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Category: Gift Exchanges

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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A Guide to Secret Santas for Teens

A Guide to Secret Santas for Teens

Are you planning a party? They can get boring if you don’t have a theme or any games. Have you ever had a Secret Santa gift swap? They’re a lot of fun and a great way to get people into a party mood. Holding a Secret Santa for teens is easy to plan, doesn’t have to mean buying expensive gifts, and can be organized right from your phone. Whether you’re the one planning the party for your friends or if…

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How to use a Draw Names from a Hat App for Your Next Gift Exchange

How to use a Draw Names from a Hat App for Your Next Gift Exchange

Trading gifts with friends, family, and coworkers is so much fun that it’s hard to imagine how it could get any better. But surprisingly, it can!  You can make your next gift exchange party more fun by using a draw names from a hat app. Sure, there’s an app for everything these days. But a gift exchange app really does solve a lot of problems and can make your next party go a lot smoother.  How Does a Draw Names…

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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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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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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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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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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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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;…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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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3 New Year’s Eve Gift Exchange Games to Start the Year Off Right

3 New Year’s Eve Gift Exchange Games to Start the Year Off Right

Saying the holidays are hectic is like saying water is wet. Everyone knows that. There’s so much hustle and bustle packed into a few short weeks. There are office parties and family parties and visits and shopping and more. New Year’s Eve comes almost as a surprise; like, “Oh yeah, now this.” That’s why we use New Year’s as a time to exhale, relax, and reflect. Our main tradition is to gather a small group of friends who we didn’t…

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How to Use a Draw Names Out of a Hat Generator

How to Use a Draw Names Out of a Hat Generator

It used to be that every Thanksgiving, during the post-feast repose, we’d draw names for Secret Santa. People would write down their names and three gifts they wanted. We’d toss it all into a hat or bowl, mix it up, and pass it around the table to draw.  It was always fun seeing people look at their names and laugh or look around trying to play it cool. It was a fun tradition.  That’s why, when we moved to a…

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Top Inclusive Winter Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

Top Inclusive Winter Holiday Gift Exchange Ideas

Every year, my wife and I host a Christmas party. We’ve got a playlist with both classics and obscure novelty songs, all the lights, a tree, eggnog, the whole nine yards. Over the years, it’s become a favorite tradition among our friends and family.   But last year, as we were making the playlist, we started talking about how weird it was that we only had Christmas music. After all, there are a lot of different holidays towards the end of…

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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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5 Unique Gift Exchange Themes for Adults

5 Unique Gift Exchange Themes for Adults

One of the great joys in life is having old friends. Knowing people for years—or decades—gives you a perspective on life that gets richer as you age. One of the other great joys of life is making new friends. Creating friendships as an adult gives you a whole new shared language to develop.  Friendships are as important for adults as they are for children, and one of my life philosophies is that they should be celebrated. One way to do…

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Why You Should Use an Electronic Way to Draw Names from a Hat

Why You Should Use an Electronic Way to Draw Names from a Hat

Recently, we hosted a barbeque and decided to play horseshoes. We were going to divide teams by drawing names out of a hat, so I volunteered my old trusty White Sox cap. My wife looked at me for a full two seconds before declaring that maybe we’d use a “less comprehensively sweaty” way of picking teams.  That made sense. And it illuminated something important: when you’re drawing names from an actual hat, you need an actual hat, with all its…

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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,…

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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…

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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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