After a few years of neglect I decided it was about time I gave my ageing PHP Secret Santa App a bit of an update.
The original, having been the result of a spur of the moment, hacked together reaction to the idea of running a CS Secret Santa between my friends (way back when in my second year of UNI), was as you may have guessed a pretty crappy implementation. The code was awful and the word awful just doesn’t capture just how bad the UI really was. Despite this, I’ve still somehow ended up running the script almost every time Christmas rolls come around.
My newer version of the script functions, effectively, the same as my original. Rather than taking the more common approach of putting the names in to two arrays, shuffling one, then joining em back together until no one ends up with themselves, I decided to stick with my original “names in a hat” style algorithm. Mostly just for nostalgia value. The implementation effectively mirrors its real world equivalent, with each user taking their turn to grab a value from the “hat” (array of users who need gifts buying from them) and putting it back and taking another if they happen to get themselves. This continues until every user has someone to buy for. The one flaw with this plan is that when the final person comes to pick, if it so happens that the only person left in the “hat” is themselves, there a little stuck. My solution to this problem was essentially just to make them swap with another user. Which so far has worked pretty well 🙂
Once everyone has been assigned someone to buy for, the next step is just email everyone telling them who they have. It may not be the shortest, simplest or most straight forward solution, but I quite like it either way.
Please feel free to ask questions, point out bugs/flaws or even just use the script for your own Secret Santa’s.