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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Can I Make a Wish List Using Multiple Websites?

Can I Make a Wish List Using Multiple Websites?

Nobody is into just one thing. Everyone has a lot of hobbies, passions, and interests. A woman in our building loves our local football team—like, to the point where I’m worried about structural damage. But she’s also a huge outdoors fan and knows more about wild mushrooms than anyone I’ve ever talked to.  That’s part of the joy and diversity of life, but it doesn’t always make shopping for someone easy. After all, if they’re putting together a list, it…

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7 Secret Santa Yoga Gifts for the Yogi in Your Life

7 Secret Santa Yoga Gifts for the Yogi in Your Life

One of the cool things about getting older is seeing things change. The other day, my wife and I were having sushi, and I thought about how so many comedies from the 80s had sushi as a signifier of laughable snobbery. Now that’s unimaginable. We scarf it down while watching football. It’s a normal (and delicious) thing to eat.  It’s the same with yoga. Not too long ago, people thought yoga was weird and just for crunchy granola types. That…

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Types of Gift Exchanges that’ll Spice Up Any Event

Types of Gift Exchanges that’ll Spice Up Any Event

This summer, we hosted a BBQ, and the invitation said we were going to do a gift exchange. A friend texted to ask what the occasion was, and I had to explain that there wasn’t an occasion. It was just that 1) people like getting gifts, and 2) gift exchanges are fun.  Those, to me, are universal truths. You don’t need it to be a holiday to have a gift exchange, and no matter what kind of event you’re having,…

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How to Create a Christmas Wish List that will Simplify Your Shopping

How to Create a Christmas Wish List that will Simplify Your Shopping

If you’re like me, then your excitement about Christmas shopping looks like one of those stock market charts from the 1920s. It starts out going up because you’re excited about getting things for people and embracing the festivities. Then, eventually, it kind of crashes. The stress of trying to get everything done can become overwhelming.  You probably don’t want your loved ones to experience that kind of stress when shopping for you, so you’re always looking to simplify your list….

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5 Unique Gift Exchange Themes for Adults

5 Unique Gift Exchange Themes for Adults

One of the great joys in life is having old friends. Knowing people for years—or decades—gives you a perspective on life that gets richer as you age. One of the other great joys of life is making new friends. Creating friendships as an adult gives you a whole new shared language to develop.  Friendships are as important for adults as they are for children, and one of my life philosophies is that they should be celebrated. One way to do…

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Why You Should Use an Electronic Way to Draw Names from a Hat

Why You Should Use an Electronic Way to Draw Names from a Hat

Recently, we hosted a barbeque and decided to play horseshoes. We were going to divide teams by drawing names out of a hat, so I volunteered my old trusty White Sox cap. My wife looked at me for a full two seconds before declaring that maybe we’d use a “less comprehensively sweaty” way of picking teams.  That made sense. And it illuminated something important: when you’re drawing names from an actual hat, you need an actual hat, with all its…

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7 Secret Santa Gifts Under $20 that Anyone will Love

7 Secret Santa Gifts Under $20 that Anyone will Love

Just about everyone who has run a Secret Santa has had a variation of this conversation:  “Want to do a Secret Santa?” “Heck yes! I love those. Just… is there a, um… ” “Price limit?” “Yes!”  A lot of Secret Santa exchanges have a price limit of some sort. We’ve had ones that are as low as $10 and others that go significantly higher. It makes sense. You don’t want to overspend, and you don’t want to seem cheap. Maybe…

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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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