Organizing a Gift Exchange

  • Starting a New Exchange
    To begin an exchange, login to your account. On your homepage, you can click on the button that says Start A Gift Exchange from the middle of your homepage. If you are using the iPhone app, you can click on the arrows icon from the bottom of your homepage and select Start New Exchange.

    You can follow the setup wizard, and will be able to select from any existing group you may have, or enter information to create a new group. If you are using an existing group, you will have the option to add or remove group members during the setup process.

    By default, organizers are automatically included in each exchange. If you want to just organize. and not be included in the draw, uncheck the box that says "I am also participating in this exchange" when you create the exchange. You can always change your RSVP later on the left-hand side of the exchange.
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  • Preventing Participants From Drawing One Another
    This is easy and essential for many gift exchanges! Here's how:

    1. Invite everyone to the exchange.

    2. Once you are on the exchange homepage, click on the button at the top of the screen that says Draw Restrictions.

    3. Check off "exclusions" for each person. Each name that is checked off will not be drawn by that participant. Once you have made all of your restrictions, select Save Restrictions for that participant. Repeat steps for each person that needs to be restricted from drawing another person.

    Once you have set up restrictions for your group, they will be in place for any future exchanges with this same group. Keep in mind, restrictions are unique to each person, so if you don't want Jane to draw John, or John to draw Jane, both will need a restriction. Only the organizer is able to see these restrictions.


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  • Inviting People Who Do Not Have an Email Address
    1. From the gift exchange homepage, click on "Invite People."

    2. In the form, enter the person's first and last name and use your own email address, or the email address of a person that will act on their behalf -- that way any email messages for offline participants will be directed to a person.

    3. On the gift exchange page, click on the "Participants" tab. You can select the "Accept" option to the right of their name, since you know they are planning to participate.

    4. You can now communicate the exchange details to offline participants in whatever way is most convenient for them.
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  • Including Children in Your Gift Exchange
    First, invite each child separately. Enter their first and last name and use their parents' email address.

    Their parents will be able to RSVP for them, communicate the details of the gift exchange and monitor their activity on the site. The parents will need to create an account for each child that is participating, and create a unique username and password for each account.

    To make life even easier, parents can link children's accounts to their own so they can easily switch between accounts.
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  • Changing the Email Address for Someone in Your Exchange
    1. Click on the exchange name from your home page, and then select the button that says "Participants".

    2. At the top of the participant list, you will see two options next to the word View. Select the detailed view to get your full list of participants. To the right of each participant name you will see an arrow that will allow you to expand their information. You will see "Send Gift Exchange Link" or "Change User Info." Click on the button that is shown, and a pop-up box will appear and allow you to enter a new email address. Once the new email address is entered, the exchange information will be resent to the new email address.
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  • Adding Participants After Names Have Been Drawn.
    1. Click on the name of your exchange from your homepage, and then click on the text that says Add a Latecomer?

    2. Enter the name and email address for as many people that you need to add to the exchange.

    3. You will see a yellow banner indicating that you have latecomers for your exchange. Click "Draw Names" when you are ready to draw names. If there is more than one person, the latecomers will be assigned to each other and the rest of the assigned draws for your exchange will not change. If you have only one latecomer, you must select a name to assign the new person to, and the latecomer will receive the name that person currently has.

    People may also RSVP after names are drawn. These people will be listed as latecomers, and all latecomers will be assigned a draw when you click the Draw Names button in the latecomers section of the exchange page.


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  • Seeing Who Each Person Drew
    Only the organizer can view a summary of who each person has drawn; by default, we hide all info about who drew whom. To view the draw summary, from your homepage, click on the name of your exchange and then click the "Participants" button from the top of the page.
    There are two options to view participant data. The basic view will allow the organizer to see each name that has been drawn, and the detailed view will provide address, shipping and assignment change options. Either view will allow the organizer to select "Show" beside a single participant to check just one pairing, or "Show All Drawn Names" to see the matches for the whole group, including their own.


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Participating in a Gift Exchange

  • Joining an Exchange
    You need to have an invitation from the organizer in order to join an exchange.

