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Category: Gift Exchanges

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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How to Play Secret Santa with a Techy Twist

How to Play Secret Santa with a Techy Twist

My uncle sat there staring at us, like he did every Christmas, glancing at every upturned face with the suspicion of a trained detective. One by one, he’d look at us, trying to spot a clue: a twitching smile, a glance away, a tell-tale blush. He was trying to figure out his Secret Santa.  He never got it right.  Eventually, someone would just confess. Other people had gifts to open. That was our ritual: watching a person guess every name…

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School Leaders Make Kindness Count for Summer Gift Exchange

School Leaders Make Kindness Count for Summer Gift Exchange

Show of hands — who was afraid of the “big, bad Principal” when you were a kid? Growing up, I think we all had an innate fear of being sent to the dreaded Principal’s Office (and even worse, being singled out over the loudspeaker for our misdeeds in the process). Like a scene straight out of the classic tale of The Principal from the Black Lagoon, we contemplated horrifying rumors about the “monster” behind that office door. Just saying, but I think…

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Popular Podcast Fans Host True Crime Book Exchange

Popular Podcast Fans Host True Crime Book Exchange

Every True Crime Has A Story To Tell Professor Plum. In the Conservatory. With the Candlestick. Or was it Miss Scarlet who may have had a motive? Hmm. When we were kids, my siblings and I always loved to gather around our kitchen table for family game night, which most of the time meant breaking out one of our favorite board games — Classic Clue. After all, what kid doesn’t love to solve a great murder mystery? We all loved…

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UK Artisans Host Gift Exchange to Support Colorful Community

UK Artisans Host Gift Exchange to Support Colorful Community

When you love what you do, you bring out the best in yourself. And by putting your best self forward and standing out from the crowd, you can inspire the world. Throw in a spark of creativity, a splash of color, a whole lot of Girl Power, and the world will listen. Colorful. Bold. Playful. Driven. Each and every day, independent artists, makers and designers learn to cast aside inner doubt and insecurities to bring their cutting edge style and…

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How To Be Happy During The Christmas Holidays

How To Be Happy During The Christmas Holidays

Putting the “Me” Back in Merry: 15 Self-Serve Holiday Hacks What have you done for you lately? Don’t worry, Elfster is here to help. Somewhere between the age of childlike wonder, and getting all excited about car insurance, the holiday ritual loses its luster of revolving completely around you. We’ve all watched this scene play out: One day, Little Starry-Eyed You outgrows your finest pair of footie pajamas, and what happens next? The grown-ups suddenly buck! At the first sign of…

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10 Secret Santa Strategies To Keep Your Giftee Guessing

10 Secret Santa Strategies To Keep Your Giftee Guessing

Playing dirty? Perhaps. Totally worth it? Oh, yeah! So you think Secret Santa is just a quaint little yuletide pastime, something akin to fireside chats and a merry jaunt around the mall in a tiny Victorian train? Don’t fall into the trap, folks. Secret Santa is, and always will be, a GAME. That’s right, a GAME. And in games, as in life, there are winners and there are losers in this game of strategy. A Riddle: At the end of…

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Celebrate Christmas in July with a Summer Gift Exchange

Celebrate Christmas in July with a Summer Gift Exchange

Christmas in July is the perfect excuse to plan a festive summer soiree and give guests all the holiday feels smack dab in the middle of the summer.  It’s also the perfect time to do a summer gift exchange since July is prime time for retailers to offer major deals on seasonal goodies. There are a few key elements you need to successfully pull off a Christmas in July gift exchange party. Planning A Christmas in July Party First off,…

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Celebrity Book Club Hosts Book Exchange to Express Love of Reading

Celebrity Book Club Hosts Book Exchange to Express Love of Reading

Editor’s Note: Article originally published 6/2018. This awesome group of booklovers recently wrapped up another successful summer book exchange for 2019, bringing them together for their seventh Gift Exchange in the past two years using Elfster. They keep going and growing! Read any good books lately? As I stare at the stack of unread books that has accumulated on my bedside table, I’m overwhelmed by my options. Like many folks, my favorite indulgence is curling up with a really good…

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How to Host the Best Secret Santa Book Exchange

How to Host the Best Secret Santa Book Exchange

A circle of moms in my neighborhood once hosted a Secret Santa book exchange but with a unique twist. We were supposed to give our giftee a book that best described us, and the receiver was supposed to guess their giver’s identity based on the book. It was a lot of fun and a really great way to get to know everyone. We enjoyed the event so much that we decided to make it an annual event. Now every year,…

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Secret Santa Themes for Family Gift Exchanges: Getting Everyone Involved

Secret Santa Themes for Family Gift Exchanges: Getting Everyone Involved

“We need to dust! And wash the curtains. And can somebody please find the other air mattress?” Our house was in a flurry of activity because we had relatives coming to visit. Not just one or two people, either—we were hosting 12 people at our house for a family reunion. Getting the house ready seemed to take days, but my sister and I cleaned faster and more thoroughly than ever before, fueled on by our excitement at seeing all our…

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