About: SecretSanta/PollyAnna

Secret Santa / Pollyanna

INTRODUCTIONThis is the somewhat-random “Secret Santa” or “Polyanna” pool that has become
rather popular around the holidays in computerized form!

It is known as either “Secret Santa” or as a “Polyanna”, and, in some cases (Such as in Australia, as I have been told), it is also known as “Kris Kringle”. I first came to know it under the PollyAnna name, and then heard it as “Secret Santa”, which seems to be more common (around here) as it is a bit more generic, and better descriptive.

Anyhow, regardless of the name, it is a way for groups of people to organize the buying of gifts for one another without having to incur the massive expense of buying gifts for EVERYONE in the group.� The goal is :

  • Reduce the expense for having to buy gifts for each person to buy a gift for every other person in the group.� In come cases, the expense can be large because of the size of the group.� Hey, we are not all made of money!
  • Eliminate the possibility of people being forced to buy trivial gifts for everyone in the group.� While it is nice to buy gifts for everyone, it just isn’t practical money-wise in some cases.� So, folks have tried to bring down the expense by buying $5 gifts for each person.� While the thought is there, what can you REALLY get for $5 that the person will want?� Talk about stress and guilt!
  • Allow each person to psuedo-randomly pick the name of another person in the group to which they will buy a gift for.� This results in EVERY person getting a single gift, no two people get gifts from the same person, no one person
    � has to buy more than one gift, and that one gift can be of larger value.� Of course, the value usually is determined by everyone BEFORE things start, similar to “Ok, everyone.� This year, the dollar limit on gifts is $50.”

Well, prior to this web interface, the way it would usually work would be:

  • Get everyone together, physically.
  • Have everyone’s name in a hat.
  • Have each person pick ONE name from the hat.� If the person picks their spouse, signifigant other, etc. they put that name back in the hat and� pick a new name (under the assumption that they would be buying them a gift outside of the Secret Santa anyhow) until they found one.

The problems are that, in many cases, it is difficult to get everyone together PRIOR to the holidays when families or groups of friends are spread out.� On top of that, it can be a royal pain in the rear when you keep picking from a hat and keep getting a spouse or the same person you had last year.

  • The program take away all of the problems and just leaves you with the FUN of having a successful “Secret Santa” or “Polyanna”.
  • It can keep track of “Relationships”, which are considered invalid picks, so it will never pick your spouse for you.
  • It handles all of the randomness of the picks, as well as understanding when the picks are SO limited that no good set of random picks can be made.
  • And, finally, it is web-based, so it can be set up prior to the holidays, and people in the group can get to it at their leisure. The web interface is so simple and straight forward, even your mother could use it without having to call you to ask for instructions.

Please check out the forum for help or further information. Patches and additions (web enhancements, too!) as always welcome.