How to Create Hair-Raising Halloween Fun: A You’ve Been Booed Neighborhood Gifting Game

How to Create Hair-Raising Halloween Fun: A You’ve Been Booed Neighborhood Gifting Game

A slight chill is in the air. Pumpkins are creatively perched on porches all over town. And though remaining socially distant, the neighborhood candy collectors will soon be dressed to thrill, safely hitting the streets on their sweet mission to fill their sacks all the way to the tippy top. From princess to pirate, minion to mermaid, as kids young and old eagerly anticipate the big night, the question of the season remains, “What are you going to be for…

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Good Secret Santa Gifts to Ask for When You Can’t Think of Anything

Good Secret Santa Gifts to Ask for When You Can’t Think of Anything

There are two very, very simple questions that always leave me stumped: 1) What kind of music do you like; and 2) what do you want for Christmas/birthday/etc.? I listen to music all day, dozens of albums a week, and have deep opinions on all of them, but can never remember a single one when asked. Similarly, there are a lot of things I know I want, but when it comes to making a list for Secret Santa, I draw…

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4 Secret Santa Party Themes to Up the Creativity

4 Secret Santa Party Themes to Up the Creativity

Getting into a festive party mood is rarely difficult if you’re a party planner like me. I’m always ready to see family, friends, neighbors, and college pals in person, online, or a combination of both. And I’m still particularly fond of Secret Santa parties especially when the theme is exciting and engaging for everyone involved. Sir Isaac Newton once said, “Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.” And I…

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LGBTQIA+ Podcast Fans Swap ‘Coming Out Boxes’ for Pride

LGBTQIA+ Podcast Fans Swap ‘Coming Out Boxes’ for Pride

As summer soon turns to fall, it’s hard to believe it has been over five months since we first heard the two words that would come to define 2020: social distancing. Way back when, as we abruptly hit pause on “normal,” our hearts grew heavy as we physically extracted ourselves from each others’ lives. Our minds looked for ways to connect while focusing on being vigilant about our health and safety. But here we are — our wiser selves —…

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3 Fun Gift Exchange Games for Family Gatherings

3 Fun Gift Exchange Games for Family Gatherings

My great-grandmother Irene set up games for us to play as a family during every birthday, anniversary, or holiday gift exchange. In the summer and fall, it was croquet in the backyard. The winner received their gift first, followed by those who came in second and third place. For birthdays, we’d play Dominoes or Uno. Only, she would pronounce it “You Know!” That winner would always be first for a white elephant gift exchange. She’d offer lemonade, cookies, and joy…

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How to Use a Pick Names Out of a Hat App

How to Use a Pick Names Out of a Hat App

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I have a lot of baseball hats that I’ve been wearing for a long time, showing off my love for the White Sox. I have hats I’ve been playing softball in for years. Running hats. Hats for just lounging on the deck and grilling in the heat of a sweltering August. You know what I don’t have a hat for? Reaching your hand in to pick names for a gift exchange. I mean, granted, any of…

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5 Children’s Gift Exchange Ideas to Get Everyone Involved

5 Children’s Gift Exchange Ideas to Get Everyone Involved

As an adult, you probably look back over your childhood and remember how you received so many gifts. Now, as a parent, you’re likely the one giving them. But, whether you’re on the receiving end or the one giving the gifts, there’s one thing that has likely remained the same: the excitement. Nothing beats the feeling of opening a gift or seeing the joy on your child’s face when they open a gift.   And, while you might be a pro…

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Secret Santa for Virtual Teams: Tips and Tricks

Secret Santa for Virtual Teams: Tips and Tricks

Before my office transitioned to all of us working remotely, we were planning our annual summer party. Each year, it’s always featured a competitive kickball game and a Secret Santa gift exchange—playing off the “Christmas in July” theme. Needless to say, this being 2020, our normal party isn’t going to happen. While there won’t be a chance to defend our kickball championship title, my team will still be able to participate in a Secret Santa for virtual teams.  As we…

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The Benefits of a Birthday Wish List App

The Benefits of a Birthday Wish List App

It always seems a little unfair that your birthday is only 24 hours long, doesn’t it? You wait a whole year for it, and even if you act all nonchalant, you know it’s coming. You’re waiting for it. And then by noon, it’s already half over! There should be a law making it at least 26 hours!  Well, even if they don’t pass that very reasonable and common-sense solution, you can still pack a lot into one day. You can…

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Top 10 Church Gift Exchange Ideas

Top 10 Church Gift Exchange Ideas

Church: it’s one of my favorite places to be. Over the years, I’ve realized more and more the importance of faith for my family. In the process, I’ve participated in many church social groups that still connect today, only sometimes on a virtual basis. From quilting ladies’ groups and Women of Hope to prayer teams and adoption ministry, I’ve enjoyed it. I can always rely on my connections to be there for me through thick and thin, without judgment. What…

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7 Great Secret Santa Gifts for the Boss

7 Great Secret Santa Gifts for the Boss

All right—Secret Santa time at the office! You’ve entered your name in the Secret Santa generator and are ready to see who you’re paired with this year. Will it be your friend in accounting? Your favorite lunch buddy? Or the new woman, who you’d love to get to know better? Oh, the endless exciting possibilities!  Oh, wait—you got your boss. Well, might as well quit and find a new job.  Okay, so you don’t have to be that dramatic, but…

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What Makes for a Good Wish List Creator?

What Makes for a Good Wish List Creator?

