big families and giving gifts

Coming from a family of two kids, I was a really excited to give gifts to Hawk's family of four kids when we first started dating because I love creating and giving gifts! But over the years we realized how expensive that gets, especially for the sisters recently out of college and grad school, and brother who just got married, and us with our two wee ones.

So last year we instituted a Secret Santa of sorts and chose to pair up, buying more for one person instead of less for many. We set a $ limit, used Elfster to pick names, and bought each other as much as we could up to that limit, but everyone knew who had everyone else.

I'm in charge this year, and I got everyone to agree to keep it secret, for reals, folks. Which is exciting. I love surprises like this (most party surprises, I loathe) and I'm already looking forward to giving my gifts! I just have to come up with a creative way to do so...

If you're looking for something similar, let me tell you what I love about Elfster.
  1. It's free. 
  2. You can pick names anonymously or publicly.
  3. You can create a Wish List so your gift-giver can get great ideas about what you like, if not get it exactly.
  4. You can message each other and send things like, Jordan and Rebecca, you're terrible at creating your Wish Lists in time for Cyber Monday. Hypothetically, of course.
Have you guys tried it? Is there another method you like to use? Or are you of the old school and you'd be aghast to do so?


p.s. Not perked or paid to promote Elfster:) But who needs it when it's a free service?


  1. My family is up to 14 people now, including spouses and kids, and we have used Elfster for many years now. We keep it a secret, though everyone makes it a big sleuthing game to figure out who has who. I like how easy it makes things, though I don't like the tendency that it creates to just click click buy and you're done with shopping. Last year I had my sisters name, and she had this painting on her list from a website. With a canvas and a little paint, I recreated a similar version for her, which I think was way cooler. :)

  2. Hey J! I'm so glad I found your blog. This will be the first year we've used Elfster (or something similar -- not sure) and I'm looking forward to it. My cousin is organizing and it'll be interesting to see how it works. Cheers, Rachelle


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