The holidays can be a special time of year, but also pretty stressful. I find that anything I can do to simplify things during these busy months is welcome, so I can spend more time focusing on my family and friends and enjoying the fun things the season brings. Buying gifts is one of those things that can be fun, but can also bring added pressure and demands on our limited time.

One great solution I’ve found to help simplify gift-giving is It’s a free website that facilitates the drawing of names for gift exchanges. My husband and I have used it many times over the past several years on both sides of our families. I also used it last year for a gift exchange in my Mom’s group.

We find that agreeing with a group of people to draw names for gift-giving has many advantages:

  • First, each person only has to buy one gift, instead of several. This saves a lot of time and energy. You can focus on getting one person something special, instead of rushing to buy everyone you know something, no matter how suitable it is.
  • Second, each person can potentially receive one higher-quality gift instead of several small, random gifts that they may or may not want or need.

What impresses me so much about Drawnames is that it doesn’t just draw names; there are several additional features that make the process really easy and fun. It is very simple and user-friendly.

  1. You create your group by entering each person’s name and e-mail address. Everyone in the group receives an e-mail inviting them to the gift exchange.
  2. Once all parties have signed up (or on a specified date), the website automatically draws names and each participant receives an e-mail telling them who they will be buying for. This is a nice way to keep it completely anonymous. Not even the organizer of the group will know who got whose name.
  3. Each person has the ability to enter a wishlist so that the gifter has an idea of what that person would like. The wishlist also has the functionality to include links directly to certain items on the internet.
  4. If you have questions for the person you are buying for, you can send them an anonymous message through Drawnames to get more information. There is also a group message board for group-wide communications.

Some extra features that are really nice are that you can set exclusions, so that certain people can’t draw other people. This is useful so that a husband and wife don’t pick each other, for example, since they may already be buying one another gifts separately. Drawnames will also keep track so that people don’t pick the same person two years in a row, if you repeat a gift exchange with the same group. You can set a monetary range or limit so that everyone is purchasing gifts that are roughly the same value.  What could be simpler?

It has worked like a charm every time we’ve used it, and takes what could be a complicated process and really simplifies it. I highly recommend this website, and since it’s free, you really can’t lose with it! Happy Holidays, and I hope this gift exchange option helps make the season brighter!

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