What if you could get your friends and family the perfect gift every time?
Mary Murphy came up with the idea for Little Birdie Me when she saw a man buying flowers for his partner but had no idea what type of flowers she liked.
“I thought, ‘What if there was a site where instead of just listing things that people wanted, there was a site where people could actually communicate their preferences for things?’ For example, ‘I love roses, I don’t like carnations,’ or ‘I’m allergic to flowers, but I really love chocolates,'” Murphy says.
Little Birdie Me—inspired by the winking phrase “a little birdie told me”—is an umbrella site where a person can explain all of their gift-related preferences. What’s your friend’s ring size? Does your coworker prefer to read books electronically or in print? What’s your niece’s favorite color? Does your partner already own the album you’re thinking of giving them?
“It’s designed to be, at heart, a communication tool, to improve communication about gifting, to avoid disappointment but also to eliminate inefficiency and waste—there’s less returns involved if you know exactly the size that somebody wears,” Murphy says.
Murphy, a Cambridge resident, looked to the Harvard Extension School for coding classes so she could make her vision a reality. She built much of the website in the city’s public libraries. The site launched earlier this year and is free to use.
The site gives a user the option to link existing registries, but is meant to be more of a holistic guide to coming up with the perfect gift than a list of specific wish items. Little Birdie Me functions like Facebook in that you can “friend” other users and adjust your privacy settings—for example, you can make your underwear preferences visible only to your partner or your clothing sizes only available for your mom.
Couples can give the site permission to automatically generate a page that’s a combination of their interests. Two of Murphy’s friends didn’t even realize that they both wanted a hammock until they received one off a recommendation from their couples’ page, she says.
The site also has tools to help you manage your long-term gifting, like budgeting tools for big gift-giving times of the year like the holidays and a way to keep track of gifts you’ve given people in the past.
Murphy added a nod to shopping local by giving users opportunities to list their favorite local stores.
“Having worked for small shops, I know what it means to have the support of your community,” Murphy says. “My hope is that it brings attention to businesses that might otherwise get lost perhaps in the online shopping frenzy.”