Eid al-Fitr falls on May 12 this year and celebrations will continue into the next day. As someone new to these traditions, I was eager to learn more about the festivities surrounding the celebration of Eid al-Fitr and the importance of gift giving, so I reached out to several members of Muslim families and communities who have trusted Elfster to help bring them together. They shared with me their own stories of how they are creating new traditions, not only through their activities in preparation for Eid, but by incorporating a Secret Santa style into their gift giving.
Creating New Eid Gift Giving Traditions
Salaam Bhatti | Richmond, Virginia
About a year ago, at the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic, Salaam Bhatti, a self-proclaimed Muslim millennial who does “not know how to code,” was seeking an online platform to help him exchange Eid gifts among his group of a dozen cousins who are spread out all over the United States. He reached out to Elfster to see how the platform could benefit his group and soon connected with Elfster Founder and CEO Peter Imburg to forge a friendship and become a trusted advisor.
In fact, Salaam recently joined Peter on the Elfster Podcast to discuss Elfster’s commitment and you can listen to their enlightening conversation here.
“It’s never been feasible to give a gift to everyone because it’s just too many people,” he says. “We want to give people something good rather than trinkets they may not use, so I thought, why not go all-in on one person and make it like a Secret Santa (without calling it Secret Santa). What was really great about it was that when we created the wishlists through Elfster, we were able to put in stuff about ourselves that we didn’t know about each other. We might have known each other since we were born, but there were aspects and interests we just didn’t know.”
Maheen N. | Sterling, Virginia
“Since we have a large family, we have adopted the ‘Secret Santa’ tradition, which we refer to as ‘Secret Eidi.’ We each are given one family member to purchase a gift for and we exchange together on Eid,” Maheen explains. “Eid is all about generosity! Before we adopted Secret Eidi, we would generally gift cash and now we give gifts depending on the person we are assigned!”
Making Eid Gift Giving Easier For Larger Communities
Suphia Dadabhoy | Arlington, Virginia
“DC is a very transient community, and as such, many folks who are celebrating Eid are doing so without their families, very different from what they have likely grown up with,” Suphia explains. “We like to create a space that is safe and welcoming for all to feel like they are at home with family.”
And how can her larger community benefit from using Elfster?
“What I love about using Elfster is users can have suggestions for what they might like and also set a budget so that it is accommodating for everyone involved. Elfster makes it SO much easier inviting folks to join in the fun, setting a budget, and choosing anonymously who gets who!” she says. “Additionally, the wishlist makes it SO much easier because you don’t always know the person whom you get paired to. I was able to give a friend a personalized journal and travel mug. I love to paint, so the best gift I received was art supplies.”
Aisha Daraja | Brooklyn, New York
“My Eid Gift Exchange was open to my Muslim family and friends, along with former coworkers,” explains Aisha, organizer of the Eid Giftar exchange (a play on the word ‘iftar’ or breaking of the fast). “It was open and we had over 34 participants with the majority having no idea who their recipient was.”
“Elfster made it seamless,” she adds. “The functionality to only see your recipient’s address helped [for a larger community], along with the ability to send friendly reminders in the app. Utilizing the wishlist feature is fun and helps when it comes to generating ideas or filling up the wishlist. Love that it also integrates well with Amazon.”
Reflecting on Past Traditions to Welcome the New
Fathema Sarkar | London, England
As Fathema reflects on her past traditions, she looks forward to creating new Eid ones. “When I was a kid, it was all about seeing family and friends, but now it’s about enjoying the entire process, including putting up Eid decorations, receiving and exchanging gifts with the entire family, all of which contribute to making the occasion more festive and memorable.”
“Elfster has made my life so much easier. When my family and I first played Secret Eid, we chose names from a hat for each individual. It was time consuming and fiddly. However, with the inclusion of the wishlist feature, this app made it easier and more available to everyone in my family. I love giving thoughtful and imaginative presents, and I hope that the person who has me thinks beyond the box and makes an effort to make it special,” she explains.
Shama Shaikh | Landover, Maryland
“Muslims celebrate Eid twice a year. Each Eid has its own significance, one is to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and the other is to celebrate the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca,” explains Shama, who has participated in Secret Eid gift exchange using Elfster for over a decade.
“The Elfster wishlist has helped us to spend less time shopping for multiple gifts and instead focusing our energy and time to praying, fasting, and worship,” she adds. “Each person creates a wishlist to give options to the gifted. After a few clicks the gift is ordered and on the way.”
Getting Started with Your Own Eid Gift Exchange
While Secret Santa style gift exchanges aren’t complicated, not everyone knows all the rules of Secret Santa. So make sure that people know the basics:
- Make your wishlist to give your giftee great ideas
- Draw names so that you have a giftee (and access to their wishlist)
- Get their gift!
- Exchange, and have the giftee try to guess who their Secret Santa is
Those are a few of the basics, but you can add whatever twist you’d like to make it personal, as these communities have done. Here are some more tips to get started on your Secret Santa.
However you celebrate Eid, we hope it is a time of joy and fellowship. That’s why starting an Eid gift exchange is a great way to be together, whether in person or virtually. During your reflection, you can think about what will make your giftee happiest. You can think about the laughter you will share during Eid. You can think about togetherness.
Eid Mubarak from Elfster!
How do you show people you love them on Eid al-Fitr? Tell us about your favorite gifts and memories on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, or on Instagram @Elfster. And, for an inspired Eid celebration, browse our Eid Gift Guides.
Top image courtesy of Suphia Dadabhoy