How to Draw Names for Christmas- Long Distance Style

November 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

This year, John’s parents, who are missionaries to Belarus, and John’s siblings (who are located all over the country) are convening with us in Wisconsin for Christmas. To say we’re excited is an understatement! However, this trip is financially pressing on us. We usually save for an entire year for our summer vacations, and having just drained our funds on our vacation that was only two months ago, we couldn’t help but take a deep nervous breath when it came to making the Christmas trip happen this year.

The same is pretty much true for everyone in the family- so instead of doing gifts for all, we decided to draw names. Sure, nothing new, but long distance? That posed a problem. So here’s how we handled it.

How to Draw Names for Christmas- Long Distance Style

What you’ll need:




Small Envelopes

Large Envelopes (mine fit a 5 x 7 card)

A drawing basket


First, request from everyone a short wishlist. I asked my family to keep a limit of $20 in mind (you can set however high of a limit you’d like). Then make up slips of paper for each adult with their wishlist. I also made up slips of paper of the children’s wishlists so everyone had the kids’ sizes, interests, etc. Include an instructional sheet as a reminder of gift price limit. Mine said this:

Enclosed is your SECRET gift recipient this year! Keep it quiet- No revealing who bought for who until Christmas day.
Remember that we’re trying to keep the gift(s) around $20.
Also remember that we can all buy for the kids!
Now, get shopping!

Print out all of the wishlists and cut them to size (I fit four to an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet). Write each person’s name on a small envelope and stuff each envelope with the children’s wishlists and instruction sheet. Fold the adult slips of paper in quarters, then dump them into a drawing basket.

Skype rounds: Start with one person (say, mom), draw FOR her, but closing your eyes, hold the slip of paper up to the webcam. Once she confirms she didn’t draw her or her husband’s name, fold the piece of paper in half and place it in her designated envelope- without looking! Then seal it up to reassure the person that you have no idea who they drew. Continue with each person until everyone has drawn a name. (We had about three different Skype sessions to make it all happen.) Oh, and pray that the last person to draw doesn’t end up with their own name. It can happen, and if it does you’ll just have to secretly switch it with someone else’s (yes, have an extra small envelope on hand!) and as the officiant of the drawing, keep your mouth shut about it. Make sure you aren’t the last person to draw, otherwise if you get your own name and have to switch with someone, you’ll know who’s buying for you.

After everyone has drawn and all of their envelopes sealed, mail them! Each person will receive the wishlists and a handy reminder of who they’re buying for. We did this beginning of November which gave us plenty of time to find the perfect gifts, not only for the person we drew but also for the kids.

Ah, stress free…


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