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, I’ve learned to embrace this brave new technological world. It makes everything easier, whether you’re trying to remember who the other guy in Quantum Leap was (oh, right, Dean Stockwell!), or trying to host a successful gift exchange. The most crucial part of any gift exchange is the name pairing. There are old-fashioned ways to do it, then there are online name pairing generators that make it much easier and make it impossible to miss anything. They make sure that everything goes right.
The Problem With Drawing Names Manually
We’ve hosted a lot of gift exchanges, as regular readers of this blog might have picked up on. And over the years, we’ve drawn names randomly in a lot of different ways. The original way, the way anyone my age grew up doing, was just to pull names out of a hat.
And while that wasn’t hard, per se, it certainly had a ton of limitations like:
- You couldn’t set exclusions lists. That meant that you could easily draw the name of your sister, your partner, your direct employee, etc. So you had to keep drawing again (if you remembered, and if not, the whole game was tilted).
- Everyone had to be there in person. Sure, you could draw for someone who wasn’t there, but then not everyone had an anonymous guess. It made it less fun for whoever started to know more names, and it made completely remote gift exchanges impossible.
- You could forget to put your name in. Someone would be out of the room. Someone wouldn’t be paying attention. And then you’d have to start all over.
- Someone’s name could get lost, and then they won’t get a present. The only way to make sure it works is for the organizer to learn who has whose name…and that’s not terribly fun for them.
Like I said, picking names out of a hat or a bowl isn’t hard. There are very few injuries involved. But there are a lot of ways it can inhibit the game. It can make things less fun.
How to ensure the fun? Drawing names out of a virtual hat.
Using the Right Name Pairing Generator
A virtual hat isn’t an actual hat in cyberspace, like a 1998 jpeg (although that would be pretty cool). What it is, though, is a replacement for the traditional hat drawing. It’s using a name pairing generator to make your party go well.
How does a name pairing generator work? It’s pretty simple:
- Sign up for free.
- Invite everyone you want to play, entering their emails into the generator.
- They receive an email, put their name in, and can begin creating their wish list.
- Set any and all exclusions lists.
- The drawing happens online, and everyone receives their giftee, their giftee’s wish list, and a way to communicate with them while remaining anonymous.
Easy, right? And even better than easy, completely foolproof. Here are some other great perks:
Players Don’t have to be Present at the Draw
With a name pairing generator, your guests don’t have to be in the same room or even the same continent. You can arrange it for a party where everyone gets together in person or for a remote party. This expands your potential players to anywhere in the whole world.
No One Will Get Left Off
Enter the people who are coming to the exchange. It’s that simple. You don’t have to worry about someone stepping outside at the crucial moment, or writing their name down but forgetting to put it in the hat because something was happening in the game (a touchdown or what-have-you). Or, as happened with so many of my uncles, putting their name in the hat but forgetting they had to draw, even though we did this every year.
Exclusion Lists are Easy
All you have to do is set the lists of who can’t draw who. This takes just a couple of minutes but makes the game so much easier for you as the organizer and more enjoyable for everyone else.
Secret Santas can Ask Anonymous Questions
Imagine you have a giftee and want to ask them a question about shirt size or their favorite video games. Maybe you could ask a third party to ask them, but then that third party has part of the game ruined (they know not to guess you). With a name pairing generator, you can send anonymous messages, asking questions or just trying to throw them off your trail. It adds another level of fun.
Use a Name Pairing Generator to Supercharge Your Secret Santa
I’m pretty old-fashioned in a lot of ways. I like to do things manually if they make sense; I don’t think that what’s online can replace everything. I like to have my friends and family around as much as possible.
But I also love making that gathering and that sharing of gifts as easy as possible for everyone. That way, everyone has more fun and everyone feels more together. And when it comes to hosting a gift exchange, a name pairing generator makes it all better.
Online maps make it easier to get to where you want to go. Restaurant finders make it easier to share a meal. The best technologies make the non-tech parts of your life even richer. So, make your gift exchange parties available and easy for everyone.
If you’re looking for the best way to pair names for a gift exchange, try a Secret Santa generator that makes everything go smoothly. Using Elfster, you can pair people up, shop for gifts, and start a Wish List—all from an iPhone app or Android app.