So, for example, if a gift recipient lists “bike,” her group can drill down together, picking each other’s brains on color and style, Jessup said.
“A lot of other sites are focused on just pulling off of a list,” she said. “We found among our own experiences and talking to other people there’s definitely a group that wants to contribute their own ideas and personal touches to a gift. When people get back to that surprise, they realize what they’ve missed.”
At CheckedTwice.com, giftees can create groups and share lists in one place. It allows for “secret gifts” to be added to lists by anybody in the group, hidden from the view of the list-maker but visible to everybody else. There’s a comment area as well.
“You still get the thrill of surprise when you rip into the wrapping paper,” said co-founder Andrew Swick, who recalled a particularly vexing Christmas for one loved one in 2002.
That’s when his sister and site co-founder, Rebecca, unwrapped three identical volumes of Robert Frost poems she had coveted. The sentiment was in the right place — and then some.
“She had emailed out a wish list of ideas that people could get her,” he said. “Then she came up with this idea. It was really designed to organize and stop that duplicate gift problem without ruining the surprise.”
Attorney Dave Howard in Round Rock, Texas, uses the site with his wife, daughter, his daughter’s boyfriend and his 22-year-old granddaughter. For years they kept their lists on a piece of paper, stuck to the refrigerator. It was inefficient as family members grew and flew the coop and led sometimes to duplicate gifts.
“Now, we can share our ideas of surprise gifts with one another,” he said. “They can’t see the things that are secret.”