    You can be invited several ways, so once you have your invite, click on the link that you receive from the organizer (either by email, on a link from Facebook or Twitter as a sign-up link in an email). Simply follow the instructions on the page to RSVP. If you have not established an account, you will need to create an account to RSVP. Each person needs to have their own account with a unique user name and password.
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  • Socializing and Wishing Before Names Are Drawn.
    Once you have accepted the invitation to participate in an exchange, you will be able to view information about the exchange from your Elfster home page.

    You can click on the exchange name, and should see a list of fellow participants, view the information about the spending limit, and how your group is going to exchange your gifts. You can add items to your own wish list, and your wishes will remain on your list until you remove them.

    A sign-up deadline is set up for your exchange. Once this date has passed, you will receive an email from Elfster letting you know the name of your draw.
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  • I Lost the Email That Told Me Who I Drew
    All of the information about your exchange can be viewed from your Elfster account.

    When you get back to your Elfster home page, click on the exchange name and the name of your draw will be shown on the next page. From there, you can view the wish list of your draw by selecting the View Wish List button. You can click on the name of your person to view their profile page, and ask them anonymous questions, or send them a message. The messages may be sent as anonymous, or not, so check off the option to send as anonymous if you do not want your name to be shown.
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  • I Am Not Receiving Email From Elfster
    Make sure you allow email from "the-elves@elfster.com" and add "the-elves@elfster.com" to your address book.

    If you are in an office environment, let your IT team know that you are expecting and would like to receive emails from the-elves@elfster.com

    You should also check your junk mail, bulk mail, or spam folders to see if the message might have ended up there.

    If you still don't see the message, you can ask the organizer to resend your exchange link. They can even send it to another mailbox if you have an alternate email address.

    Elfster messages will always get into Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL accounts and we continue to test with those email providers regularly.
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  • Finding a Gift For My Draw
    To get ideas, you can view the profile for your draw by clicking on the name of your exchange, and then clicking on the View Wish List button with your draw's name. You will see their full profile page.

    If they do not have any items on their wish list, or you want to learn more about them, you can click on the "Ask a Question" button to send them a question or two. This is a great way to have fun with your exchange.


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  • Setting Email Preferences
    Click on the down arrow from the top right hand corner of your home page and select "Settings" from the drop down menu. Click on the Email Notifications tab to set your email preferences.
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  • Sending Anonymous Questions and Messages
    If you are participating in an exchange, you can click on the name of your exchange from your home page, and then select the name of the person you would like to send a question to from the list of exchange participants. Click on the name of the person, and you will see the option to Send a Message or Ask a Question on the left-hand side.

    The questions are all sent anonymously. When you send a question to someone, it will be sent to them via email, and then shown on their profile page. The recipient may choose to answer or dismiss the question.


    The messages will allow you to select if you want them to be anonymous or show your name. The messages can be viewed on your own account by selecting the word messages from the left-hand side of your home page. You may not view the messages between other participants.
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Wish Lists

  • Adding to your wish list
    1. To create a new wish list, click on the button that says "New Wish List" from the middle of your home page. If you want to add to an existing list, you can click on that wish list name.

    2. To add an item, click on the button that says Add to Wish List

    You will see a text box that will allow you to search for an item that you type in. From your search results, you can select Wish to add it to your list. You can also copy and paste a URL from any other website. To do this, you can click on the Link button above the search bar and then paste your URL into the box.

    Finally, you can also click on the Text button above the search bar and type in text to describe anything that you would like.
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  • Creating separate wishlists for separate gift exchanges
    It's easy to create separate wish lists for your different exchanges.

    1. Click on the link that says "New Wish List" from the middle of your home page.

    2. You will be prompted to make a name for your wish list, and select the wish list type using the Wish List Settings button.

    The settings below the title will allow you to select which group can view which list. You can repeat the wish list set-up for your second list, and check off the group name for each exchange to view.
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  • Marking wish list items as purchased
    You may mark an item as purchased from the wish list of your friends or exchange members.

    1. Click on the friends button from the main menu.

    2. Select the name of the person.

    3. Click the text that says "Mark as Purchased" next to the item you would like to mark. If you would like to return the item to the wish list as unpurchased, you will see the option to click to "Undo" the mark.

