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Family Name Drawing_ A Christmas Tradition

Most of you have probably done some version of a Christmas Name Drawing before, whether it is with your friends, your family, or a Secret Santa setup. The basic principle is everyone’s names are put into a hat and each person draws one name. Whoever they draw out of the hat is the person they are “assigned” to that year. Pretty simple concept!

Our family has drawn names for Christmas ever since I can remember. I remember sitting around the table as a kid the day after Thanksgiving practically bouncing in my seat with excitement to see whose name I would draw that year. My mom was always in charge of writing the names down and making sure that no one was missed and there were no duplicates. We were always so miffed that Mom knew who had her because it was supposed to be a surprise. But at least no one was left out that way!

Lots of family in our family name drawing

Reasons to Do a Family Name Drawing

I loved this tradition for several reasons growing up. One reason I have already mentioned: the excitement! It was fun just drawing the names, but then we had a whole month trying to figure out who had drawn who while also trying to keep our own name a secret. Sharing rooms even added to the intrigue in the early years; it’s hard to hide your gifts in a shared bedroom so we all got creative with when to work on presents and where to hide them.

I also loved this tradition because it took a lot of pressure off of all of us. We never felt obligated to get everyone in our large family a present. You could if you wanted to of course, and there were many years that we gave one another drawings or little crafts that we made ourselves. But we never had to scramble with our allowance to buy a gift for our six other siblings and our parents, which made the holidays much more carefree and thus much more enjoyable.

This part has become more and more important as our family continues to grow! Not only do we have the original 7 kids and 2 parents, we also have 3 in-laws and 9 grandkids! Buying gifts for everyone is completely out of my budget. So it’s better for us both time and money wise to have only one person to focus on each year.

Finally, because I have fewer people to get gifts for, I get to spend more time on the gift for the person I draw. My family always makes fun of me because my presents have been notoriously late in the past. Because I like to put a lot of time into the gifts I give people, I don’t always make the deadline. But, I think most of my family will agree that I give pretty awesome gifts. The point is drawing names gives me the opportunity to either buy or make something really meaningful to the person I draw. Instead of frantically checking people off my list as I buy gifts I’ve barely thought about, I can focus on making my person feel special.

Family Name Drawing Pics

How our family does the Family Name Drawing

So those are some of the reasons I absolutely LOVE this tradition and plan to carry it on with my own family. Now, how does this tradition work in our family? As I mentioned, our mom sits down and writes down all of our names. She then puts them in a hat and we each draw a name out of the hat. If the name is not your own, that is your person for this Christmas! We make a master list of who has who that Mom keeps just to make sure that everyone is accounted for. Otherwise, your name is a secret! Don’t share it with anyone! We usually do the actual drawing on Black Friday.

Over the next month, you work on your present for the person you drew. We often had a spending limit when we were younger, though we didn’t always stick to it. The big reveal happened on Christmas Eve!

Every year on Christmas Eve night, we would gather together as a family. We would have whoever drew the youngest person’s name give their gift first. We would all watch in anticipation as the first person showed their hand and got up to give their present to our youngest brother Dalyn. After Dalyn opened his present, he would then give his present to the next person. We went in a chain as long as we could until we would get to someone who had already given their gift.

At that point, we would just restart the same way, have the person give their gift to the youngest person who has not yet gotten a present. This continues until the last person has received their gift. Don’t forget to take a picture with each pair together as they give their gifts! That is part of our tradition also. 🙂

Family Name Drawing Pics

Adjustments we have made to the Family Name Drawing

…now that we do not all live in the same house, have added more people to the drawing, and have a lot more young children involved:

-Mom draws the names for us and texts/emails us to let us know who we have for Christmas that year.

-We usually draw names before Thanksgiving to give everyone more time to get their presents ready for one another.

-One of us sets up a shared Google Sheets page and emails it to all of the adults. We fill in some of the things we would like to get as presents and share things we are interested (ie; books, gardenings, exercise clothes).

-We get together for Crouch Christmas every other year, so on those years we exchange presents on Christmas Eve just like we used to. On the years that we are apart, we will ship each other our presents early so we can open them in our respective homes.

-When we do the exchange together, we have whoever has the youngest person give their gift first. Then we have the person who has the next youngest kid give their present next, and so on. This keeps the children occupied and happy while the adults open their presents and prevents the youngest children from possibly waiting and being the last person to open their gift. It’s better all around for everyone. 🙂

-We have unofficially done away with the spending limit since none of us followed it anyway. We just try to be conscious of the amount we spend. So for example, we don’t get each other iPads or expensive headphones or anything like that. The gifts we try to exchange are more modest and more treasured.


Do you do draw names for Christmas gifts in your family?

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