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 physical realities and limitations.
Those limitations become even more stark when you’re organizing a Secret Santa game. Using an actual hat (or any other manual way of drawing names) has some issues. It limits players, lessens the surprise for some people, and means that everyone has to be in the same room at the same time. However, using an electronic way to draw names from a hat removes all those limitations while still building a sense of community.
I like hats. I have a bunch of them. But the electronic way to draw names from a hat makes things easier and more fun.
The Benefits of an Electronic Way to Draw Names from a Hat
There are a lot of reasons why I prefer an electronic name draw generator, including:
You Can Set Exclusions
In any Secret Santa, some people shouldn’t be drawing each other’s names, such as:
- Immediate family
- Parents and children
- People from the same team at work
- The same person you drew last year
This is something an actual hat just can’t do. You can’t really dictate who picks who, and if someone grabs a name, then puts it back, it becomes frustrating and boring. It also means some people see a bunch of names.
One way around it is to have a person pick names for everyone, but then they aren’t part of the surprise. But an electronic name picker does all this for you. You can set as many exclusions as you want, and, just like magic, names will be drawn randomly.
You Can Send Anonymous Messages
Say you draw someone who says they want “socks,” or “a gift certificate to my favorite store,” or something equally vague. In the past, if you wanted to clarify, you had two choices.
1) Ask a third party to inquire discreetly, like a Jane Austen character asking if some duke wants to marry the constable’s daughter, only this is about what season of How I Met Your Mother they want.
2) Just guess.
Neither option is great. But an electronic name generator keeps you connected anonymously with your giftee. You can ask them questions through the site or on an iPhone app or Android app, and they can give you more guidance. You can also leave them misleading clues about your identity. It’s a great Secret Santa strategy to up the gamesmanship.
(With the right generator, your giftee can make wish lists drawing from hundreds of retailers, and you can buy right from the list. But there will still be questions, and you still want to remain anonymous.)
You Can Play Icebreaker Games
If you’re doing an office Secret Santa or one where not everyone knows each other, you want to help bring people closer together. The better you know someone, the better your chances of picking the perfect gift.
An electronic method of drawing names from a hat can include cool icebreaker games that really help you get to know one another. That way you won’t just be getting socks. Or, if you do, you’ll get quirky socks that reflect your personality.
The Electronic Hat Takes Care of the Details
The most tedious part of throwing a Secret Santa is all the planning. You have to make sure that everyone is paired up, that everyone remembers to buy their gift, and that everyone can make it to the party. It’s no fun when a person doesn’t get a gift because one person forgot. But it’s also annoying to check in on everyone.
Luckily, an electronic name generator can take care of all that for you. A good draw names app does way more than just draw names. It also:
- Sends out invitations.
- Keeps track of attendance.
- Notifies participants of who their partner is.
- Reminds people to buy their gifts.
If you prefer focusing on the fun of opening presents rather than on the stress of organizing the event, then an electronic hat is probably right for you.
You Can Involve Everyone
At our backyard horseshoes game, the only names we needed were people who were there. No one was going to play virtually. But that’s not always the case with Secret Santa.
You might be doing a drawing for people who are flying in for the holidays or a remote work party. But with that literal hat, you either have to exclude them or have someone pick for them. Neither option is great.
With an electronic hat, though, you can get everyone involved. Anyone you know can be at the party—in real life or virtually. They can get matched up and buy gifts online and ship presents to wherever they need to go. Everyone can be involved.
Electronic Hats Make Secret Santas Better
You want your Secret Santa exchange to be as fun and convenient for everyone as possible. So, why start your Secret Santa game off with a limited way to pick names? Why not take a path that lets everyone play easily and gets rid of all obstacles to participation?
Using a virtual name generator makes it easy to do a Secret Santa anytime, anywhere. You don’t need to get everyone together in the same room to draw. You don’t need to do elaborate planning. You can get it going whenever you want… at the drop of a hat.
The Elfster electronic hat is an easy way to organize your gift exchange. Our Secret Santa generator makes your fun community-building even easier. Don’t forget that you can now pick names and more on an iPhone app or Android app. Start a Wish List today!