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 squares, he just repeated his template. So went the best-laid plans of mice and uncles.
Now, this doesn’t happen every time you’re drawing names, but that can be one of the most frustrating parts of Secret Santa. Everyone has to be together. Everyone has to remember to write their name down and be in the room when it’s drawn. If a slip of paper gets lost, the whole thing is messed up. And you can draw your own name.
That’s why more people are looking for a name-drawing randomizer that works, is easy to use, and makes game-play that much more fun. There are a lot of name-drawing apps out there, but some are better than others. Here’s what to look for to make sure that nothing gets in the way of gift exchange bliss.
How Name-Drawing Randomizers Help with Gift Exchanges
Drawing names sets the whole gift exchange in motion. That’s why you want to make sure you get started in the right direction.
There are a lot of flaws with doing things the old way—drawing names out of a bowl or hat or whatever. Some of these are pretty obvious, some only apparent once you start organizing.
- Everyone has to be present. When you draw names, everyone has to be there and write their names down. That means the people who will be present at the exchange have to also get together a few weeks earlier. That’s not always possible, especially if you want a remote or socially distant game. Of course, someone else can draw for those who are absent, but then they can scratch a few names off their list, and that’s not fun.
- You can’t set restriction lists. In any game, partners usually can’t pick each other, nor can parents/kids/siblings, or supervisor/employee. There are always restrictions. When drawing normally, if you draw one of these names you have to put it back and draw again until you get a “correct” one.
- You only have one shot to communicate. Let’s say you’re writing down your name and your wish list. That’s it. You can’t go up to them and say, “I changed my mind!” By default, you don’t know who they are. So, you better be sure the first time.
We live in a remote world. We live in a world of multiple options. We live in a world that demands flexibility. Your name-drawing randomizer should have all of that.
The Best Features of a Name-Drawing Randomizer
Now we know the problems. How do we fix them? By getting a name-drawing randomizer that:
Works for Everyone, Everywhere
You might have out-of-town who are coming back for the holidays. You might have remote workers you want to include. You may be doing an entirely socially distant gift exchange. Chances are, not everyone is going to be together all the time. That’s normal now.
So, your Secret Santa generator needs to be able to accommodate everyone. Having an online one can do the trick. That means anyone can play remotely and can start playing without being present at a given time for the drawing.
Also, this way, everyone can be truly anonymous. The organizer doesn’t have to know who chose who or pick for someone who wasn’t there. Everyone is on the same level, which is way more fun.
Probably don’t need much of an explanation for this one. The best name-drawing apps are free.
Makes It Easy to Set Restriction Lists
Once you know who is playing, you should be able to quickly set an exclusion list. For example, Mary can’t be paired with Ahmed (husband) or Elise (daughter). It’s simple. And it lets you avoid the “draw, frown, put back, draw again” trap.
Is Easy to Use
A great name-drawing randomizer should have only a few steps.
- Invite people to play.
- Enter their names and set restriction lists.
- Have the system draw names randomly.
- Have the system send everyone an email with their giftee’s name and wish list.
Lets You Make a Wish List Online
This is so crucial and cool. After all, any old algorithm could draw names randomly. But you want one that when you enter your name, you can also create a wish list. You can browse every store online and add directly to your list. You can change it and add and subtract. You can use shopping guides to narrow it down. And with one click, you can buy for your giftee from the list they made.
In other words, it isn’t just a name-drawer. It’s a full-service Secret Santa machine.
Choose Random…But Not Randomly
You want a name-drawing randomizer, but you aren’t picking blindly. You want one that gives you everything you need for a successful Secret Santa. And that means choosing deliberately.
When you find a name-drawing randomizer that eliminates the negatives and gives you a full-service Secret Santa experience, you don’t have to worry about the details. You don’t have to worry about things going wrong. You don’t have to worry about uncle-driven interference. All you have to do is gather the people you love and enjoy their company.
If you want a name-drawing randomizer that makes for serious fun, use a Secret Santa generator that has universal access. Thanks to Elfster , you can easily shop for gifts and start a Wish List. Plus, you can access it all from an iPhone app or Android app.