Christmas approaches, along with one of our favorite holiday traditions: the Secret Santa gift exchange!
If you’ve never had a Secret Santa party (NOTE: not a white elephant exchange), we recommend it! There’s nothing like picking the perfect gift for a friend, and receiving something awesome in return.
You may wonder: what do Secret Santa Sites add? Why not just put everyone’s names on a piece of paper, have everybody draw, and move on with things? Well, for starters, that’s no fun. Aside from that, these applications help suggest gifts to givers, set dates and send reminders, establish information (like budgets) so everyone’s on the same page, and connect people that are far away. There are too many great reasons!
So, for newbies and veterans alike, please check out the…
Best Secret Santa Sites!
Simple Path: Drawnames
Drawnames gets the job done easily! Head on over to their website:
Creating an Exchange
You don’t even have to create an account yet: just hit the “Start Drawing Names” button, and begin the process! We’ll simplify the first steps…
You need just a few things for the first step: the participant names and their emails:
After that, you’ll find an information page. You aren’t required to create anything other than a name and email message, but we suggest including a date. We set the budget at $500. So far, after years of exchanging, we’ve had no problems…
At this point, you can send the invites! Participants will receive an email asking for confirmation. You can set a deadline, or wait until everyone joins. When the right conditions have been met, the “drawing” begins, and assignments are emailed to each person!
Once the emails go out, you should make an account. This allows you to create a wish list, record your hobbies/likes, and offer gift suggestions (a helpful guide for your gift giver).
We’ve used Drawnames for a number of years, and each time it’s served us amazingly well. The use of emails gets the job done quickly, the user interface appears clean and fresh, suggesting gifts and setting deadlines couldn’t be easier.
As a bonus, you can set gifting restrictions! If a couple is part of your friend group and already planning to gift each other, kindly help them draw another name. If you have an aunt who only gives clothes, make sure she can’t send any more badly-fitted jeans. If you have two coworkers that don’t get along, make sure they receive each other’s names!
Thorough Path: Elfster
Think about that name for a second. Elfster. Doesn’t it make more sense? The elves make the presents all year round, and the party itself is called the Secret Santa exchange. The big man gets all the Christmas credit…
If you’re an “elf,” and enjoy finding a gift as much as the actual exchange party, we love you.
Starting an Exchange
Head on over to the website!
You don’t need to create an account yet: hit the orange button labeled “Secret Santa Generator”! If you do make an account, this icon will become “Start a Gift Exchange”:
Once that’s finished, you’re on a familiar road: put in your email and set a password to create an account. Enter gift exchange information, budget, date, etc. Finally, Elfster finishes with the names and emails: place everyone’s information down, and send out those invites.
Here, you only NEED to set an exchange name and date.
Once you’re finished, and the names are out, you can create wish lists in preparation for the exchange as usual. Be warned: if you type in a gift, Elfster automatically searches for ideas on Amazon.com. The option for plain text must be selected. (It took us an embarrassing amount of time to figure this out:)
For starters, Elfster takes the options provided by Drawnames the next level! … At the cost of simplicity. Want to set drawing restrictions? You can now use the settings from all previous years, where Drawnames only carries over restrictions from the previous exchange. Want to see other people’s wish lists? Elfster allows you to “Follow” other people, like a social media app! These options can be confusing at first, but with time they become powerful allies.
“With great power comes great responsibility” – Uncle Ben
After all that hard work, want to spice up a gift exchange further?
Play the guessing game! Label every gift for the receiver… but don’t write down the sender. When someone receives a gift, they have three guesses to find the giver. Once they’re finished, the giver opens their gift and the cycle continues! Always a good time. 😀
Thanks for reading, enjoy the exchange!