We Used a Chatbot to Organize Last-Minute Secret Santa!

Barbora Jassova
Editorial Manager, Landbot
Illustrator: Jana Pérez
secret santa chatbot
close button bot

It’s that jolly time of year when Christmas carols explore the limits of your patience and wearing 3-D sweater designs incorporating fairy lights is perfectly acceptable.

Santa Sweater

All of this commotion happens in anticipation of holly & magical event, widely portrayed and merrily recounted in cinema and other popular media… the office Christmas party!

Just kidding 😂

Since a huge part of Christmas entails receiving presents from a mysterious stranger, we decided to honor the trend and spice up December’s landbotty workload with Secret Santa.

Nice thought. But who has the time to inquire and organize?Not us… you guys keep us busy enough 🙄😄.

Soooooo...HO, HO, HO, HOW did we do it?

Quite simply, using the magnificent chatbot builder we spend our days nurturing, pampering, improving and marketing to you.

Short Guide to Office Secret Santa (For 99% of Employee Base)

Step 1: Propose Secret Santa.

Step 2: If no one volunteers, passively-aggressively pressure a susceptible member of the team to take charge.

Step 3: Go back to work and wait to be contacted (act surprised and pleased).

Long Guide to Office Secret Santa (For the Volunteer or the One Who Caved to Peer Pressure)

OK. Now, in all seriousness…This is how we (“we” = one person) created the ultimate last-minute Secret Santa bot!

Pssst... if you want to build along with the tutorial, create your Landbot account for free and get to it!

1. Create Personalized Flow

The one huge benefit of using a bot to communicate which we never get tired of mentioning is its wonderful potential for personalization. There are two ways to about it:

  • Give the bot a personality
  • Create a personalized experience for the user (in this case individual team members or a specific team)

2. Install WhatsApp Optin (Or Stick to the Web… But We Didn’t... Because WhatsApp Rocks🤘)

Our bot already asked Secret Santa victims for their names in the personalization phase so, now would be the time to ask for an email… However, it’s Christmas. We wanted to get all fancy and show off a little, so we decided to use WhatsApp.

To do that, even if just for internal purposes, we needed to implement an official WhatsApp Opt-in. Since this process is a bit more complex, one of the pre-built Opt-In Workaround Brick:

Click on the brick to get inside and edit it. For this little miracle block to work, all you need to do is remove the sample code in the first “SET VARIABLE” block and paste your own snippet code.


You can retrieve the code from your WhatsApp Business Channel after you set up (or open to edit an existing) opt-in snippet.


This way, you can customize the opt-in prompt directly in the bot:


The phone verification webhook was also already built-in inside the brick as well!That’s useful! You know... just in case somebody wants to get out of their Secret Santa responsibilities and blame it on a typo 🤨!

3. Store Info a Secure Database

After we got the WhatsApp opt-in all up and running it was time to store the participants’ data in a safe secret location.

Because the true beauty of Landbot is in its simplicity, we set up a simple Google Sheet integration and stored the names and corresponding phone numbers of the participants in a good old spreadsheet.


Adding a simple conversational wrap-up, the Secret Santa bot was ready to mingle.And so, it’s URL has been shared with all Landbotters...

4. Wait for Everyone to Sign Up

Waiting Secret Santa Landbot

5. Do Some Secret Santa Tinkering

Little by little the rows on the spreadsheet filled in with Landbotters.

Once everybody was on the list, the designated brain behind the Christmassy operation accessed the mysterious spreadsheet and created a third column:

Please note ☝️This is just an illustrative image. I was not trustworthy enough to be given access to the real thing. 😬

The trick behind this elaborate charade?Copy-pasting participant’s names into the new column and:

  • Either using the “randomize range” spreadsheet function to mix things up
  • Or pasting all names one row below and moving the last name on the list to the first position.

Now, there are a number of clever sophisticated ways to go about this like using conditional logic and variables. But why bother, if the most obvious solution is faster and more efficient?

Remember? Landbot universe all about simplicity.

6. Run an Internal WhatsApp Campaign to Let Your Colleagues Find Out Their Fate

After all the necessary tinkering was over, it was time to launch a WhatsApp campaign targeting Landbotters who signed up for Secret Santa only. It sounds quite impressive but it wasn’t a big deal.

Setting up a campaign in the Business manager is easier than creating a Facebook profile. You simply:

  • Pick the people
  • Pick the WhatsApp template message
  • Pick a bot to follow the user response

Ufff… I forgot to show you the WhatsApp bot! Once again, it was a very straightforward affair. Here, have a look:


Though, if you are not familiar with WhatsApp (Land)bots, you might be surprised to see the flow kicks off with a variable.

The reason?

The true “welcome” message, in this case, was the HSM template. Hence, the flow with the “SET VARIABLE” block where the @init variable represents user response.


This way, when our participants did respond to the template, the bot compared their response to the keywords defined in the “KEYWORD JUMP” block.

Whether our participants played by the book or tried to best our Secret Santa bot with nonsense responses… it was ready to complete its mission no matter what:


To actually check who got whom, we once again resorted to Google Sheet integration but this time setting it up to retrieve not send the information.


The final Landbot Secret Santa Experience user experience looked like this:


So, if you haven’t done a Secret Santa yet this year, with Landbot you still have time to do it in style!

We wish you a very merry Christmas, may you be as content as a cat on a Roomba.

Cat in a Roomba

And remember… keep it simple!

Posted on
December 12, 2019
Want to write for us? Check our guidelines
landbot logo white
linkedin logoinstagram logo
Copyright © 2021 HELLO UMI S.L.