. Guys, like everyone else, always want something. It’s just that they: Don’t want to admit they want something. Don’t want to…

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What are the Benefits of a Random Name Drawing App?

What are the Benefits of a Random Name Drawing App?

A few years ago, we were doing an office Secret Santa and were pulling names out of a hat. When my friend Hedda reached in to pull the last name, she fished through it before announcing that there weren’t any names left. We couldn’t find it and had to start over.  A few days later, the owner of the hat said it had been caught in a flap. He found it when it finally fell out.  I’m not trying to…

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A Guide to Secret Santas for Teens

A Guide to Secret Santas for Teens

Are you planning a party? They can get boring if you don’t have a theme or any games. Have you ever had a Secret Santa gift swap? They’re a lot of fun and a great way to get people into a party mood. Holding a Secret Santa for teens is easy to plan, doesn’t have to mean buying expensive gifts, and can be organized right from your phone. Whether you’re the one planning the party for your friends or if…

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5 Best Earth Day Gift Ideas for Work Parties

5 Best Earth Day Gift Ideas for Work Parties

I volunteer for the Party Planning Crew at my job. A few years ago, we were trying to plan an Earth Day party, and things started to get out of hand. We were going to have green eggs and ham, then tree-themed decorations, then balloons… and that’s when we realized we were forgetting the real meaning of the holiday.  Earth Day is a celebration of the planet and a renewal of our commitment to try to reduce our impact and…

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The Best Way to Make a Mother’s Day Wish List

The Best Way to Make a Mother’s Day Wish List

When I was a kid, I gave my mom a unicorn wallet for Mother’s Day. She asked me, “Is this a gift for me or for you?” Looking back, the number of unicorns in my collection was in the triple digits, while mom had exactly zero.  Fortunately, I’ve come a long way since then. Still, it can be tricky to figure out what to get for a mom who seems to have everything. The best way to ensure you pick…

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Is There a Wish List Maker Online for Free?

Is There a Wish List Maker Online for Free?

You know that feeling when you send an email and are gripped with the desire to take it back? I don’t mean when you accidentally hit “reply all” or when you realize you’ve attached the wrong file. I mean, when you have more to say, so you have to send another email. At that point, life becomes a series of revisions and additions.  It’s sort of like that with traditional wish lists. No matter what you’re making a wish list…

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5 Easter Party Games that will Make Everyone Hoppy

5 Easter Party Games that will Make Everyone Hoppy

When I was a kid, we used to play in the cornfields behind my aunt’s house every Easter. Then, when I was 10, the cornfields were turned into a subdivision, complete with a big park. This was extremely exciting. There were places to run around! There were swings.  But things were, well, changing. The formerly distant outpost on the outskirts of Chicago was becoming more of a suburb. It was time to update some of our Easter traditions.  Everyone has…

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How to use a Draw Names from a Hat App for Your Next Gift Exchange

How to use a Draw Names from a Hat App for Your Next Gift Exchange

Trading gifts with friends, family, and coworkers is so much fun that it’s hard to imagine how it could get any better. But surprisingly, it can!  You can make your next gift exchange party more fun by using a draw names from a hat app. Sure, there’s an app for everything these days. But a gift exchange app really does solve a lot of problems and can make your next party go a lot smoother.  How Does a Draw Names…

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The Top 5 Secret Santa Variations

The Top 5 Secret Santa Variations

I talk about the holidays a lot. It’s a magical time of year, as we all know. It’s not about the gifts (really!) and it’s not even about the parties per se. The holidays are about people bringing light and happiness to the darkest days and longest nights of the year.  And then? December turns in January, which slogs on into February, and the joy of the season slips behind you. But it doesn’t have to. You can bring that…

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