Elfster | A Secret Santa Generator | A Helpful Illustrated Guide

I adore the holidays! Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Birthdays, Valentine’s Day. If it’s a holiday, I want to celebrate it- much to my children’s delight and my husband’s chagrin. Ha!

A few years ago, my family was taking stock of how much our family was growing (so many nieces and nephews!) and decided instead of buying every person in our family a gift we would go with two Secret Santa groups.

One Secret Santa for all of the kids and one Secret Santa for all the adults.

The kids Secret Santa was no problem, we draw names. Done.

But how were we supposed to draw names for the adults and make sure no one knew and that we didn’t get ourselves?

We live in a modern age, so I Googled it.

That’s when I discovered Elfster.  Holy game changer, Batman.

Read on for the reason that Elfster is going to rock your socks and stop all of those obligatory “returns” trips after every holiday.


Elfster: A Secret Santa Generator

If you are like me and struggle to think of things your loved ones will love. Or just hate having to stand in the returns line the day after Christmas with the power of a thousand suns. Elfster is the answer to both these problems.

Related Posts: 

Christmas Savings Plan | How to Save Money this Christmas

How Does Elfster Work | Using Elfster

Create an Account

The first thing you need to do is create an account.

elfster login

Elfster Friends

Once you’ve created an account you can invite your friends and family.  First, they will need to sign up for an Elfster account as well. Once they’ve signed up for an account you can search for them by name or email address and then “follow” them– similarly to Facebook.

elfster friends

Creating Wishlists

Now that you have “followed” your friends and family, you can create wishlists.

elfster wishlist

As you can see, you have the option to make your wishlists public, private or just to share with a select few people.

You can also create multiple wishlists and name them accordingly.

For example, you want to create a wishlist for this Christmas? “Christmas 2018”

Perhaps you want to make a wishlist for your child’s graduation that’s coming up? “Sara’s Graduation”.

Adding items to your Elfster Wishlist

Once you’ve got your wishlist created you can start adding items. There are three different ways you can add items to your wishlist: search, link, or text.

Search:  searching for the item that you want using the Elfster search bar and then add what you want.

Link: you add the hyperlink to what you want. You also have the ability to edit the title. Generally, this is where I would add specific details like colors or sizes.

Text:  You write in your wish. “Trip to the Moon”, “Carwash”, etc.

Gift Exchanges

If or when you want to create your own Secret Santa gift exchange you can set up those details under the “gift exchanges” tab.

elfster gift exchange

Then you fill in the details to include: who you want to invite, when the exchange will happen, where the exchange happens, the spending limit, and the RSVP date.

Note: Once the exchange is finished being set up. You can go into the exchange itself and set “draw restrictions” so that the same people don’t draw the same person again, or sisters don’t draw each other– very customizable based on your needs.

You can even set it up and not participate in the actual exchange!

elfster gift exchange

Once all the details are finalized, you send out the invitations– either through email or by sending the hyperlink.

So easy!!

elfster invitations

How to Use Elfster All Year

My family has been using Elfster for a number of years now and this is generally how we’ve had the most success with it.

  • We add to it all year. If you have kids, you know they are always asking for stuff. Instead of just giving them an immediate “no” I let them add it to their wishlist with a “we’ll see”.
  • I add “needs” to the list.  When my girls need new mittens, paints for their drawing class, etc. I add it to their wishlist. It satisfies the need while saving myself money. My parents are going to give my kids a Christmas gift anyway, why not let it be something that they need versus some random thing they want this week, that they end up playing with for a few weeks and then get tired of?!?
  • I stop buying stuff in the last 3 months of the year or the month before birthdays. Save yourself money and save their “wishes”.
  • We add everything.  I add all year to a general wishlist and then move everything over to a more specific list right before the holiday. It’s at this point that I edit their wishes. Maybe the book they were asking for back in July, they don’t want any more in December…

I hope this has been helpful as we step into this holiday season. Please comment below with how this has worked for you!

Are you looking for the PERFECT Christmas gift? Read on for this guide on how to get your friends and family just what they want this Christmas!

Photo of author


Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.

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