2021 Holiday Design Challenge: Gift Exchange App

In the spirit of the holiday season, we asked our community to design a gift exchange app. This idea was entirely up to interpretation—it could be as simple as…

Team Designlab
Team Designlab
Dec 27, 2021
Min Read

In the spirit of the holiday season, we asked our community to design a gift exchange app. This idea was entirely up to interpretation—it could be as simple as creating wishlists, or as complex as gamification! We also decided to introduce group work with into our design challenges to promote coworking and collaboration.

Holiday Design Challenge Guidelines

  • Team Size: 2-4
  • Device: Mobile
  • Final deliverable: 3-5 key screens that showcase your group’s app

The most highly-voted submission received holiday edition Designlab t-shirts!

Here are the top submissions for this challenge as determined by the Designlab internal team and community voting…

Winner 🥇

Knick Knack

Komal Srivastava (Ono cohort), Tiffany Tseng (Ono cohort), Yuk Man Chan (UX Academy Foundations), Lydia Sun (Mellier cohort)

Design Challenge Submission 15

With Knick Knack, your gift exchange events will be more fun and festive with friends and family. 

Isn't the usual gift exchange boring? With Knick Knack, you can choose from a variety of gift exchange games. Search with specific keywords, filter with tags, or simply browse the list of games to your heart’s content. 

Can’t remember when Christmas is? That's okay, the event page has you covered and reminds you to prepare your gift! The event page is presented in a customized themed count-down visual, with event details. To enhance interaction, a present with your name tag will be shown after clicking the 'Gift-sorted Button' when you have your present ready.

Forget to prepare props for the gift exchange? Easy, you can just select from our vast variety of in-app games during your party. Take the game ‘Roll a Dice’ for instance; the dice on the screen can be thrown with a simple tap and we provide simple instructions to what each roll represents. Tap to find out whether you are keeping, trading, or unwrapping the gift!

Don't really know this person? No problem! The profile page provides details and preferences of the user and there are gift guides that provide recommendations based on their preferences.

Vote and manifest the gift you want! Wish you a lovely Christmas.

Runners-Up 🏃‍♀️


Kailey Li (Ishioka cohort), Mwika Kankwenda (Ishioka cohort), Nicole Ha (Ishioka cohort), Daniela Montanez (Ishioka cohort)

Design Challenge Submission 13

Gift-A-Gift is an app for users that want to participate in a gift exchange with another user, regardless if the receiver is a family member, a friend, or even a new friend from anywhere in the world. The purpose of the app is to provide a platform to send or/and receive gifts more easily, like Santa’s little helper. The app essentially connects users to family, friends, or someone else in the world through the gift of giving.

How it works? The sender can choose between friends/family or a new friend to give a gift to. 

After the sender chooses a recipient, they will fill out a form with their preferences regarding the gift they want to send and how they want to send it (for example location, budget, if it’s physical or a gift card…)

They will then be paired with a potential recipient that has matching preferences. From there, the sender can choose a gift from the potential recipient’s wishlist, proceed to purchase, and send it (the address of the recipient would be hidden to protect their privacy).

In their profiles, users can track the gift they either sent or received.


Chris Xenophontos (Aicher cohort), Denise Macalino (Aicher cohort), Lilly King (Aicher cohort), Tiffany Li (Aicher cohort)

Design Challenge Submission 1

Wrapped is a mobile app that personalizes gift exchanges while maintaining surprise. 

With Wrapped, a gift giver will learn more about their gift receiver's tastes and have plenty of information to come up with a great gift idea. 

However, what sets Wrapped apart from other apps is its personalized gift suggestions based on the receiver's profile. It makes getting the perfect gift simple! (But if the giver still wants more information, they can anonymously ask the gift receiver questions.)

By preserving anonymity and tailoring browsing to recipients' tastes, Wrapped removes some of the stress associated with gift giving. Instead the app replaces it with fun... and confetti!

White Elephant

Skylar Denney (Ono cohort), Camille Carandang (Ono cohort), Arilene Romero-Aleman (Ono cohort), Milena Bjelosevic (Mellier cohort)

Design Challenge Submission 9

With COVID still hindering holiday get togethers, we decided to create an app that would allow friends and family to continue hosting white elephant gift exchange games (a.k.a. Yankee Swap or Dirty Santa) without having to meet in person.

After doing competitive research and interviews with users of similar apps, we found the two major problems we wanted to tackle were: 
1. A lack of quality gifts available in existing apps.
2. Limited interaction amongst users while playing the game.

Our solution is the White Elephant app. In this limited representation of the application, we’ve focused on the:
1.  Home Page: Users can create a game or join a game that their friend, family member, or co-worker has created. 
2. Game Creation Page: Users can create a name, date, time, occasion, and rules for their game.
3. Store Page: Once a game is created, players who have been invited have the ability to purchase gifts for the game all within the app.
4. Game Rules Page: When the game starts, users will be provided with a breakdown of how the game is played.
5. Game Play Page: While users are actually playing the game, they have their friends’ video streams available at the top, the available gifts in the center, and a breakdown of game play, comments, and reactions at the bottom. 

Thanks for checking out White Elephant!


Stephanie Chang (Chwast cohort), Dana Sadowski (Yrsa cohort)

Design Challenge Submission 8

Whiskerlist is a gift exchange app which helps animal lovers, caretakers, and protection agencies provide for the animals that they admire or take care of. Similar to a dating app, users can sift through the profiles of various animals and decide whether or not they are interested in helping said critter fulfill a wish.

Wishes don't have to be physical. They can be homemade crafts, composed music, or noodle art. To reward users for their kindness, gifting can sometimes unlock exclusive badges. You don't have to own an animal to use the app. It's perfectly fine to just help others without receiving gifts in return.

Because the main focus of the app is the animals, users cannot explicitly search for or see other user accounts. They are, however, given relevant details (e.g body dimensions for clothing) once they've committed to a wish; and are granted the ability to chat with the owner if they need further clarification about a request. Security measures include a cap on how many active wishes a user can list, and a ban on direct cash exchanges to prevent malicious users from using the platform for profit or money laundering.

Once a gift has been sent, a user can view a record of the exchange in their profile. Users can also send thank you messages for any gifts that they receive.

To learn UX design through an education provider that emphasizes the importance of community through fun events like these design challenges, we encourage you to explore our UX Academy program.

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Launch a career in ux design with our top-rated program

Top Designers Use Data.

Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.