I really don’t feel like editing tonight, I have another 2 wedding and 2 lifestyle shoots to finish editing, but they can wait until after Christmas now… I need time for me and my little family. So instead, I’ll blog about Christmas! LOL!

I really want to tell you about how we’ve done things a little differently this year. There are 8 adults in my family and 3 kids, that we all buy Christmas presents for normally. After all the presents were opened last year, we all spoke about how we all needed to cut back a little. So it was decided that this year, we would only buy presents for all the kids in the family, and our respective partners. And then, we would do a secret santa amongst the adults.

This way, each person only gets to buy for one other person, and not 6 people… huge time and money saving!

Because we knew in about October that we probably wouldn’t be getting together before Christmas Day, we knew that would mean drawing names out of hats was out of the question. I suggested that we use Elfster instead, and I set it up for everyone.

Elfster is awesome! It’s a website that you can use to set up a gift exchange. You can either organise a secret exchange, or an open one, and the site randomly chooses who you’re going to be buying for. It’s been such a pleasure having our Secret Santa organised electronically.

I added everyone to the gift exchange using their email address. I was then able to set up rules for the exchange… so that it wouldn’t randomly choose our partners as our gift recipients. So I said that I couldn’t be Lance’s secret elf, and Bryan couldn’t be Elaine’s secret elf… etc. That took me about 10 minutes and was pretty painless. Once everyone accepted the invitation, I asked the site to draw the names, and it sent emails to everyone telling them who they’re buying gifts for.

The system sends you reminder emails about the exchange… and in fact today it sent one saying that the gift exchange date is coming soon!

I love the wishlist too. You are able to choose something from their list, which doesn’t really help in South Africa because all the stores they list are US based. The site allows you to add items from other websites though, so I’ve been able to add things from my favourite online stores… Woolies, Yuppiechef etc to my wishlist! I even managed to find those gorgeous white skulls and white vases from the Ceramic Factory on Spree’s website and add that to my list! For the odd item that you cannot find online, the site also allows you to add text explaining what the item is.

Every time, someone that you’re following in the gift exchange adds something to their wishlist, you get an email.

The best part… no-one knows who their secret elf is.

Oh actually, the best part has been the savings!! Instead of spending hours and hours and hundreds of rands buying gifts for everyone, I’ve been able to get my Christmas shopping over quickly and it’s been a lot less expensive than normal! Win!

The kids have also enjoyed being a part of the secret… and Connor has tried so very hard to keep our secret santa recipients a secret from everyone else.

PS. I was not asked to write about this site… I found it a few years ago online, and this was the first time I’d used it properly and loved it and decided that more people needed to know about it.