Holiday Gift Help-Elfster

by Emily on December 14, 2011

Have you reached the apparent age where Christmas shopping becomes more difficult for all the people on your list?  This might be the time when you also actually feel poor after spending your entire budget on gifts.  A few years ago, we decided to “cut back” on all the spending related to Christmas gifts and did an exchange.  Because Sid and I were living in London at the time, it was harder for us to draw a name out of a hat so I found an online tool to help in the gift exchange-Elfster.

Elfster has worked great for us, and I wanted to share it.  (Keeping in mind, no one is paying me to say this!)  We started the first year with just Sid’s side of the family and the following year we did it with my side of the family.  There are a couple of loose rules that have been made….1.  Grandmas trump all rules, and they can buy what they want and 2.  Kids aren’t in the draw (although there’s only one kidlet right now so you can imagine she’s spoiled – but we can’t wait for cousins to spoil too).

The awesome thing about Elfster is that it is very simple to use, specially if you’re the “organizer.”  You start a group, enter in the email addresses of those who you’d like to participate, and then click the button that sends out the invite.  Once that is done, I go into some of the settings to rig the draw a bit.  (Yes, I said rig but I mean it in a good way!)  We don’t let couples draw each other because they might want to already give their partner a gift.  We don’t want to get in the way of that!  And a new feature you can click to not draw last year’s pick.

Once the invite has been sent and people agree to participate, then the fun begins.  You start to build your wish list online, and the news feed looks similar to Facebook with a running list of who has wished for what.  What I like about the wish list is that you can put in a direct link to a product that you want, and it will direct you to the exact page where you can buy it.  This helps out tremendously when you’re trying to find a specific sailing harness!  You can also just add pure text so if what you really want is a back-rub, then you can write just that!

Another note with Elfster, you can set this up for any kind of gift giving event…birthday, anniversary, work secret santa, etc!  I think this would be brilliant for a work exchange!

So, if you’re stuck for ideas, and you’ve drawn your crazy aunt….this might be a good solution for you and your family so everyone starts Christmas dinner in a jolly mood!

Wishing you all the best with holiday prep!


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