Build a weighted lottery spreadsheet to decide on lunch with friends

Taking a walk and grabbing lunch is one of the simple pleasures of the workday. Unless of course, you bring your lunch to work. Sometimes with a group of people it is hard to decide on where everyone should go to lunch together. Maybe only one person enjoys the guilty pleasure of Taco Bell, while the others want to stick with Whole Foods. Or maybe half of the group wants burgers and the other half pizza.


Here’s a relatively simple Google Mobile spreadsheet. It’s part 2 of our mobile phone spreadsheet series (See Part 1 on Tracking New Year’s Resolutions) that uses a weighted lottery to fairly determine where to go for lunch, taking into account each person’s individual preferences. Basically, each person gets 10 “points” to allocate to three restaurant choices. Each point is effectively a lottery ticket, and the spreadsheet randomly chooses the restaurant, with the probability weighted by how many points each restaurant has received. Continue reading “Build a weighted lottery spreadsheet to decide on lunch with friends”

Build a Secret Santa Spreadsheet

Christmas is here again, and while we at SpreadsheetSolving appreciate the festive spirit, our practical side always wonders “does every single friend need a gift from each of their other friends?”. And… “why can’t we just give cash?”


The game Secret Santa somewhat lessens this gift giving burden among a large group of people. In this game, each person is secretly assigned one other person in the group to give a gift to. Typically, when the person opens their gift, they try to guess who gave it to them. Great fun is had by all (in theory).

We can create a simple spreadsheet to set up the random assignment of people to others in a group. First we enter in a hypothetical list of names: Continue reading “Build a Secret Santa Spreadsheet”

Coin-flipping Life Experiment

© Photographer Dana Rothstein | Agency:

What if life’s major choices are to be decided by the flip of a coin? Interestingly, the Freakonomics Experiments project – a collaboration between Freakonomics and the University of Chicago –  is enlisting volunteers to do just that to study human behavior of decision-making. Intriguing, right?

An essential feature of this experiment is generating a truly random toin coss. While the Freakonomics Experiments team ensured coin toss randomness by using the Swiss-based Fourmilab’s True Random Number Generator (more info here), we can create our own coin toss using spreadsheets!  Really? You bet!

Continue reading “Coin-flipping Life Experiment”