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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.
Secret Santa Tips to Help You Get Started with Your Gift Exchange

Secret Santa Tips to Help You Get Started with Your Gift Exchange

So, you’re running a gift exchange for your next party. That’s a great idea! Gift exchanges are an incredible way to bring people together, to engage in some light mystery, and to make a great party even better.  And here’s the best part: they can be really really really easy.  Running a Secret Santa doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to jump through hoops or spend hours wrangling people. With the help of an online generator and these…

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How to Run a Gift Exchange From Home During Social Distancing

How to Run a Gift Exchange From Home During Social Distancing

When social distancing swept over the world, taking us away from our normal lives, a strange paradox took shape. We began to connect more than ever.  I now have weekly video calls with friends and family that I could easily go months without talking to before. We have a Sunday Zoom dinner with my wife’s parents. People are even… talking on the phone! This doesn’t negate the anxiety we all feel, but it does go to show that we are,…

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How to Socialize During Coronavirus With Long-Distance Games

How to Socialize During Coronavirus With Long-Distance Games

Every Saturday since social distancing started here in Illinois, my friends and I meet for an afternoon happy hour online. Some live a few blocks away, some in other cities. It’s great to connect, and it reminded us that we could have done this anytime. We don’t need a catastrophe to enjoy hanging out, even distantly.  Social distancing has, for millions of people, closed their physical world down to a handful of rooms. But what’s amazing—inspiring, beautiful, and deeply human—is…

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How Does a Name Pairing Generator Work?

How Does a Name Pairing Generator Work?

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,…

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Can You Make a Wish List for All Websites?

Can You Make a Wish List for All Websites?

I’m a history fan, and one thing I love is how important the mail order catalog was toward settling the West. Before, if you wanted a shovel and the local store didn’t have one…well, you didn’t get a shovel. You might wait months until the next shipment. In the meantime, you just had to make do with a flat rock or something.  With the catalog, everything changed. You could order supplies and the burgeoning logistics network got it to you….

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5 Gift Exchange Party Ideas to Get You Started

5 Gift Exchange Party Ideas to Get You Started

“Congratulations! You’re running the office gift exchange!”  I recently had the pleasure of telling that to a co-worker as we were planning a remote office party. We’d been working from home for a while, so we decided it would be a cool way to keep everyone together. And even though I was the pro, we decided Jess could take the reins on this one. She turned a bit pale at the thought, but I reassured her that it would be…

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How to Draw Names Randomly Online: A Guide

How to Draw Names Randomly Online: A Guide

“Random” is one of those words that carries an air of, well, chaos. If you do something randomly, it seems like you’re doing it without rhyme or reason. Even its old definition, which meant “rushing headlong” and “going too fast,” implied a certain level of helter-skelter. So while random might be fun, it doesn’t always seem… practical.  That can be a challenge when you’re doing things randomly, like drawing names for a gift exchange. There’s just a lot that can…

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5 Creative Gift Exchange Themes to Liven Up Any Party

5 Creative Gift Exchange Themes to Liven Up Any Party

Recently, some friends invited us to a Harry Potter-themed party. They were very excited about it! My wife was very excited about it! I was very excited about… seeing people! But here’s the thing: I’ve never read Harry Potter. I only saw the first movie. Without any negative feelings toward it, it just wasn’t part of my life.  So, I took a crash course. And you know what? I had a blast. I dressed as Sirius Black because I love…

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How to Create a Wish List Online—the Easy Way

How to Create a Wish List Online—the Easy Way

My wife is a great list-maker. I am not. So sometimes, if she’s going to the grocery store, she asks me to write down what I need that week. I haphazardly think of the stuff I might want. Am I making soup? That probably requires vegetables. But without a system, I forget some items. Then I have to text her 30 times as I remember other things.  Making a list isn’t about just kind of jotting things down; it’s about…

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5 Out-of-this-World Star Wars Secret Santa Ideas

5 Out-of-this-World Star Wars Secret Santa Ideas

I don’t want to date myself, but I was excited to see Return of the Jedi in the theaters. I was young enough to be terrified of the Sarlacc and pretty freaked out by the Emperor, but at that point, it didn’t matter. I was a hooked Star Wars fan and have been ever since (so, like 15 years… right?).  I get pretty excited every May the 4th, and I bet you do, too. It’s the best day to have…

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What are the Benefits of a Random Name Drawing App?

What are the Benefits of a Random Name Drawing App?

A few years ago, we were doing an office Secret Santa and were pulling names out of a hat. When my friend Hedda reached in to pull the last name, she fished through it before announcing that there weren’t any names left. We couldn’t find it and had to start over.  A few days later, the owner of the hat said it had been caught in a flap. He found it when it finally fell out.  I’m not trying to…

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5 Best Earth Day Gift Ideas for Work Parties

5 Best Earth Day Gift Ideas for Work Parties

I volunteer for the Party Planning Crew at my job. A few years ago, we were trying to plan an Earth Day party, and things started to get out of hand. We were going to have green eggs and ham, then tree-themed decorations, then balloons… and that’s when we realized we were forgetting the real meaning of the holiday.  Earth Day is a celebration of the planet and a renewal of our commitment to try to reduce our impact and…

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Is There a Wish List Maker Online for Free?

Is There a Wish List Maker Online for Free?

