Playing Secret Santa with Wichtel Challenge

“ helps us present the Wichtel Challenge to the people who attend our events.”

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The Wichtel Challenge team posing with a bunch of elf hats.

“Wichteln” is the German-language version of Secret Santa (the word “Wichtel” itself means “elf”). The Wichtel Challenge is a project by an Austrian NGO that aims to fulfil the Christmas wishes of children and families in need.

They collect these wishes via various welfare organisations and institutions and distribute them on Individuals and companies can then “claim” these wishes on the website and go about fulfilling them.

The Wichtel Challenge first took place in 2017 and has grown steadily since then, from 150 wishes in its first year to 800 already in year two. While it started in Austria’s capital Vienna, it expanded into other Austrian cities and even into Germany, Switzerland and further in its third year.  

Since 2019, the team takes part in the Wichtel Challenge and sponsors the initiative with a social wall.

Interview with the co-founder of the Wichtel Challenge

We did a quick interview with Wichtel Challenge co-founder Christian Heiling about how Wichtel Challenge uses the social wall.

Christian Heiling

Christian Heiling

Co-founder, Wichtel Challenge

How has your social wall helped you make your project Wichtel Challenge even better?

We use on our website because we want to present our users with new content every time they visit our page. Additionally, we also use the social wall at events. helps us present the Wichtel Challenge to the people who are attending our events.

You embedded your social feed on your website using the widget. How did you find the set-up process?

It works out of the box. It’s only one script that you embed. Then you just make some configurations for the feeds you want to integrate on your website, and it’s already running. So, for example, you can use an Instagram hashtag or your Facebook page as sources, and you’ll see all your feeds directly on the website. You also have the possibility to filter, so you don’t have to use every post on your social wall.

What kind of content did you want to see on your social wall?

Usually, for events, we prefer images and videos. For the homepage itself, we mix it up with textual content, because people have more time to read and can get more information. At events, it’s important to get a first impression, so we use the wall as a standalone product.

How did you motivate people to post?

Last year, for example, we had a hashtag campaign on Instagram. It was the hashtag #Wichtelchallenge. We also had a stall at Vienna Prater directly in front of the giant Ferris wheel, where we set up a photo booth so people could take a photo with the hashtag. And then their pictures were presented on TV. That way everybody can show their friends:  “Hey! I was there, at the Wichtel Challenge stall!”

Wichtel Challenge stall at Vienna Prater with the social wall shown on a screen in the booth.
The Wichtel Challenge stall with its social wall showing on a screen at the Vienna Prater

Now that you have some experience with social walls, what are you planning to do differently in the future?

I think last year we were really concentrating on creating the process of the Wichtel Challenge. And this year, the goal is to have a nice look and feel. And this should be possible with & the Wichtel Challenge 2019

The entire team got involved in the 2019 Wichtel challenge. They scanned the wishes, bought the presents, wrapped them with care and delivered them in person to the families living at the Obdach Handleskai – an organisation that helps refugee families navigate life in Austria.

Wallsio & Wichtel Challenge 2020

The Wichtel Challenge didn’t let the Coronavirus pandemic put a damper on last year’s Secret Santa gift-giving. The presents were either sent via post or safely handed over to the welfare organisations that organise the wishes and distribute the presents.

And, fortunately, the pandemic didn’t seem to be keeping people from wanting to help out either. Six Austrian counties took part in the initiative, with hundreds of wishes collected on the website.

The team, once more, took part in the challenge and prepared some presents. We did it at a distance, but with no less heart than in the previous year. 💝

The team safely wrapping presents for the Wichtel Challenge 2020
Our dear Kerstin even prepared handwritten notes for everyone

In 2020 Wichtel Challenge set up their social wall again and embedded it on the website.

Social media section on the Wichtel Challenge website with the social wall embedded.
The social wall embedded on the Wichtel Challenge website & the Wichtel Challenge 2021

As it has become a tradition by now, we couldn’t miss taking part in the Wichtel Challenge 2021. This year, the preparations happened online, as we were all in lockdown. So, we swapped the gift boxes for store vouchers and the wrapping paper for postal stamps.

We decided to focus on vouchers only because of logistic reasons during the lockdown. These were then sent to the organisations orchestrating the gifts, and they will make sure to give the coupons to the people that wished them.

The chatbot mascot Walter presenting the team. The team's pictures are hanging from a blue Christmas tree.

It’s not too late to become Secret Santa for someone: