Browsed by
Author: Brian B

Brian thinks that giving someone a gift is just about the most fun you can have, so long as you don't stress out about finding the right one. He likes helping people not stress out during the holidays. Hit him up for ways to make your Christmas more fun.
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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

9 Office-Safe Secret Santa Theme Ideas for Work Parties

9 Office-Safe Secret Santa Theme Ideas for Work Parties

When I was fresh out of college, a few years ago (ok, more than a few), I had a job at a consulting company. To make things more fun, they had a party committee. One holiday season, they set up a Secret Santa gift exchange and decided to do a theme. Fun, right? Absolutely. They were fun people!  But the theme they chose was British TV dramas of the 1980’s. Needless to say, not everyone knew what this theme encapsulated,…

Read More Read More

4 Ways to Draw Names from a Virtual Hat

4 Ways to Draw Names from a Virtual Hat

A few years ago, my wife and I hosted a tree trimming party. We had never done one before, so we looked up how to make our tree trimming party fun and memorable. Our guests were excited because we were one of the few in our circle of friends who had a real tree. So, perhaps carried away by the scent of pine (okay, and the egg nog), we expanded the party by adding a Secret Santa gift exchange.  What…

Read More Read More

7 Virtual Christmas Games for Remote Office Parties

7 Virtual Christmas Games for Remote Office Parties

I’ve worked two remote jobs. One was pretty isolated. There were emails and some video meetings, but I was pretty much on an island. I honestly can’t remember the names of the people I “worked” with. Needless to say, my motivation was not particularly high.  The other one? Constant chatting. Lots of video meetings. Regular check-ins. Weekly Fun Friday questions to get to know each other. I made life-lasting friendships there, even with people I’ve only met once or twice…

Read More Read More

The 5 Best Christmas Wish List Makers

The 5 Best Christmas Wish List Makers

I remember the joy of making a Christmas wish list when I was a kid. I’d think about what books I wanted, what toys I needed (needed!), which video game commercials had spoken directly to my soul. I’d give the list to my parents, who, as far as I knew, personally delivered it to Santa.  But after it was signed, sealed, and transported northward, there was always that gut-clenching moment when I realized I forgot something. Or I saw a…

Read More Read More

5 Tips for a Gift Exchange with an Odd Number of People

5 Tips for a Gift Exchange with an Odd Number of People

There’s nothing wrong with being odd.  For whatever reason, we tend to think “odd” numbers are, well, off. Even numbers are solid and divide easily. They have a graceful symmetry. Odd numbers? They’re weird and quirky. It’s right there in the name! I don’t know about you, though, but I like things being odd. It makes life more interesting. Odd numbers can be like Alice in Wonderland, taking you to weird and fun places.  And contrary to popular belief, having…

Read More Read More

How to Play Secret Santa with a Techy Twist

How to Play Secret Santa with a Techy Twist

My uncle sat there staring at us, like he did every Christmas, glancing at every upturned face with the suspicion of a trained detective. One by one, he’d look at us, trying to spot a clue: a twitching smile, a glance away, a tell-tale blush. He was trying to figure out his Secret Santa.  He never got it right.  Eventually, someone would just confess. Other people had gifts to open. That was our ritual: watching a person guess every name…

Read More Read More

The Best Office Party Ideas for a Cool Summer Company Picnic

The Best Office Party Ideas for a Cool Summer Company Picnic

In the long history of spoken communication, most sentence combinations have been uttered. But one that probably hasn’t is “It’s such a nice beautiful summer day. I’m really excited to go into work!” Or, ok, it may have been said, but never sincerely. It might, in fact, be the most sarcastic sentence possible. That’s the thing about work. Most of us have to do it, but there are days when it feels almost impossible to focus on it. And as…

Read More Read More

A Graduation Party Planning Checklist: Elfster’s How-To Guide

A Graduation Party Planning Checklist: Elfster’s How-To Guide

When I was getting ready to start college back in the 90s (cue lightning and thunderbolts in the background), we didn’t really need much. Bedding and such, of course, but besides that just a couple of packing crates, my books, my Discman, my CD case, and, of course, some decorations to show just how unique and idiosyncratic I was. I think there was an Escher? That blew some minds, man. In some ways, not a lot has changed. College students…

Read More Read More

The Best Eid al-Fitr Gifts for Traditional Ramadan Gift Giving

The Best Eid al-Fitr Gifts for Traditional Ramadan Gift Giving

The sacred and solemn holiday of Ramadan is a time of prayer, of reflection, and of charity. It is a time of peace, where one prays for the world—and for themselves. It’s not for focusing on small worldly and bodily needs, such as food, but for seeking out your inner quietness for answers to spiritual matters. That makes it a time of fasting, when food cannot be eaten between dawn and dusk. To mark the end of that most holy…

Read More Read More

What to Put in a Beach-Themed Gift Basket or Bag for Her

What to Put in a Beach-Themed Gift Basket or Bag for Her

This beach season, you’re probably looking to add something more to your bag than suntan lotion and the newest teen vampire novel—although you totally want both of those too. You want to rock the sun and sand in style, comfort, with a little decadence, and a lot of goodies. You want, nay need, great beach gear. And so do your girlfriends! This year, why not send a beach-themed gift bag to your sister, girlfriend, wife, or best friend? It’s a…

Read More Read More

Ochugen and Oseibo Gift Ideas: Japanese Customs and the Tradition of Giving

Ochugen and Oseibo Gift Ideas: Japanese Customs and the Tradition of Giving

What do you say when you give someone a gift? No, not “here,” or “look, I got you a gift,” but what is your gift saying? What are the wordless messages you are passing along when someone opens that special thing you gave them? There are a million possibilities but at the core, at the purest level, you are saying: I value you. In Japan, gift-giving is less about the gift itself as the meaning behind it, which is why…

