Almost everyone has participated in a “white elephant” gift exchange. Some people call variations of it “Secret Santa”, or “Yankee Swap”, but the overall concept is the same. Each person brings a gift, the gifts are placed in the middle or rotated in some fashion, and each person takes a turn picking the wrapped gift of their choice, not knowing what their gift could be. However, in this era of virtuality where your close network of friends and family live all over the world, figuring out how to divy up the gifts or get everyone in one location for such an exchange can be difficult. Perhaps your office all works from home, or you’re self employed. A client of mine, Albinophant, has built the perfect application for the holidays which helps you create white elephant gift exchanges virtually via just your Facebook profile.
The premise behind Albinophant is simple. All you need to do is create a party, invite your Facebook friends to attend the party, and schedule a date and time for the party to start. Your friends and family will get a Facebook invite and when they accept the invite they’ll have the opportunity to RSVP for the event. Once they RSVP they’ll be taken to a page of hundreds of gifts taken from Amazon.com, which they can select and purchase. The host can specify a maximum price range, and only the gifts that fit within that price range will show up for that particular party. This solves the problem of some people having that one really expensive gift that everyone wants. After selecting their gift, the user selects a virtual gift wrapping for that gift (the gifts are real, but the gift wrapping is just for the game to disguise what the gift is), with which the gift will be identified during the game.
Then, the party starts. When the time for the party starts, an e-mail gets sent to the first person who RSVP’d for the gift exchange. They click on a link, select one of the gift-wrapped gifts from the list of items, then their item is revealed, and both they and the rest of the participants are able to see what they selected. Once each person’s turn is over, the next person in line is sent an e-mail telling them it’s their turn, and they get to select a gift.
Here’s the catch though – the “Yankee Swap”, as Michael Scott from The Office puts it. Each player, on their turn, can “steal” a gift from any other player that has already unwrapped their gift. You can do so on each turn until all the gifts have been unwrapped. So even though you may think you have the coolest and most geeky gift, that gift could very well be stolen by any one of the other participants. This is part of the fun of the Albinophant Gift Exchange.
Once the party is over, everyone sees the gifts they’ve won. A message is also posted to Facebook notifying their friends of the gift they won so they can show it off and talk about it with all their Facebook friends. It’s a fun occasion for both that close circle invited to the party, as well as those that haven’t attended that can see what you won. In addition to winning virtually though, if the Host has opted, each participant will then be mailed the gift they selected (which someone else purchased), in real life. The party goes from virtual to real, and the relationships have just strengthened a bit more.
As you’re gearing up for the Holidays, consider giving Albinophant a try in to get in the spirit with your online friends. Go in and set up a party to try it out – use the offer code “1234” when creating a party and all the gifts your participants select will be virtual and free (meaning they won’t be sent a real gift but you can still have the party). Albinophant’s a fun app you can use throughout the entire year to build Holiday spirit regardless of boundary.
You can sign up to host your own party here:
Albinophant/PartyWeDo is a client of Stay N’ Alive Productions, LLC, my social technologies consulting company. If you are a blogger and you would like a free demo, or would like to host your own please let me know and I can arrange a tour for you and your friends/family.