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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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5 Ways to Connect During Social Distancing with a Secret Santa Generator

5 Ways to Connect During Social Distancing with a Secret Santa Generator

When I was a kid, my friend, Dawn, moved to California. It happened when long-distance phone calls and snail mail were the only options to stay in touch. Still, we would mail trivia and fun paper games and activities to one another and so kept an entertaining connection. She became one of my best pen pals. And I still believe she was my Secret Santa for that top Secret Santa gift exchange in fifth grade! Nowadays, with the convenience of…

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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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Coronavirus: How to Stay Positive and Connected with a Gift Exchange

Coronavirus: How to Stay Positive and Connected with a Gift Exchange

For some reason, most of my family members have birthdays over the same two-month period. Some even share the exact same birthday! So, for over a decade, we celebrated all birthdays together as a family. But in recent years, we moved to Texas, my brother moved to Nebraska, and family is here, there and everywhere. Plus, we’ve experienced some trying times and realized that what matters is to remain connected and celebrate even if we can’t physically be together. The…

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Top Gift Exchange Ideas for All Ages

Top Gift Exchange Ideas for All Ages

One of the best events we’ve hosted involved numerous family members and friends honoring a newly-engaged coworker. With a Caribbean-themed party and gift exchange, we went all out. My parents didn’t even know the couple getting married, but because we worked with them and the grandchildren were part of the fun, they were all in on the activities. With participants of all ages from various circles of life, it was one of the most joyous parties we ever hosted.  You…

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Cycling Group Going The Extra Mile For Frontline Heroes

Cycling Group Going The Extra Mile For Frontline Heroes

As we find our “new normal” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, stories of kindness, generosity and hope are emerging like spring blossoms all around us. Tales of ordinary folks doing the extraordinary sure to brighten our days, warm our hearts and help us focus on the positive. We thrive on the inspirational stories of communities coming together to spread joy, offering all of us a welcome distraction from the reality of these complicated times. And Elfster’s generous gift-giving…

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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 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,…

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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…

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Types of Gift Exchanges that’ll Spice Up Any Event

Types of Gift Exchanges that’ll Spice Up Any Event

This summer, we hosted a BBQ, and the invitation said we were going to do a gift exchange. A friend texted to ask what the occasion was, and I had to explain that there wasn’t an occasion. It was just that 1) people like getting gifts, and 2) gift exchanges are fun.  Those, to me, are universal truths. You don’t need it to be a holiday to have a gift exchange, and no matter what kind of event you’re having,…

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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…

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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…

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