    Once you have marked an item as purchased, other people viewing this will be able to see it has been purchased, but the person wishing for it will not see any difference.
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  • Sharing your wish list
    To share your wish list, select the wish list name from your home page. Towards the top right hand side of the wish list, you will see the share icon. Once you click on the share icon, you can share your list via email, or copy and paste a widget to your blog.
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  • Changing the order of items in my wish list
    You can control the order in which your wish list items appear on your wish list. To move items, simply drag and drop them to get them in the order you would like them to appear.
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  • Removing items from your wish list
    1. Log in to your Elfster account.

    2. Click on "Your Wish Lists" in the page header -or- click on an individual wish list below.

    3. From the "Your Wish Lists" screen click on the desired wish list.

    4. Look through the list to identify the item you want to remove.

    5. Click the delete or trash can icon.

    6. You will be asked to confirm that you would like to delete the item. Click either "Delete" to complete the request or "Cancel."
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  • Creating different types of wish lists
    1. Log in to your Elfster account.

    2. After logging in, you will see your home screen.

    3. To create a new wish list, simply click the large "New Wish List" button appearing under the "Your Wish Lists" section.

    4. This will take you to the "Your Wish Lists" screen, which will display the "Create A New Wish List" form.

    5. First, enter a descriptive name for your new wish list in the field provided.

    6. You can further customize your wish list by setting the wish list type. For example, you could create a Valentine’s Day list to share with your significant other, or a Private list that only you can see.

    7. Please note that when selecting some types of wish lists, the Wish List Name field will automatically be filled in with a generic name, for example when selecting "Bucket List", the name defaults to "My Bucket List." If you like, you can customize the default name to something you prefer.

    8. A notes field has also been provided so that you can add additional information about your wish list. The notes you enter will be displayed in a yellow box at the top of your wish list.

    9. Once you have completed the form, click the Save button to finish creating your new wish list and you will be ready to add items to your wish list.
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  • Removing Old Wish Lists
    1. Log in to your Elfster account.

    2. Click on "Your Wish Lists" in the page header, or for mobile users, click the hamburger menu in the header and select "wish lists."

    3. This will take you to the Wish Lists screen, which displays all of your current wish lists.

    4. Identify the wish list you would like to remove, then click the trash can icon button to delete the wish list. To view the wish list toolbar, computer users will need to position their mouse pointer over the wish list. By default, the toolbar will already be displayed for mobile device users.

    5. After clicking the trash can button, you will be asked to confirm that you would like to delete the wish list. Click either "Delete" to complete the request or "Cancel."
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Goodies

  • Adding a Nickname to My Profile
    You can enter a screen name or nickname that will become part of your Elfster name.

    To do this, click on "your wish lists" text from the top banner to get to your own profile page.

    On the left hand side, you will see an "edit" button next to the word nickname. Click there and enter your nickname.

    Once you have added a nickname, it will be shown between your first and last name when you are on Elfster.
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  • Adding a Blog URL to My Elfster Profile
    You can enter the URL of your personal blog to your Elfster profile.

    To do this, click on " your wish lists" text from the top banner to get to your own profile page.

    On the left hand side, you will see an "edit" button next to words Blog URL. Click there and enter your blog address.
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  • Accessing Multiple Child Accounts
    You can create child accounts from your own account, and quickly and easily switch between your accounts.

    You will need to know the user name and password for each existing account in order to get this set up. Click on the down arrow from the top right hand side of your home page, and select Link Existing Account or Create Child Account.

    Enter the user name and password for an existing account, and you will then be able to see the name of the linked account when you click on the down arrow from your home page. If you have selected to Create Child Account, you will be prompted to assign a first name, last name, user name and password.

    Once the account has been linked to yours, you can move between the linked accounts by clicking on the down arrow and selecting the name of the account you wish to switch to.
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  • Using the Elfster Browser Button
    You can quickly and easily add items to your Elfster wish list using the "Elf It" Browser Button.

    Click on the wish list button from your home page, and then select Add to Wish List.

    Next, select the Get the Browser Button text from the top right hand side of the page. You will be able to drag and drop the link into your browser's toolbar. Once you have the “Elf It” button, you can easily add anything to your wish list whenever you are browsing the website of any store on the internet. When you "Elf It" from a website, our elves will magically grab the link so your friends know exactly what you are wishing for.
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Friends

  • Adding friends to your profile.
    You can add friends that are already using Elfster, even if they are not in your gift exchange!

