Online anonymous random drawing.
April 29, 2013 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Can I draw names from a hat online, have each submission be unknown to the other participants in the drawing, and have the selection be emailed to all participants?

Each year we do a gift exchange in my family (see last year's.) We usually each write down an idea for a theme, and put it into a hat, and have someone draw out the theme.

This year we haven't done a good job getting everyone together in the same room to do this, so I though maybe doing this online would be an option.

The way I see it working is someone goes to a website, and enters in all the email addresses of the participants.

Each participant gets a message or can visit a link to the drawing and use their email address to enter a theme suggestion for the drawing.

Once all participants have submitted their suggestion, one of the items is picked and emailed to all participants, and is listed on the site.

I just haven't found any luck finding somewhere that does this. There are a bunch of sites dedicated to handling gift exchanges (or secret Santas or other variants) but I can't tell if any of them do this kind of theme selection.
posted by curse to Shopping (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Google "secret santa generator".
posted by rada at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2013

Response by poster: Google "secret santa generator".

This is not what I am looking for, unless there is a way to additionally randomly select a theme for the gift exchange from user submitted suggestions. We already use Elfster every year to match up participants.

What I need is a way to randomly select a theme for the exchange from a list of themes submitted by the gift exchange participants.
posted by curse at 10:55 AM on April 29, 2013

Maybe I'm missing something, because this really sounds like over-engineering. Why can't you just have the "someone" who has all the email addresses send out a request for themes, then do the physical pick-out-of-a-hat thing from the replies, and finally follow-up with emailing everybody the winning theme?
posted by 0 at 10:58 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Agreed with 0, it sounds like you're making this a little harder on yourself than you need to. If you don't want to physically print anything out and pick from a hat, or if you don't want to see anybody's ideas before anything is picked, maybe you could do something with a random number generator? Just number each response that comes in without opening the email to see anybody's theme idea, then hit up that random number generator to pick for you - whoever's number comes up is the one whose email you go open to find out the theme of the year.
posted by DingoMutt at 11:52 AM on April 29, 2013

Sometimes there's confirmatory value in having a couple people say, "Nope, I've never seen that and don't think it exists," so I'll chime in as well. I'm familiar with Elfster and similar sites. I'm also familiar with randomizers that allow you to type a list into a field, using commas to separate items, and generate a list in random order. You could use that and choose whatever theme ends up in the top slot.

If I'm understanding, the big difference is that what you're looking for would be operable by a group of people instead of just one. You want a tool that allows individuals to contribute separately to a combined data set, then makes a selection and notifies everybody. It's entirely possible that this exists, but I'm not familiar with it. It might be a reasonably simple thing to code: If you're willing to spend a few bucks, you could post the idea to Jobs and maybe somebody would help you set it up. You might also email/tweet the folks at a site like Elfster and see if it's something they might have heard of. If they can't refer you somewhere, then who knows, maybe they'll like the idea and build it into their site.
posted by cribcage at 11:54 AM on April 29, 2013

Response by poster: Yeah, I think we just wanted something basically anonymous to avoid the "blame game" when people complain about the hardness, easiness, etc for the theme.

I think what I will do is have everyone email their theme suggestion to a disinterested third party and have them pick for us.
posted by curse at 12:01 PM on April 29, 2013

I looked for such a thing once and didn't find it.

What I did was have everyone email a third party. Numbers 1-XX were assigned by order of message receipt (without opening them). People were told to act fast because only the first XX emails would be eligible.

That list of 1-XX by name was then shared with the group. The next Lotto Powerball acted as our random number generator to pick from the virtual hat. So everyone knew that when 17 (or whatever) popped up, that meant [name] was the "winner".

People generally trust the Lotto. Maybe that helps?
posted by 99percentfake at 4:53 PM on April 29, 2013 will do this for you.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 5:32 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

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