Secret Santa Gift Exchanges

It’s that time of year again that everybody loves! Everybody that is, except for Akshay “The Grinch” Shaw, who ostensibly didn’t like Christmas music in November (He also wrote this excellent piece on social media engagement during the holiday season).

A common dilemma that plagues me and causes me to lose sleep is one in which I’m elected as a third party to mediate a gift exchange.  When a group of people can’t physically be together to draw names from a hat, someone outside the group must assign the names and notify the respective individuals of who their recipient should be.

However, like missile defense systems and mapping the human genome, this is a job that seems better suited to a computer.  This year my wife asked me if I could put together a simple program for her side of the family to do just this task, and as such I’ve put together a very simple Django application at http://app.scottlobdell.me/secret_santa that does the trick.  I didn’t take the time to add finishing touches like input validation and awesome CSS, but I think if we all take a little bit of responsibility for making this work then it’s a decent solution.

I’ve put the code for the basic process on Github here.

Note that this also prevents people from receiving their own name as their gift recipient.  I had to guard against this case because apparently my father-in-law drew his own name in the past, but he told no one and was completely content on Christmas day.  This apparently ruined Christmas.