Thank you, from CanTeen – guest post

Literally no one has asked us this yet, but here’s a theoretical question. Why CanTeen as your charity? We had Renee, a youth worker at the CanTeen Wellington branch write this post to give you some insight into why we picked CanTeen and why we’re proud to be supporting them this Christmas. Take it away, Renee…

Christmas is a special time that is surrounded with happiness, love and good cheer. Usually this time is spent with our family enjoying the pine scented goodness of the tree and over indulging at the dinner table.

But have you ever thought what Christmas might be like in a hospital bed? Without that succulent ham? Or perhaps how it would feel if a member of your family was no longer there to celebrate with you?

Unfortunately that’s the reality for a lot of our 13 – 24 year old members here in CanTeen, but with the help of #NZSecretSanta we can make their Christmas’ a little brighter.

Being the charity of choice means so much to us as it enables us Youth Workers to inject an extra bit of holiday magic into the lives of our young people. As a charity it can be challenging to provide our members with that extra special something on Christmas but with secret Santa we can do just that.

Here in Wellington we like to put on an Annual Christmas BBQ at our office, this is a time for us all to get together, relax and share the spirit of the season. This year we will be able to make our event even more awesome by sharing and opening gifts that we have received from the public through NZ post and putting a few extra smiles on some very deserving faces, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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Thank you, from CanTeen – guest post

Five ways to sort your #nzsecretsanta gift without moving – Guest post

Sorting out presents can be haaaaard, especially if we have lives outside Twitter. Thankfully the lovely Lara Wyatt (a.k.a. talarabelle) has you covered. Take it away, Lara!

This time of year is absolutely manic — we’re overrun with hectic work schedules, crazy social commitments, plus we have to organise all the Christmas shopping for our friends and family, plus we’ve got a new friend through signing up for #nzsecretsanta that we need to buy for. Talk about stress! But what if I told you there are plenty of ways to organise your #nzsecretsanta shopping without even leaving your couch?

1) Mighty Ape

No matter what your #nzsecretsanta is interested in, I betcha there’s a gift hidden away in the depths of the Mighty Ape collection that will suit them perfectly. Last year, my secret santa recipient was someone who worked in the farming industry and had to get up at the crack of dawn to get to work. Possibly not the demographic you’d immediately think of when you were shopping on Mighty Ape, however I managed to find a cute-as-a-button sheep-shaped hand cozy that she could pop in her pocket and keep her hands warm while she was out in the cold! Ideal! And what was even cooler was that Mighty Ape offered gift wrapping, and they would send it directly to the Santa Storehouse for you. Check out what you could get your person now at mightyape.co.nz.

2) Donate to charity

If you’ve got a hard-to-buy-for person, or maybe they just don’t tweet very much, you could go down the path of donating to a charity on their behalf! The options for this are basically unlimited. But make sure, whichever charity you vote for, you create some sort of card to send to the Santa Storehouse so that they can mark you off as a good santa, and so your person gets something to open on Christmas day!

3) Regift

Get something for your birthday or some special event that just doesn’t work for you, but think your person would enjoy? Give it a dose of Christmas gift wrap and you’re away! And if you use Pass the Parcel you don’t even need to leave the house to send the parcel off to the Santa Storehouse. Wrap it, package it, and register your parcel with Pass the Parcel, and, as long as you live in their collection range, they’ll pick it up from your doorstep — even if you’re not home!

4) Get someone else to do it for you

Got a friend who loves shopping — especially with someone else’s money? Enlist their help. Put an action plan in place about what you want them to find, and set them off into the world beyond your front door and let them hunt and gather for the perfect gift you’ve been dreaming up. When they bring it back to you, gift it a Christmas wrapping, attach a cute handmade card, and then wrap it up for Pass the Parcel to collect and there’s your #nzsecretsanta good santa badge earned for another year.

5) Shop local

There are so many Kiwi companies, from small to large, that allow you to shop online. Check out shopsmall.co.nz for a huge range of them all accessible in one place — it’s like an online Kiwi shopping mall. Many of the companies on the site have awesome Christmas specials, and since they’re all online, you can just enter your name and address as your person’s Twitter handle and the Santa Storehouse. Easy as that!

Whichever method you choose to venture down, just have a heap of fun with it. Christmas is all about giving and celebrating, so don’t get stressed out about it. Just find something fun and quirky that you think your person will love and send it on out — and it’s even better if you don’t have to battle the malls to do it!

Five ways to sort your #nzsecretsanta gift without moving – Guest post

BSGS Update

Hi everyone! You may or may not be aware that our Elf HQ (NZ Post House) is currently off limits for everything except the ground floor. This is because safety! Very important!