You know that feeling when you send an email and are gripped with the desire to take it back? I don’t mean when you accidentally hit “reply all” or when you realize you’ve attached the wrong file. I mean, when you have more to say, so you have to send another email. At that point, life becomes a series of revisions and additions.  It’s sort of like that with traditional wish lists. No matter what you’re making a wish list…

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5 Easter Party Games that will Make Everyone Hoppy

5 Easter Party Games that will Make Everyone Hoppy

When I was a kid, we used to play in the cornfields behind my aunt’s house every Easter. Then, when I was 10, the cornfields were turned into a subdivision, complete with a big park. This was extremely exciting. There were places to run around! There were swings.  But things were, well, changing. The formerly distant outpost on the outskirts of Chicago was becoming more of a suburb. It was time to update some of our Easter traditions.  Everyone has…

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The Top 5 Secret Santa Variations

The Top 5 Secret Santa Variations

I talk about the holidays a lot. It’s a magical time of year, as we all know. It’s not about the gifts (really!) and it’s not even about the parties per se. The holidays are about people bringing light and happiness to the darkest days and longest nights of the year.  And then? December turns in January, which slogs on into February, and the joy of the season slips behind you. But it doesn’t have to. You can bring that…

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The 7 Best Eid Gift Ideas for Friends

The 7 Best Eid Gift Ideas for Friends

Ramadan can perhaps be understood as a gift you give to yourself. Through your faith, you are given the gift of quietude, of contemplation, or thoughtfulness. You give yourself the gift of thinking about others through charity. You have the gift of peace.  Eid, of course, is at the end of Ramadan, it in and of itself is a gift: the dawn at the end of the night; the new day for a newly-refreshed you. But, in addition to the…

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Can I Draw Names Out of a Hat Online for Secret Santa?

Can I Draw Names Out of a Hat Online for Secret Santa?

One Thanksgiving, when I was just a kid—so a very, very long time ago—we were drawing names out of a hat for our Christmas gift exchange. My uncle, with great fanfare, reached in… and immediately drew his own name. He laughed, made a corny uncle joke, and picked again. It was his wife. He made another joke, but you could see his eyebrow start twitching. He reached in again…  He picked one of his kids. Three draws, three people he…

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5 Fun Games to Play on Eid

5 Fun Games to Play on Eid

Chances are, when you think about Eid, you think about sweets. After all, after a month of fasting for Ramadan, the candies and breads and sticky gooey things of Eid are extremely satisfying. Across the Muslim world, there are hundreds of traditional sweet goods that remind you of breaking the fast.  That’s not all there is to Eid, of course. Eid is about getting together with family and friends to celebrate each other and your faith. Ramadan is a time…

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5 Spring Party Games to Embrace the Season

5 Spring Party Games to Embrace the Season

I live in a city famous for its cold winters. So when there’s a warm day, we fling our windows open and garland our hair with flowers. That’s because we’re all looking forward to spring.  Spring is a time when everything seems to unfurl, unravel from winter’s tight gloom, and become brighter. That’s why I love having a spring party. It just feels like renewal. And having spring party games makes celebrating the season even more fun. The 5 Best…

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How to Make an Easter Wish List the Easy Way

How to Make an Easter Wish List the Easy Way

I have a confession about Spring: I don’t actually know what a crocus is. I know that people start to feel the warmth of Spring when the crocuses bloom from the ground, but I couldn’t identify one. It’s probably green? At least maybe the stem?  What I do know is that Spring, to me, is defined by Easter. Whether it’s a late or early Easter, it always carries with it an air of warmth, of sunshine peeking through the clouds,…

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Top Secret Santa Ideas for College Students

Top Secret Santa Ideas for College Students

When I went to college—and yes, I can remember that far back, albeit dimly—it was both exciting and terrifying. I was exhilarated: I was going to get to meet new people! I was terrified: I was going to meet new people.  A lot has changed for college students since then, but that particular experience is universal. We always want to meet new people, but it can be scary and awkward. Whether it’s the first day in the dorms, the first…

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Secret Santa for Eid: Tips for Celebrating with a Gift Exchange

Secret Santa for Eid: Tips for Celebrating with a Gift Exchange

There are few religious observations in the world with the solemnity and consecrating power of Ramadan, with its month of fasting, observance, and dedication. Consequently, there are few celebrations with as much joy and happiness as Eid al-Fitr, held at the end of Ramadan. It’s a time of cheer, joy, and gratitude.  And while that’s the basic outline—fasting during Ramadan, celebrating at Eid—there is no one way to recognize Eid. How could there be? Islam is a global religion that…

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How to Host an Eggcellent Easter Gift Exchange

How to Host an Eggcellent Easter Gift Exchange

When I was a kid, I had some questions about the Easter Bunny. Now, Santa—I got that guy. Big dude, cool sleigh, lots of presents. But why was the Easter Bunny hiding eggs? Why did he want us to color the eggs first? And why was he on his hind legs?  That said, there was candy, so I didn’t question it too much. You want to hide eggs? Knock yourself out, Bugs. I’ll be eating some jelly beans.  But that’s…

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15 Secret Santa Options to Add Variety to the Game

15 Secret Santa Options to Add Variety to the Game

If there’s one thing I love, it’s variety. If there’s another thing I love, it’s giving and receiving gifts. Oh, and I also love my friends and family and music and parties. Turns out I love a lot of things, and celebrating them all requires that first thing: variety.  That’s why I love to do gift exchanges for different occasions. They don’t have to just be during the holidays and they don’t have to all be the same. There are…

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