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How to game Secret Santa with tech this Christmas

Whether you’re swapping presents with colleagues this year or struggling to organise a Secret Santa back home, there are plenty of ways you can use tech to make exchanging gifts easy in 2019. 

Here’s how to game Secret Santa with tech this Christmas.

Use a name drawing service

Whether you’re able to meet up with your fellow Secret Santa participants to assign your Santas or not, there’s no need to physically draw a name out of a hat in 2019.

If you’re personally a fan of the drama and suspense that comes with the hat method, feel free to skip ahead. For anyone looking for a simple way to organise their Secret Santa, here are some great options to consider.

DrawNames and Elfster are just two of a handful of websites allowing you to generate Secret Santa draws online.

With both, you can add friends, pick a date and set a budget for your gift draw, keeping your plans in one easy-to-refer-to place. You can even automatically exclude your fellow participants from drawing the same name they drew last year or set custom exclusions if you did your last draw by hand.

Once a group is all set up, each participant will receive an email or a message with the name they’ve drawn. Players can then create and share wish lists directly within the group to get ideas flowing both ways, within your Secret Santa budget.

DrawNames homepage

Image: DrawNames

Both sites have their perks.

With DrawNames, you can access an active draw simply by clicking the link in your inbox. This makes it super easy to check your name and add to your wish lists across devices without worrying about remembering a username or password.

Elfster, on the other hand, has an app but it does require participants to create an account to access it. While more time consuming, this might make Elfster a better choice if you plan to mail your gifts and want to share more sensitive information, like an address or phone number.

The Giving Machine is another Secret Santa generator worth mentioning. This site likewise allows users to organise draws and shop for gifts through a list of popular retailers the site. What makes the Giving Machine different is that the site takes the commission it receives from those sales and generates a donation for a chosen charity.

The Giving Machine is less feature-packed than the others, with no wish lists or exclusion options, but its a great way to get your Secret Santa sorted while spreading the Christmas cheer to those who may be less fortunate than you.

Make a wish list

While both DrawNames and Elfster come with their own built-in wish list creators, they’re by no means the only sites designed to make and share wish lists.

Amazon Lists

Image: Amazon

Perhaps the most obvious wish list destination is Amazon. Amazon’s Lists feature allows you to create a list of Amazon products you’d like to receive this Christmas and share it with your friends and family. You can also set push notifications for deals on your, meaning you might even be able to snap up your gift at a discount.

A quick Google search will also yield a number of results for wish list sharing sites that don’t force you to stick to Amazon products, including CheckedTwice.

Check their social media profiles

Some would argue that making a wish list takes the fun out of Secret Santa. Others simply can’t be bothered to make one. Both are valid arguments but they can leave you a bit in the lurch if you’re out of ideas for what to buy your drawn name.

If all else fails, it might be time to resort to some good, old-fashioned social media stalking.

Check what your friend is posting about on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and see if anything strikes inspiration. Maybe, if you’re lucky, they’ll have snapped a pic of that £15 bath and shower set you panic bought them on your last trip to Boots.

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