Splitting the Cost of Mother's Day

When a young Claremont McKenna College scholar finds himself swamped with final papers and exams, it can be easy to forget the little things - like showering or changing out of his pajamas.  But, my dear CMCers, there is one thing coming up before finals that we all must remember. Drill this into your brain: this Sunday is Mother's Day.

(Yes, I bolded that for a reason. Don't mess this one up.)

So how are you planning on spoiling your mother? If you are like me, you already pulled the 1-800-Flowers.com trick freshman year. Besides, while flowers are a pretty expression of a child's affection, they are not exactly pragmatic.  Pastel roses, unlike my love for my Mother, wilt and fade within days, crumbling into the muddy water of their own vase.

I considered sending her an eCard, but my mother is getting too tech saavy to find kistchy animated cats endearing.  After all, she just figured out Facebook mobile uploads.

Unfortunately, to procure a suitable alternative gift, I need the help of my family from afar.  Now, I find myself three-thousand miles away from my little brother, and trying to micromanage my Mother's special day via text message. Gift-splitting may be practical for college-aged siblings with limited budgets, but cross-country coordination can be difficult.

What's a kid to do?

Enter Splittr.

Splittr, the joint brain-child of CMC Alum Erik Hansell '09 and current senior Eric Scott, is a online gift-giving platform which allows users to contribute to gifts over the internet.   Splittr is a place where relatives and friends alike can pool together their money and - well - split the cost of gift, instead of each just sending a Hallmark card with cash.

How does Splittr work?  First, a user decides what they want.  For instance, say I want a new laptop for my birthday.  I choose the computer I want and add it to my Splittr account.  I am then provided with a link to send to my family and friends, who can each chip-in a small amount.  When the target amount is reached, Splittr ships the laptop to my house.  (If not enough funds are secured to make the purchase by my big day, Splittr sends me an Amazon gift card with the amount I acquired.)


Some might believe that Splittr undermines the art of gift giving.  The social norms surrounding the giving and receiving of holiday presents seem deeply ingrained into our society.  Having one pick out their own gifts feels strange.  It seems to violate the unwritten constitution of gift-giving.

"Social conventions have already changed because of social media,"  CEO Eric Scott argues.  "With Splittr, we're just trying to harness those social conventions. For instance - the 'Happy Birthday' Facebook Wall post.  You could say it's ruined social interactions, but I don't think that's true. It's just made different ones."

Sure, Splittr might work well if your Mom ardently desires a pink iPod shuffle or a Martha Stewart Pie and Tart Cookbook (both of which can be found in Splittr's database),  but what of handmade gifts, tenderly baked cookies, and sweetly constructed Mother's Day poems?

Certainly, Splittr is not the optimal tool for die-hard romantics.  Scott himself acknowledges the intrinsic value of these kinds of gifts.  "The best gifts money can't buy," he admits, "but for everything else, there's Splittr."

So if you're still hell-bent on toying with pipe-cleaners and glue this weekend, craft away for your dear Ma.  Just be careful - when you're twenty, framing your own art isn't nearly as cute.  You know what?  It's actually kind of pretentious.  Who do you think you are, Van Gogh? Besides, I'm fairly certain that if I mailed my mother a popsicle stick sculpture this year, she'd laugh and mail me back an unpaid tuition bill.

No matter what you decide to get Mom and how you decide to get it, don't you dare forget that Sunday morning phone call home. (See, I bolded that too.)  She deserves it.