Libby & I (mostly me, to be fair) have been freaking out a little bit since the Kaikoura earthquakes and subsequent building closure. Why? Well the whole Bad Santa Gift Stash is in there. You know, the one we’ve been putting together since JUNE. We (I) were incredibly worried that all the hard work and generous donations of goods would be trapped in Elf HQ until after Christmas – obviously too late for #nzsecretsanta.

After many complainings at my boss and his generous harassment of *his* boss, we got told last night that the floors are being sealed TODAY and if we needed anything, we had to get it before that happened. *freak out*

So this morning, I was lucky/foolish enough to be allowed back into the building to retrieve the ‘business critical’ equipment from our area. After many health and safety briefings and general “don’t be a moron and follow instructions” chats, we were off.

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They wouldn’t let me wear my Elf hat over my hardhat. 😦

The long and the short of it is that we’ve successfully extracted almost all of the Bad Santa Gift Stash. There are roughly 15 items left behind due to size/time constraints; but they’ll be safe where they are and hopefully we’ll have enough to go without them.

The things we do for this game!

Much love,
Aj, Libby & The Elves

BSGS Update

5 Secret Santa match day tips – guest blog post

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Hariata Hema (@hariata). She’s taken the time to let us know what her top tips are for match day for #NZSecretSanta success – take it away Hariata!

  1. Plan well!

Plan and record a personal timeline correctly in your diary or calendar app so you meet the official deadline of posting your gift by 4 December. That is a Sunday, so I already have it in my diary to have posted on or before Friday 2 December, using online postage and free tracking.

That gives me a full six days to sleuth, buy or make, package and post.

One of the reasons I bring my date forward is because I, like a lot of people these days, do not have a printer at home – nor do I go to an office with easy access to one.

When it comes to printing my tracking label to tape to the parcel I am sending, I am setting myself up with a timeline where everything will work out easily.

  1. Get your sleuth on!

Start sleuthing immediately when you know who you are gifting to.

Look on Twitter, of course – but also look and see if they have a Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest or LinkedIn account.

Google search them! If their name is not on their Twitter profile, Google search their username. They likely use the same one elsewhere.

Do you have any common contacts that can be discreetly approached to see what would delight them?

Ask yourself:

  • What do they do in their leisure time?

  • What is important to them?

  • Are they animal, people, plant, book, food, or sport focused?

  1. Look for gifts everywhere!

You are on a quest!

At the same time as you are forming a picture of your giftee’s interests, start looking around for things they might like, wherever you go.

Notice displays at checkouts, get ideas from Etsy, ask colleagues and friends for ideas.

Go to a few places you might not normally go to, if they are in line with what might interest your giftee. (e.g. Garden centres, book shop sections you might not normally go into, stop and look in your normal supermarket using different eyes.)

  1. Will your gift make it through safely?

While you’re looking at gifts, think ahead about whether it will transport well. Will it be in excellent condition on arrival? Is it light? Fragile? Will it still be relevant in a month? Will it stay fresh? Could it spill?

Remember, there is delay between you buying the gift and your giftee receiving it. Be guided in your choice by the journey your gift will go on.

A note from the elves: Every year we receive a small amount of gifts that are broken; spilled or otherwise in less than ideal condition. Make sure you package your gift well (Bubble wrap is your friend)

  1. Package your gift and send it early!

Gather appropriate packaging at the same time as gift purchase.

Will you need bubble wrap? A box? Wrapping paper? What do you have already that you can use? Are you using a card? Writing a personalised note of goodwill? Do you want to include a card from CanTeen?

Make sure you get it on the way before the 4th of December, or you’ll need to Courier it.

Another note from the elves: Gifts that arrive late complicate things greatly and risk making you a Bad Santa. It’s absolutely imperative that you send your gifts as early as possible.

I reckon, if you are on track with this, you will enjoy it and have a bit of fun.

Then you have the hard task of waiting until the photos pop up on Twitter on Delivery Day.

Go, Super Santa!

5 Secret Santa match day tips – guest blog post

Why I Believe in @NZSecretSanta – Guest Blog Post

Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by Andrew Frame (@NapierInFrame), self-described office worker, writer, cricketer and dad. A Secret Santa veteran and regular Good Santa, he’s agreed to share his best NZ Secret Santa Story. Take it away Andrew…

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Secret Santa time has delivered two very special gifts to me over the years .

My @NZSecretSanta tale is a bit of a tangled one, but one with lots of caring and plenty of feels.

For a communication network that allegedly makes people more cut off from reality and social interaction, Twitter has helped me meet some of the most wonderful people both online and in real life and @NZSecretSanta is at the pinnacle of putting the SOCIAL into social media.

