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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.
Good Secret Santa Gifts to Ask for When You Can’t Think of Anything

Good Secret Santa Gifts to Ask for When You Can’t Think of Anything

There are two very, very simple questions that always leave me stumped: 1) What kind of music do you like; and 2) what do you want for Christmas/birthday/etc.? I listen to music all day, dozens of albums a week, and have deep opinions on all of them, but can never remember a single one when asked. Similarly, there are a lot of things I know I want, but when it comes to making a list for Secret Santa, I draw…

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How to Use a Pick Names Out of a Hat App

How to Use a Pick Names Out of a Hat App

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I have a lot of baseball hats that I’ve been wearing for a long time, showing off my love for the White Sox. I have hats I’ve been playing softball in for years. Running hats. Hats for just lounging on the deck and grilling in the heat of a sweltering August. You know what I don’t have a hat for? Reaching your hand in to pick names for a gift exchange. I mean, granted, any of…

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Secret Santa for Virtual Teams: Tips and Tricks

Secret Santa for Virtual Teams: Tips and Tricks

Before my office transitioned to all of us working remotely, we were planning our annual summer party. Each year, it’s always featured a competitive kickball game and a Secret Santa gift exchange—playing off the “Christmas in July” theme. Needless to say, this being 2020, our normal party isn’t going to happen. While there won’t be a chance to defend our kickball championship title, my team will still be able to participate in a Secret Santa for virtual teams.  As we…

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The Benefits of a Birthday Wish List App

The Benefits of a Birthday Wish List App

It always seems a little unfair that your birthday is only 24 hours long, doesn’t it? You wait a whole year for it, and even if you act all nonchalant, you know it’s coming. You’re waiting for it. And then by noon, it’s already half over! There should be a law making it at least 26 hours!  Well, even if they don’t pass that very reasonable and common-sense solution, you can still pack a lot into one day. You can…

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7 Great Secret Santa Gifts for the Boss

7 Great Secret Santa Gifts for the Boss

All right—Secret Santa time at the office! You’ve entered your name in the Secret Santa generator and are ready to see who you’re paired with this year. Will it be your friend in accounting? Your favorite lunch buddy? Or the new woman, who you’d love to get to know better? Oh, the endless exciting possibilities!  Oh, wait—you got your boss. Well, might as well quit and find a new job.  Okay, so you don’t have to be that dramatic, but…

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What Makes for a Good Wish List Creator?

What Makes for a Good Wish List Creator?

“Make a wish!”  That’s probably the most common line in fairy tales. But there’s something kind of weird about it…since the most exciting part of the story is when a wish actually comes true, we never expect them to. As fun as wishes are, they almost seem to contain their own nearly-assured disappointments.  But they don’t have to. If you’re holding a gift exchange, and you let people make a wish using the best wish list creators, they will almost…

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7 Good Secret Santa Joke Gifts

7 Good Secret Santa Joke Gifts

I think the strangest thing about being an adult has been, rather unexpectedly, becoming a Socks Guy. I’ve taken to coordinating my outfits with my socks, and while there’s nothing too outlandish, it’s still something I think about. My wife is as surprised as I am. Where socks might have once been a joke gift, now they’re something I cherish.  That’s the thing about giving gifts. You can give someone something goofy and silly but also meaningful to them. You…

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What to Look for in a Name-Drawing Randomizer

What to Look for in a Name-Drawing Randomizer

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…

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7 Sunshiney Summer Party Game Ideas

7 Sunshiney Summer Party Game Ideas

As soon as the weather starts to turn warm, even just the first hints of spring, I start to get itchy. I love fall and actually really enjoy our cold Midwest winters, but I still cannot wait for warm weather again. I start to make summer playlists. And I start to plan summer parties.  Some winters and springs seem longer than others. We might not always be able to see each other in-person. So, when we can have a summer…

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How to Find Secret Santa Gifts Everyone Wants

How to Find Secret Santa Gifts Everyone Wants

When I was a kid and beginning to buy presents on my own, it was easy to get gifts for my dad. He loved collecting old bottle openers, so I’d find them at local flea markets or antique shops. He eventually amassed a sizable collection of these kind-of-rusty antiques. I was proud that most of them were from me… until I realized that they were all from me.  That’s right; he didn’t collect them. He had maybe one, I got…

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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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