There’s a great episode of the TV classic “The Office” that shows possibly the worst Secret Santa party in history. One person draws their own name and doesn’t tell anyone. Another gives a co-worker an offensive gift. Another pulls an old shirt out of the back of his car to give someone else. It’s a disaster.
Secret Santa parties are a fun way for co-workers, family, small groups, and friends to swap gifts. They save money (you don’t have to buy something for EVERYONE) and can add excitement to any Christmas party.
But… They can be a hassle to organize. When do you draw names? What if someone can’t be there to participate? What do you get someone you barely know?
Fortunately, a smartphone app is the answer. Elfster was created by a husband, wife, and sister who were tasked with organizing their own Secret Santa party. With some family members out of state, they decided there must be a better way.
Here’s how the app works: Someone organizes the Secret Santa party and sends everyone who will participate a link to the app or the website. Even if they don’t have a smartphone they can participate using the Elfster website.
Each person can then add a few items they’d like. Elfster then draws the names, pairing each person with someone else (even if there is an odd number!)
The organizer can set up their drawing party where no one gets their spouse, partner, or closest friend’s name. Each participant can add Amazon links to items on their wishlist.
When it’s time to go shopping, each “elf” can see the wishlist and place an order through Amazon to have it delivered for free. If you want to remain anonymous, you can do that by selecting “gift options” within the Amazon order form.
Another feature of the Elfster app that I like is the ability to set up Zoom virtual Secret Santa parties for family members who are out of state and cannot attend in person. Elfster is free and available for Android, iPhone, and computer browsers.