A Freilichen Purim! Gift Basket Ideas to Celebrate Spring, Community and Life’s Joys

A Freilichen Purim! Gift Basket Ideas to Celebrate Spring, Community and Life’s Joys

Late winter and early spring are, for everyone, imbued with a sense of rebirth and excitement. It’s a time to escape the long winter—and look forward to the light. For the Jewish people, though, it means something more. It is the time for Purim, to celebrate when they were saved from annihilation at the hands of the Persians. It’s more than a party for the rebirth of spring; it is celebrating the miracle of existence. And what a celebration it…

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Board Game Community Puts Spotlight on Generosity

Board Game Community Puts Spotlight on Generosity

When I was a kid, my family was really into playing board games. For my brothers, I’m sure it was all about the strategy and a little “friendly” competition. For me, it was all about the tiny game pieces. (I mean, who doesn’t love the adorable Scottie Dog of Monopoly fame?) Those family game nights spent sitting around the dining room table talking, laughing and conspiring over the game board hold fond memories. The lessons we learned from being challenged…

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Host a Galentine’s Gift Exchange to Connect with Your Besties

Host a Galentine’s Gift Exchange to Connect with Your Besties

I miss the “good old days” — the carefree days, pre-Covid 19, when social gatherings were still a thing. I miss my girlfriends A LOT. I miss our hugs. I miss our monthly Book Club get-togethers at our favorite watering hole where we’d sit for hours, chatting and laughing the night away, sans interruption from kids & significant others. I miss all the stuff! But we all realize the need to keep our distance to keep each other safe and…

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Cookie Exchange Raises the Bar on Holiday Baking

Cookie Exchange Raises the Bar on Holiday Baking

Here at Elfster, we consider ourselves experts on pretty much “all things holiday” — we are elves after all! Picking the perfect presents, keeping tabs on Santa’s nice & naughty lists and helping your holidays come off without a hitch. You name it, we’re you go-to elves! But when it comes to creating sweet treats, we’ve certainly met our match!  We are super impressed and inspired by a group of over 200 talented and creative ‘Secret Cookie Elves’ who have…

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Why I Hated Gift Exchanges Before Elfster

Why I Hated Gift Exchanges Before Elfster

The first time I ever participated in a gift exchange was in college. I’m not sure how I escaped my entire life before that point without having taken part in one, but when I heard the rules for my very first White Elephant gift exchange, I took them very seriously. I spent a lot of time thinking of a gift that would be worthy of being “stolen” per the rules of the game.  What’s A White Elephant Gift Exchange? If…

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Secret Santa: An Old Christmas Tradition With Some Modern Twists

Secret Santa: An Old Christmas Tradition With Some Modern Twists

Secret Santa is one of the most enduring Christmas traditions across the world. In its purest form, it is a game in which someone gives an anonymous gift to a pre-designated recipient, then the recipient tries to guess who the giver is. The tradition is popular at office holiday parties, among groups of friends, and within families, and online. The exchange is often held on or just before Christmas in America and during the earlier weeks of December in the…

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Don’t Let Distance Deter You From Celebrating the Holidays

Don’t Let Distance Deter You From Celebrating the Holidays

Event planning is my happy place. In fact, when my husband tried to throw me a birthday party for a milestone age that shall not be mentioned, I couldn’t let him. Well, actually I tried for about a week, but sitting on the sidelines was killing me. I appreciated and acknowledged his effort but then promptly shoved him aside because he was in my wheelhouse and throwing a party is my jam! It was one of the best birthdays I…

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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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