Secret Santa is a fun Christmas tradition in which a group of people are each assigned a group member to get a gift for. It’s popular in offices and various kinds of social groups, but lately there has been a trend towards Secret Santa groups that are organized through the internet. Reddit, for example, has a very popular Secret Santa group that any user can join. This year, a handful of the top makers on YouTube decided to set up their own Secret Santa and now they’re showing off what they have made.
Furze was chosen to build a present for Estefannie of the Estefannie Explains It All YouTube channel. With a little bit of research, Furze found out that Estefannie likes cats. So, naturally, he decided to build an insane automatic cat feeder. The CAT-O-MATIC is much more substantial than the automatic pet feeders that you can find at your local big box store. It was made from machined and welded steel, and has a massive motor that spins spoons to fling food at the cat at very high speed. This, of course, simply terrifies the poor cat. The solution was to make the whole thing remote-controlled, so it could fling food into a bowl when the cat isn’t around.
Estefannie’s gift recipients were Ruth and Sean from Kids Invent Stuff. Like most others in this field, Kids Invent Stuff has an Instagram account to show off projects. Estefannie decided to build a tracker that lights up whenever one of their posts is liked. The centerpiece is a handmade, freeform lightbulb made from LEDs and brass wire. Inside the enclosure is a Raspberry Pi that checks their Instagram feed and flashes the light when a post receives a new like. It can also operate like a normal lamp in order to avoid sending too many requests to the Instagram API.
Sam Battle of LOOK MUM NO COMPUTER is known for music-centric projects, and so Ruth and Sean decided to make some sneakers that were inspired by the iconic electronic music duo Daft Punk. If you are at all familiar with Daft Punk, you know that these sneakers needed three things: lights, sounds, and shininess. They started with a pair of metallic shoes that already have LEDs embedded in the soles, and then added the music. One shoe plays a backing track when Battle steps down, while the other cycles through the robot-voiced lyrics of Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger each time he taps his foot.
A while back, Battle built a project that required a number of Furby innards and ended up with quite a lot of leftover Furby skin. He decided to turn that into a — frankly horrifying — Hydra-esque Furby abomination for the Hacksmith, AKA James Hobson. Unlike the other projects, this one doesn’t possess any electronic components. Battle simply sewed the skins together to form a sort of three-headed Furby snake stuffed animal that will likely haunt Hobson's nightmares.
The infamous “red phone” that directly linked the Pentagon to the Kremlin during the Cold War was the inspiration for this build. Instead of connecting world nuclear superpowers, it lets Hobson and Allen Pan of Sufficiently Advanced contact each other directly. Hobson started with a regular old red telephone and attached an actual smartphone to it. That had a new operating system installed as well as a custom interface. The handset was then connected to the smartphone. This was so much fun that Hobson ended up building a red phone for all the makers who participated in this Secret Santa.
For this project, Pan turned to his own childhood for the inspiration for Furze's gift. While looking through old drawings of his, he found what appeared to be an idea for a deployable swing set. The drawing seemed to indicate that it should have rocket hands to grip tree branches, but Pan went with a slightly more practical solution and used CO2-powered launchers to shoot grappling hooks. Those have ropes which attach to the swing set’s seat through manually-operated winches. The user — Furze — just needs to find a suitable tree, aim the grappling hooks, fire, and then swing in bliss.
Each maker has included their reactions to their gifts at the end of their respective videos, so be sure to watch until the end in order to see those. Everyone was thrilled with the gifts they received, and we imagine that this will put every office holiday party's Secret Santa exchange to shame.