The pandemic is crushing yet another holiday staple: the office Secret Santa. So Pentagram came up with a clever alternative. Added bonus: It ensures that you will absolutely not get another crappy “World’s Best Boss” mug.
Pentagram partner Naresh Ramchandani and his team out of Pentagram’s London office have launched Ungifted, a free platform you and your team can sign up for to gift each other various acts of care rather than unwanted junk. Once your team signs up, you’ll be matched with a surprise recipient and able to choose a zero-waste gift to send and write a message. Set a date, and all is revealed with a shared-screen slideshow and video share.
Part of the goal was to make the secret Santa tradition more sustainable for the planet, by offering a variety of thoughtful experiences to gift colleagues, as curated by you. (Americans produce about 25% more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than at any other time during the year, according to Stanford.) Ungifted gifts are like thoughtful services rather than purchases—and they’re socially distanced, too. For instance, rather than buy a pair of socks on Amazon, you can curate a Spotify playlist; send motivational memes for a month; watch and review movies on behalf of friends; schedule coffee-based (virtual) chats, and more based on what you choose to gift. What’s more 2020 than gifting emotional support texts?
Ramchandani and his team developed the Ungifted platform in 2019 in what was essentially a large-scale test, he says. Ungifted emerged as a project to explore making the holidays more sustainable from Do the Green Thing, an initiative Ramchandani cofounded in 2007, which uses creativity to combat climate change. Pentagram worked on the site with digital agency Phantom, which is rife with saturated animations, and brand consultancy Eat Big Fish on strategy. The site mimics the experience of online shopping, so you scroll through to find a colleague’s surprise gift just like you would a product. “We wanted to make these surprises feel as tangible and tempting as clicking that button on Amazon,” says Ramchandani.
Even though they developed the tool last year, it’s especially useful this year, at a time when we might feel isolated and want to build a connection with remote colleagues. “The idea of doing [Secret Santa] at work is to get to know some of your colleagues a bit better,” he says. “So rather than pressing ‘Buy’ on something on Amazon, actually thinking about what it really would be that would give their day some joy and making that happen through a platform like Ungifted, I think that’s truer to the Secret Santa spirit anyway.”