Read More Read More

The Best Traditional Kwanzaa Gifts to Make and Give

The Best Traditional Kwanzaa Gifts to Make and Give

Kwanzaa has always been one of the world’s most exciting holidays, especially in North America. It is a burst of light and color, of sun and laughter, emerging brightly into the coldest and darkest days of the year. It’s a celebration of heritage, but it isn’t one stuck in the past. It creates a vibrant tapestry of the past, present, and future, looking toward the next day while honoring the last. Kwanzaa is a unique holiday in that it comes…

Read More Read More

Unique Diwali Gift Ideas: Celebrate India’s Festival of Lights Around the World

Unique Diwali Gift Ideas: Celebrate India’s Festival of Lights Around the World

The word Diwali, with its upward-lilting last syllable, already carries within it a lightness and a note of grace. That’s fitting, too: A translation of the word reads “rows of lighted lamps,” a beautiful and warm image invoking peace, warmth, and openness. Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights in India and around the world, is one of the high points on the Hindu calendar, a day when light triumphed over darkness. And it’s that selfsame light that we…

Read More Read More

Hot Summer Kickoff Party Theme Ideas: Planning Outdoor Activities for Sunny Days

Hot Summer Kickoff Party Theme Ideas: Planning Outdoor Activities for Sunny Days

There are few things I love more than a classic Americana summer party. Food on the grill, cold drinks in the cooler, music sifting through the hot air reminding you of the past—and of the current endless present. Kids running around, firecrackers going off, lawn games that are fun and weirdly competitive. Burgers and ribs, grilled veggies, salads passed around laughter-filled tables. A long and sultry day that sunsets into a firefly dusk and a dance-filled night.  It’s the bottomless…

Read More Read More

Feliz Dia de la Reyes: Three Kings Day Gift Ideas for a Royal Celebration

Feliz Dia de la Reyes: Three Kings Day Gift Ideas for a Royal Celebration

The story of Christmas doesn’t begin or end on the 25th. There’s an entire holiday season full of parties and gifts that leads up to Christmas Day. And, for many around the world, a hugely important Yule-inspired holiday is celebrated after the new year: Three Kings Day (or The Feast of the Magi), known in many Latino cultures as Dias de la Reyes. It’s a day that is as venerated and fun-filled as Christmas morning. Dias de la Reyes, which…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

A Hopping Good Time: Easter Party Ideas for Toddlers, Kids, and the Young at Heart

A Hopping Good Time: Easter Party Ideas for Toddlers, Kids, and the Young at Heart

When we grow up, Easter tends to get unfairly short shrift. For one thing, it isn’t fixed in place like Christmas or always on the same weekend like Thanksgiving. Landing anywhere from late March to end of April, as adults in a life filled with responsibilities and hecticness, Easter can catch us by surprise. But you know who loves Easter? Who looks forward to it every year? Kids. And what’s not to love? There’s candy, there’s the thrill of the…

Read More Read More

Imaginative Make Up Your Own Holiday Day Ideas That Celebrate Whatever Inspires You

Imaginative Make Up Your Own Holiday Day Ideas That Celebrate Whatever Inspires You

Have you ever said something along the lines of, “Oh man, if I were president, I’d declare a national holiday for whoever invented string cheese.”  Well, it turns out that under a close reading of the Constitution, it isn’t only a president who can declare holidays. It isn’t even one of their primary duties. Anyone, in fact, can invent a holiday, and you should do so at the end of March. March 26th is Make Up a Holiday Day, a…

Read More Read More

An April Fools’ Day Gag Gift Exchange and Prank Party Ideas That Are No Joke

An April Fools’ Day Gag Gift Exchange and Prank Party Ideas That Are No Joke

  Maybe the first recorded prank in history was when the Greek army hid themselves in a giant horse and pretended it was a gift to the Trojan people. While the Trojans slept, the Greeks slipped out, yelled “Surprise!,” and… well, it didn’t go too well for the Trojans. Not funny? Maybe the joke gets lost in translation. Maybe you had to be there (pro tip: you should not have been there). Pranks these days are a little more about…

Read More Read More

Weight Watchers Members “Send the Love” on Connect Using Elfster’s Gift Exchanges

Weight Watchers Members “Send the Love” on Connect Using Elfster’s Gift Exchanges

Eleanor Roosevelt, who paved the way for so many strong and independent women leaders, famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Her statements were backed up a few years later by one Lady Gaga, who noted, “Remember there’s always someone fighting for you.” Both of these women are expressing that being strong, and gaining strength from other’s encouragement, are still relevant. When doing something difficult, it helps to have a strong community to back you…

Read More Read More

National Read Across America Day Ideas for an Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party

National Read Across America Day Ideas for an Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party

“Dear dear, how queer everything is today. And yesterday things went on just as usual!” Have you ever had a Mad Tea Party? To do so, one has to be warned, is to abdicate any sense of rules or decorum. It is to embrace nonsense as the guiding principle: pure, anarchic nonsense of the kind that leads to sloshed tea cups and wild, wordy toasts, circumlocutions that never quite make a circle. It’s bonkers, of course, and you’ll be bonkers…

Read More Read More

Bring Your Brogue: Charmed St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas Inspired by The Quiet Man

Bring Your Brogue: Charmed St. Patrick’s Day Party Ideas Inspired by The Quiet Man

There’s an Irish pub near my home that I frequent quite often. It was my dad’s favorite place, and we were often the only people there born this side of the Atlantic. Warm and homey, it was thick with brogues and resplendent with laughter. I once took my soon-to-be-in-laws there and a friend of mine introduced himself to them saying, “Many a times have I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in this very pub with Brian. And, a few of those…

Read More Read More