Cast of Characters

Kelly Connors: Office worker, sister-in-law of Julia
Julia Kassissieh: Office worker, sister-in-law of Kelly
Peter Imburg: Husband of Kelly, brother of Julia


Office in Jack London Square, Oakland CA



December, 2000

Julia, my sister, and Kelly, my wife, have 40 minutes at lunch to set up the family Secret Santa.

They decide a Secret Santa, like they did as kids, would be fun for the family. The family is bigger and is spread across 3 states.

8 stamped, addressed envelopes are spread out on the lunch room table; one for Mom, one for Grandtom, one for each of the 3 siblings, and each of their spouses. To the right of the envelopes is an Oakland A's baseball hat, and 8 strips of paper. Julia grabs the strips, and swirls the paper around in the hat. Kelly pulls a name from the hat and hands it to Julia who, without looking, puts the strip of paper in the first envelope. They repeat 7 more times until the last envelope has been stuffed.

There's time to spare. Pausing, Kelly considers "we should get somebody to check that nobody got their own name." Julia grabs a co-worker who checks each envelope and says "Kelly, you got your husband?" Oh no! Try again. Then again. And again!

Kelly comes home and tells me, her husband, about her day. This is the day the light bulb went on. I think to myself, "technology can help this problem". And the time is right to put a new twist on this classic gift giving ritual.

After some tinkering and tests, there is Elfster, a free online Secret Santa organizer and social networking platform for gift giving.

Today, Elfster gives time-strapped party planners and gift givers the tools to rediscover the joy of gift giving by organizing a Secret Santa gift exchange. We are serving over 10 million gift givers in more than 50 countries this year.

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460 Boulevard Way
Oakland, CA 94610

(650) e-l-f-s-t-e-r (353-7837)