The Interactive Advent Calendar

When I was editor of the online business magazine Unlimited, we wanted to do a gift guide in our December 2009 issue. The catch: it had to be relevant for our gen Y business audience. The other catch: it couldn’t be your usual list of throwaway products — it had to have advice and ideas, along with cool things like a chocolate pie chart. Then there was the challenge of making the story timely, but evergreen (in other words, no Christmas trees.) Associate publisher Joyce Byrne suggested an advent calendar. One you can click on. One that keeps on giving. The solution was to create a calendar with a new goodie from December 1 to 24, keeping readers coming back to the website every day to open a new box. Then we spent a few weeks figuring out how the heck to do that.

I developed the story, while designer Steph Chan created the corkboard and web technician Gunnar Blodgett figured out how to program it in the digital realm. We knocked on colleagues’ doors for knick-knacks — if you scroll over the objects, whether it’s a Mountie key chain or an old photo, you’ll get the story behind the story — and photographed the image below at our office. On December 25, we archived the entire list so we could keep on giving all year long. Click the image below to try out the interactive result. And click here to read more about Mounties.