    1. Log into your Elfster account.

    2. From your home page, click on the "Friends" button in the left side menu. If you are using the app, the friends list may be found at the bottom of your home page, and is labeled Friends.

    3. Enter the name or email address of the friend you are searching for in the text box (not available in the app -- select the more button in the app, and then Go To Website).

    4. Enter the email address of the friend you want to add.

    You may also share your wish list with anyone by clicking on the share icon from the right hand side of your list. You will be given the option to share with them via email. Once someone accepts your invitation to follow your wish list, they will also be listed in your friends list.

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  • Who is included in my list of friends?
    On the web site, the friends list is those people you are following. You also have an option to see who is following you or your friends from Facebook that are using Elfster. Elfster suggests some other people you might like to follow there, too. On the iPhone app, your friends list includes anyone that you follow.
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  • Removing someone from my friends list.
    If you want to un-follow someone on your friends list, you can click on the down arrow from the top of your home page, then select Settings, and the "Following" tab to see the list of those accounts you are following. You will also see the option to un-follow anyone on your list. The "Followers" tab allows you to block people from following you. If you are the organizer of a group and need to remove someone, you can click on the word Groups from your home page, select the Manage Group option, and the Member List to edit.
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Advanced Exchange Options

  • Organizer Features
    As the organizer of an exchange, you are able to see the organizer panel at the of your gift exchange home page. Here you can view all the exchange details, and make changes as needed.

    The About tab gives you the general details of the exchange.

    The Edit tab will allow you to change the exchange name, description, spending limit, as well as the dates. There is also the option to delete an unwanted exchange.

    The Participants tab will allow you to see a full list of the participants in your exchange, as well as their drawn names once names have been assigned. Organizers may also accept the invitation for a person who has not RSVPd to the exchange here, and can remove anyone who is no longer participating. At the top right hand side of your list you will see an option to select a basic view with a drop down menu for each participant, or the detailed view with all the information included in the table.

    Privacy and Options gives the organizer the chance to select who the group may send questions to, who may send an email to the whole group, and limit the contact information that participants may see. On this same page, you can also select to require that someone has completed a previous exchange with your group in order to sign up for the current exchange.
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  • Gallery and Thank You Notes
    When the exchange is over, all participants will be prompted by email to send a Thank You note. When the note is sent, they are able to upload a photo of their gift. The photos of your exchange gifts will all be saved to the exchange gallery wall. All participants may view this by clicking on the exchange name from their home page and selecting the word gallery above the name of their draw.
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  • Marking Gifts as Sent, Received and No Shows
    When your exchange is underway, participants will have the option to mark their gifts as sent or received once they have placed them in the mail, or gotten their gift. This can be found by clicking on the exchange name from their home page. The next page will allow them to Mark as Sent or Received. They will be asked to enter tracking or shipping information that will be sent to the recipient. When a gift is received, the recipient may mark their gift as received in addition to sending a thank you note.

    If a person does not send their gift, the organizer may mark them as a "No Show". When a person has been marked as a no show, they will not be able to join any future exchanges with your group until they complete the exchange. The organizer may mark someone by clicking on the exchange name and selecting the participants tab. If the gift is received and the recipient acknowledges receipt, the No Show mark wil be removed. The organizer may also remove the No Show flag.
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  • Meet and Gift
    Meet and Gift means that each person gives and receives one gift. The person you give to is the same person that gives to you. The exchange is not anonymous, similar to penpals.

    Elfster hosts Meet and Gift exchanges throughout the year that allow members of the Elfster community to sign up to send gifts to each other. We offer exchanges for participants in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Some Elfster Meet and Gift exchanges require previous participation in an Elfster Meet and Gift to join the exchange.
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  • Creating a Poll for your group
    Setting up a poll to ask questions of your group is quick and easy. This feature is only available to organizers. Simply go to your home page, select the word groups from the left hand side of your home page name, and then choose the group name. From there, you can select the text that says Start a Poll. You will be prompted to enter your question as well as add the poll options to serve as your answer choices. Once the poll has been created you can hover over the poll, and pin the poll to the top of your group activity feed if you would like. All group members will receive an email asking them to vote on your poll, and will be able to see the poll results on their activity feed.