“Make a wish!”  That’s probably the most common line in fairy tales. But there’s something kind of weird about it…since the most exciting part of the story is when a wish actually comes true, we never expect them to. As fun as wishes are, they almost seem to contain their own nearly-assured disappointments.  But they don’t have to. If you’re holding a gift exchange, and you let people make a wish using the best wish list creators, they will almost…

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How to Do a Secret Santa Name Drawing with Exclusions

How to Do a Secret Santa Name Drawing with Exclusions

There’s a secret sauce to everything meaningful. Back in the day, the secret sauce for me was the ever-popular Big Mac sauce. There was nothing like it, and I ate it too often. Otherwise, secret sauce represents a unique feature or special quality that ensures a successful process. So, for a gift exchange, the secret sauce could be how you draw names or ways to set up everything just right to make your event special. Sometimes the most special moments…

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Small Secret Santa Gift Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Gift Exchange

Small Secret Santa Gift Ideas for a Budget-Friendly Gift Exchange

While many remember the pink piggy banks we had as children, I recall a big white elephant bank with a blue suit and a yellow cap. Not your traditional piggy bank, but I treasure it because my Mom made it in a ceramics class.  Today’s children may or may not know what it means to drop coins into the slot of an old-fashioned piggy bank, but there are still reasons to keep an eye on your spending. Maybe you have…

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How to Make a Wish List for Tweens

How to Make a Wish List for Tweens

Remember when you were approaching the teen years and had a regular pattern of calling out, “I’m bored!” I do! It’s just something about that age. While we can’t always entertain our kids, we can use helpful tools to fight boredom. I refer to them as “boredom busters.” It’s a tip I give to my friends who are parents of tweens. A “boredom buster plan” for you, your kids, and their friends can help you all survive downtime. Let’s start…

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7 Good Secret Santa Joke Gifts

7 Good Secret Santa Joke Gifts

I think the strangest thing about being an adult has been, rather unexpectedly, becoming a Socks Guy. I’ve taken to coordinating my outfits with my socks, and while there’s nothing too outlandish, it’s still something I think about. My wife is as surprised as I am. Where socks might have once been a joke gift, now they’re something I cherish.  That’s the thing about giving gifts. You can give someone something goofy and silly but also meaningful to them. You…

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What to Look for in a Name-Drawing Randomizer

What to Look for in a Name-Drawing Randomizer

Years ago, when preparing for a Secret Santa, we were drawing names out of a hat in my parent’s house. My uncle had made a big deal out of printing everyone’s name on squares that were the exact same size so that there could be nothing out of place. His perfect scheme was foiled a bit when he drew his own name, and started to put it back. It turned out that everyone had drawn his name.  When making the…

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Elfster Group Supports Black-Owned Businesses for Juneteenth Gift Exchange

Elfster Group Supports Black-Owned Businesses for Juneteenth Gift Exchange

“If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho’ we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.” – Martin Luther King Jr. Today, communities all over the nation will come together to celebrate an unofficial holiday — Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day, Liberation Day and Jubilee Day) — to commemorate the abolition of slavery in the United…

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4 Fourth of July Party Games to Add a Unique Twist

4 Fourth of July Party Games to Add a Unique Twist

Summer, summer, summer! There’s no better time to celebrate freedom, family, friends, and fun. But how do you throw a unique party everyone will love?  Fourth of July party games are joyful, engaging, and provide excitement whether you’re gathering online or in-person for a midsummer holiday celebration. You can even host a Secret Santa gift exchange with Fourth of July gifts as part of your patriotic tribute. Then, you’re sure to make this the best holiday yet.  4 Fourth of…

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7 Sunshiney Summer Party Game Ideas

7 Sunshiney Summer Party Game Ideas

As soon as the weather starts to turn warm, even just the first hints of spring, I start to get itchy. I love fall and actually really enjoy our cold Midwest winters, but I still cannot wait for warm weather again. I start to make summer playlists. And I start to plan summer parties.  Some winters and springs seem longer than others. We might not always be able to see each other in-person. So, when we can have a summer…

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Gift Exchange Etiquette You Should Know

Gift Exchange Etiquette You Should Know

I love hosting parties. Yet in the midst of planning, there are multiple balls in the air to juggle. Let’s face it—as a party planner, gift exchanges can be overwhelming. Without the right tools to get everything accomplished, it can feel like a lot!  Still, there are ways to make it much easier, including keeping gift exchange etiquette in mind. As trends come and go, basic gift exchange etiquette remains a critical part of the party planning process. The way…

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Disney Lovers Remind One Another They Are Never Alone

Disney Lovers Remind One Another They Are Never Alone

Relax. Take a deep breath. In. Out. Ahhh. Now think of your happy place and the people you’d love to be with in that place. I’m sure it is a moment filled with laughter, joy and a little sunshine. And these days, we could all use a little sunshine in our world. No doubt, the past few months have been a challenge. As we all faced the uncertainty of an unprecedented global pandemic and the challenges that come with that,…

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How to Find Secret Santa Gifts Everyone Wants

How to Find Secret Santa Gifts Everyone Wants

When I was a kid and beginning to buy presents on my own, it was easy to get gifts for my dad. He loved collecting old bottle openers, so I’d find them at local flea markets or antique shops. He eventually amassed a sizable collection of these kind-of-rusty antiques. I was proud that most of them were from me… until I realized that they were all from me.  That’s right; he didn’t collect them. He had maybe one, I got…

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