New Project: The Gift List

My family has many traditions around Christmas time and with the anticipated expansion my youngest brother and my getting married will cause we are seeing more traditions emerge. One of these involves the increasing number of people that we buy gifts for which has caused the present system to become untenable.

By our tradition, each family member releases a Christmas list of sorts just before Thanksgiving enabling other family members to purchase gifts for that person for Christmas. Traditionally, we have used email and its a nightmare as I, for example, have to buy for over 10 people. For someone like me who is used to a lot of email its not a huge deal but the rest of my family is not me and its not uncommon for people to get emails from others detailing their buying plans. So I thought, what can I do?

The idea has been germinating for quite a few years and, I realize, there is probably something like this already out there, but I wanted to build something if only to keep my web backend skills sharp and play with new technologies. The idea is The Gift List.

The essence of the Gift List is simple. As a user you create a list and add items to it. You can invite others to view the list and they can indicate their buying plans for individual items or add items they are buying to prevent duplication. Now, you may be thinking, “well if I can see what others are getting, what is the point?” And that is where the kicker comes in.

You see, when you create a list as the Owner, you can see the items that you added, but never their status. When you create the list as an associated user you can see everything and do everything. In this way, only the people not you can see what is being bought. Now, you could still be a dick and invite yourself to your own list and see everything but, there really is no way to prevent that and the positives that will come of not having this in email, in my mind, outweigh that drawback.

Currently, I am just about done with the API, working through the invite process. I hope to deploy some time before February and start working on a simple mobile app that can be used. If it all goes well, we should be able to use it for my Father’s Birthday in April as a sort of dry run. My other hope is that I can convince my middle brother Sean Farrell ( to get engaged as a designer and maybe, sometime next year, well make this a polished app with Facebook integration. For right now though, its just about getting something out the door.


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