    Great poll topics include gift exchange theme ideas, party meeting times, spending limit choices and party locations.
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Meet and Gift - Elfster's Public Exchanges

  • RULES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF ELFSTER MEET AND GIFT EXCHANGES
    *By signing up to an Elfster Meet and Gift exchange, you are agreeing to send a gift based on the exchange’s theme and within the spending limit. You must be 18 or older to participate in Meet and Gift. You will send to, and receive from, the same person; these exchanges are not secret. You may only sign up once to any exchange; you may not sign up for anyone else including family members.

    *You are expected to send a gift no later than the final day of the exchange (the last day of the month), or to contact the organizer and/or your partner as soon as you know that gifts will be late.

    *We recommend retaining a receipt of all gifts purchased and/or post office receipts. Tracking numbers are not mandatory, but are recommended, particularly for international gifts.

    *Those who sign up for, but do not complete their exchange, will be marked as a No-Show, and will not be able to participate further in the group until they complete any outstanding exchanges.
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  • Basic Elfster Meet and Gift Exchange Information
    What Is Elfster Meet and Gift?
    While we love hosting exchanges for friends, family, and online groups, we also regularly run public exchanges for anyone to join. These are administrated by the Elfster staff and are open to anyone, even if you’ve just signed up for Elfster.

    How often do they happen?
    Our Meet and Gift exchanges happen on every EVEN month – February, April, June, August, October, and December.
    We also have Canadian & UK region-specific exchanges that happen on ODD months – January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    How do I know it's an official Elfster Meet and Gift?
    Elfster Meet and Gift groups have a green checkmark next to their name; when you hover over this icon with your mouse, it will say "Verified." Elfster Meet and Gift exchanges are also always administrated by one or more Elfster staff members. The organizer will always be called out in some way as a staff member, such as the "MeetandGift" account with Elfster elf logo, or a specific elf such as Anna Marie "Elfster Elf" Privitere.
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  • How and When to Join Elfster Meet and Gift Exchanges
    How many exchanges can I join?
    As many as you would like and can afford! However, some exchanges may require one or more prior Meet and Gift exchange to be completed, while others may be for only a specific country (Canada) or region (UK). Please read the exchange description carefully.

    When can I join?
    Meet and Gift exchanges will extend invitations to join around the first week of each month, and names will be drawn around the middle of the month. Gifts must be mailed out by the last day of the month (28th, 30th, or 31st depending on the month). Check the exchange page you want to participate in for more specific information on dates.

    I missed the signup deadline! Can I still join?
    Meet and Gift exchanges may accept latecomers depending on the exchange, but will do so no later than 5 days or halfway through the exchange, whichever is longer, if there is a person to pair you with. If you've signed up as a latecomer and have not been paired, you can contact the organizer to inquire.

    Will I be paired with someone in my country?
    We ask for volunteers when you sign up for a Meet and Gift exchange if you are willing to ship internationally and begin by pairing those participants together. If you live outside the US, you may not be paired with someone within your country simply because there may not be another person from your country or there may be an uneven number. Some exchanges will assign members regardless of country. Please read the exchange description and any posts by the organizer carefully and if you're not sure, please ask!

    Will I be shipping internationally?
    When you sign up for a Meet and Gift exchange, you will have the option to volunteer for international shipping. If you prefer to ship within your country, DO NOT check this box. If you're willing to ship to another country (or purchase items from a website local to your partner), DO check this box.
    For users outside of the US, we will try our best to pair you with someone in your country and/or region as signups permit. If you have any questions about international shipping, please contact the exchange organizer.

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  • What to do when Names are Drawn in Elfster Meet and Gift Exchanges
    I’m in! When will names be drawn?
    Meet and Gift exchanges will generally draw names around the middle of the month on a weekday. You will receive an email letting you know that you’ve been paired up – this may come to your “Promotions” tab if you’re a Gmail user, or your “Spam” box depending on how strict your email security is.

