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.
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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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,…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

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…

Read More Read More

Host the Perfect Galentine’s Day Gift Exchange to Celebrate Sisterhood

Host the Perfect Galentine’s Day Gift Exchange to Celebrate Sisterhood

My wife and I were discussing whether she and her friends were going to do something this year for Galentine’s Day on February 13th, and we started talking about what they’d done in the past. Of course, we could only go back so far. After all, the holiday was invented by a TV show in 2010.  But it doesn’t seem that way, does it? When Leslie Knope first told us about “Galentine’s Day” in Parks and Recreation, it was so…

Read More Read More

How to Figure out What to Buy for a Gift Exchange

How to Figure out What to Buy for a Gift Exchange

I love giving people presents. When you pick the right present, it isn’t about buying. It isn’t about the person getting a “thing.” It’s about them being seen. Picking the right gift is a signal that you truly care about a person.  But when you’re in a Secret Santa, knowing what to buy for a gift exchange can be tricky. You may be extremely close to them, or you may not really know them at all. They could be coworkers,…

Read More Read More

How to Host Secret Santa on a Budget

How to Host Secret Santa on a Budget

I’m friends with a lot of artists and musicians. This isn’t due to any musical or artistic talent on my behalf—I can’t carry a tune to save my life and my drawings look like someone put a paintbrush in the mouth of a particularly hyper dog. Still, many of my friends are in the creative community.  So, when we have a Secret Santa party, we try to be cognizant that different people have different budgets. Some people have artist’s budgets;…

Read More Read More

Top 7 Gift Exchange Themes for Friends

Top 7 Gift Exchange Themes for Friends

Last weekend, we had some friends over. One of them was my oldest friend. We’ve been hanging out since we were wee lads, so for more than 30 years. We practically have our own language. At one point, we started to do a whole bit, as we tend to do, and his wife just turned to mine and said, “When they get like this, I just let them go.”  That’s the thing about friends: you have your jokes, your stories,…

Read More Read More

Tips for Being the Secret Santa for Someone You Don’t Know

Tips for Being the Secret Santa for Someone You Don’t Know

My wife and I first started dating in early July. But by Christmas we were already at the “let’s see each other’s family!” stage of things (cue: awwww). When she joined my family’s Secret Santa game and got my cousin Chuck, I was super excited. Chuck is great! Of course, she asked what to me was a surprising question: “Who, exactly, is Chuck?” Yeah, I had forgotten that she didn’t know everyone in my family. But that brings up a…

Read More Read More

The Best Ways to Draw Names Randomly for a Gift Exchange

The Best Ways to Draw Names Randomly for a Gift Exchange

My cousin, Laura, is probably one of the world’s worst Secret Santa players. She gets amazing gifts and is one of the warmest and funniest people I know. But every year, when we’d draw names from a hat, she would look directly at the person whose name she pulled.  She tried not to. You could see beads of sweat forming as she struggled not to look up. But then she would, glancing directly at the person. It was wonderful.  Of…

Read More Read More

How to Make a Birthday Wish List Online

How to Make a Birthday Wish List Online

Shortly before my most recent birthday, my wife asked me what I wanted. I went into my whole normal gruff routine about how “I’m too old for birthdays” and “All I really want is a nice dinner and some quiet time with you”—both of which were true! I didn’t want anything, until she actually asked me to make a list, and I realized there’s so much stuff I want.  That’s the thing with birthdays: if you’re like me, you may…

Read More Read More

How to Host a Secret Santa for Remote Employees

How to Host a Secret Santa for Remote Employees

I got my first job out of college in 2001. At our first Christmas party, we had a few people who worked in an office outpost at another city call in via speakerphone for a toast. We just had to assume they had a drink in their hand.  Needless to say, there wasn’t much of a holiday contingency plan for remote employees. That’s because the idea of remote employees was pretty absurd back then. Sure, some techno-futurists were predicting it,…

Read More Read More

What Christmas Games are Similar to White Elephant?

What Christmas Games are Similar to White Elephant?

There’s a famous old holiday saying which goes, “Gift exchange games are like sandwiches: everyone has their own name for them and by golly, I love them all no matter what.” Okay, that might not be an old saying as much as something I believe, but it’s still true.  See, there are a lot of gift exchanges out there. Some are pretty much the same game but with different names. It’s like sandwiches: a hero, submarine, grinder, and hoagie are…

Read More Read More