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Family Gift-giving Idea - Secret Santa Help

Dec 09, 2014
Christmas morning...my 2013 Secret Santa Christmas Gift - exactly what I wanted! Camping included great sleep with this.

Christmas morning…my 2013 Secret Santa Christmas Gift – exactly what I wanted! Camping included great sleep with this.

If you have kids ages 11 through 19, you probably have a problem come Christmas time. Your kids WANT to give a great present but they haven’t saved up enough money to do anything but buy a $10 knick-knack. And on Christmas morning…well, the materialism of gifts somehow blows the “it’s the thought that counts” up the chimney. Let’s face it, even at age 10, your kids want to give you the same quality give you give them. That’s not materialist, it’s just human.

My family started a tradition of doing Secret Santa among our immediate family. We go to the mall and everyone knows our preset dollar limit (for example $75). During the first few hours, everyone goes around the mall taking photos of things they like (and including the store and price). We send the photos via text messages to everyone in our family (warning-data rates apply). Then we meet back up, hand out names secretly (more about this later) and the cash and head out shopping for our Secret Santa.

If you kids are young, then ask a friend or family member to join you at the mall to help your kids. One year we had my sister meet us at the mall in St Louis to help the boys out if they needed it. (Color me silly, but yes, I’ve let our kids roam free since 11 years old at the Jonesboro mall. I require 15 minute check-ins on their cell phone.)

Last year, Toni took a photo of a purse, a sweater and even some kitchen gadgets she thought would be fun to get. On Christmas morning, Ben proudly presented her with a purse she absolutely loved. There was no fake “oh, honey, that’s so lovely” that parents are so good at. Both the giver and receiver were pleased.

Now, I know what you are thinking…that takes all the fun out of it! But there are so many ways a gift-giver can go wrong and I really believe this is a great solution for a fun-filled Christmas morn.

And what better way for it to be perfect than to help them. I can assure you of two things 1) the boys favorite part of Christmas is Secret Santa and 2) every Christmas morning the boys are more excited to give their gift than to get their own. And I really mean that. Last year both boys were begging to do Secret Santa unwrapping on Christmas Eve…no, we didn’t but it was tempting. But this just goes to show how much we all love it.

Secret Santa GeneratorThe biggest problem with the process is handing out the names. We’ve tried different ways of doing it but this year I went online and found a great tool at DrawNames.com called “Secret Santa Generator.”

It was simple to use. I put in each of our names and email addresses, typed a welcome email and it sent out invitations to each of us. Once everyone clicked the link in their email the system passed out names to each of us. And if you have a bigger family, you can have the system remember the names each got last year and not give anyone the same name.

The website has sent an email to each family member asking them to click on a link to join in.

The website has sent an email to each family member asking them to click on a link to join in.

The entire process has been flawless.

Happy holidays, but more important, Merry Christmas.

P.S. if you have ideas on making Christmas special, please send them to brian@semo.net