    I’ve been paired up! When can I send my gift?
    You can send your gift any time after names have been drawn. Gifts must be sent on or before the last day of the month. Please be sure to mark your gift as sent when it is in the mail, and include a tracking number if applicable. Be sure to hang onto your receipt from purchasing the item and/or the post office!

    I can no longer participate! What should I do?
    As soon as you know you will not be able to complete an exchange, please contact the exchange organizer (you can find this on the left of any exchange, or a pinned post at the top of an exchange). From there they can assess what to do next.

    How do I select a gift?
    Elfster does not sell items directly. You can choose something off of your partner’s wish list, or surprise them by picking out something yourself.

    Can I send a gift card, cash, or cheque?
    For a variety of reasons, we do not permit users to send gift cards, cheques, or cash, and they are not considered appropriate gifts. Users who send these instead of an actual gift may be marked as a No-Show for not successfully completing the exchange. In short, you are signing up to send an actual gift.

    My partner doesn’t have a wish list! What should I send?
    Pairings in a Meet and Gift exchanges are not secret, so you can message your partner at any time to get to know them a bit better. If they do not respond, you will have to surprise them – just remember to stay within the theme of the exchange!
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  • Spending Limits in Elfster Meet and Gift Exchanges
    What is the spending limit?
    Spending limits will vary depending on the exchange theme. Some will cost a minimal amount, while others may ask you to make a higher dollar value commitment. Please read the exchange description to see what the limit is.

    Do I have to spend that much?
    Spending limits are just that – a limit. Unless otherwise noted, they DO NOT include shipping. We encourage elves to spend within their own budget, but as a general rule of thumb to not fall below 25% of the exchange limit is a good minimum to expect to spend.
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  • If You Did Not Receive a Gift From An Elfster Meet and Gift Exchange
    The exchange is over and I don’t have a gift yet! Help?
    Many exchange gifts are sent the last few days of an exchange and are en route when the exchange ends. Here’s 3 steps you can take to see when your gift might arrive:
    1. Check if your partner has marked it as sent, and if they included a tracking number/estimated delivery date, OR
    2. If you have no tracking information or delivery date estimate, click on your partner’s name and choose “SEND A MESSAGE” and let them know their gift has not arrived yet, OR
    3. Click the button that says “NOT YET – SEND AN EMAIL” to contact your partner via email to ask them when your gift might be arriving.

    The exchange organizer will announce the day after the exchange is completed when No-Shows will begin being flagged, usually about two weeks after the exchange date has passed. Remember, there is often a good reason why a gift has not been sent out yet, so please be patient and polite with your elf!

    The exchange is over and I don’t have a gift even after waiting! Help?
    Once the exchange organizer announces they will be marking No-Shows, please follow the instructions in their post, which will typically be to email them, including which exchange the gift has not been delivered from. You MUST have marked your gift as sent and/or have proof of purchase/mailing and may be asked for it while the exchange organizer investigates a missing gift.

    The exchange is over and my partner didn’t mark their gift as received! Help?
    Generally speaking, an exchange will be considered complete if your gift has been marked as sent with tracking information showing it arrived at the destination. If you have questions about whether your gift was received, please contact your partner.
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  • If You Did Not Send a Gift / Were Marked as a No-Show In An Elfster Meet and Gift Exchange
    The exchange is over and I wasn’t able to send a gift yet!
    We understand that life events take priority over an Elfster exchange, particularly in the case of family emergencies. If you’re unable to complete the exchange on time due to unforeseen circumstances, please reach out to the exchange organizer and/or your partner to let them know something has come up. If you have an estimated time when the exchange will be completed, let them know.

    I received an email saying I’ve been marked as a No-Show! Why?
    Participants who do not mark gifts as sent, and/or do not respond to their partner when they follow up to their partner’s messages may be marked as a No-Show. This is a way to ensure those who do not complete their exchanges cannot participate moving forward until their current exchanges are completed. To remove your No-Show flag, you simply need to send a gift and for it to be acknowledged as received.

    I received an email saying I’ve been marked as a No-Show, but I sent a gift! What do I do?
    There will be a post at the top of the exchange with the organizer’s email address – please reach out to them with your proof of purchase and/or post office receipt and/or tracking number. The organizer can follow up if additional details are needed.
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