Having admired it from afar for the first time in 2012, I took part in my first @NZSecretSanta in 2013.

I was actually out posting my Secret Santa gift off when my wife went into labour with our daughter, who was born three hours later – two speedy deliveries and bundles of joy in one day!

The following year was a bit of a big one for us.

Not only were we looking after our infant offspring, but my father passed away suddenly and we also bought our own home.

Like most people these days we tweeted, facebooked and blogged these experiences – The celebrations, the tragedies, the highs and lows and received wonderful support from our online and real life friends throughout that year.

Considering its auspicious timing the year before, I looked forward to the next @NZSecretSanta as a reminder of the good times and distraction from the bad times.

Now, the trick to being a great SMSS (Social Media Secret Santa) is you have to be a bit of a ninja and investigator. The person you are given to be Secret Santa for can’t know you’re doing it – it’s all very sneaky-sneaky.

Fortunately, most people leave less-than-subtle hints on what they would like (“Mmmm Chocolate/Coffee/Aston Martin V8 Vantage!” etc.…). Others just leave it up to the elves, but very good SMSS’s delve deeper and come up with something unexpected and wonderful.

What my Secret Santa got me in 2014 was far more special than I could ever imagine.

The parcel arrived on my doorstep on a Friday when I was home early from work (speaking of ninjas, I’m pretty sure our NZ Post courier driver is one – Drop, Knock, GONE!).

My wife told me not to open it until Christmas Day.

I lasted just under 24 hours.

While she went down to the shops and left me minding our sleeping daughter, I snuck a look at the parcel – expecting it to be wrapped up inside the box it was sent in.

It wasn’t and what I saw made me start crying.

This is what was in the box:

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I had an EXCEPTIONAL Secret Santa!

Whomever they were, they had scrolled through my 80-odd blog posts at the time (that poor, poor, Secret Santa…) and found the post I wrote about losing my Dad earlier that year.

More importantly, they read one of the last paragraphs and did something my Dad never got to do – soldered up a pair of angel wings for my daughter – his “Little Angel”.

It was a beautiful, heart-felt gift and I still thank them today with every ounce of my being. Somewhere in New Zealand’s Twitterverse someone hopefully got a lifetime supply of good Karma!

But it didn’t stop there – I couldn’t resist spreading the good cheer and immediately tweeted a picture of the gift and a link to the blog they got their inspiration from – The response was phenomenal!

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This is probably the only time that I’ve ever “gone viral” (other than that unfortunate case of Chicken Pox the year before…).

115 “Favourites” (people “liking” the post), 30 “Retweets” (people sharing it with their followers) and those numbers were still climbing!

My site – www.Napierinframe.co.nz , which usually gets only 10-20 views a day (50 if I write something very popular), blew out to a massive 542 views on the Saturday I posted the link and a further 110 on Sunday.

The positivity and love was wonderful – and all because of one little heartfelt gift.

Thank you, my Secret Santa!

That is why I believe in @NZSecretSanta and look forward to it every year!

I hope you all have the Merriest Christmas, the Happiest New Year and the sluthiest and most surprising Secret Santa experience!

Why I Believe in @NZSecretSanta – Guest Blog Post

5 things you need to know about playing #NZSecretSanta – tips for newbies

So you’re new to NZ Secret Santa. Possibly even fairly new to Twitter! Here’s some hints and tips so you can make the most out of playing the game.

1. Just keep tweeting

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You’ll notice the days in between 25 November (matching day) and 15 December (present dispatch day) go a little quiet in #NZSecretSanta land, at least in terms of active hashtag use, so you need to keep the noise going yourself for your Secret Santa.

One of the most common questions we get from Twitter newcomers is “what should I tweet about?” The answer is anything! Let your Santa (and people who follow you) know all about yourself.

Here’s some hints to get the most out of Twitter…

  • Do you have pets or kids? Start sharing photos of them (if you’re comfortable with this obviously
  • Do you appreciate a nice cup of coffee? Join in on the #coffeeselfie hashtag on Fridays
  • Are you a gamer? Let us know what you’re playing and where you’re up to (no spoilers though!)
  • Fancy yourself a bit of a writer? Join in on the #ramereshorts hashtag from the @NZBookCouncil where you write a short story based off some word prompts on Fridays
  • Follow a lot of people! If you’re following less than 100 people, you’re not really making the most out of Twitter

2. Think differently

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It can be tempting to phone it in when you get to the last day and you have no idea what to get for your person. While chocolates and coffees are nice, they do pale in comparison to some of the amazingly personalised gifts we see come through. That said, we really do mean it when we say it’s the thought that counts, so don’t go putting yourself out and spending more than you planned or can afford.

Also, might we suggest our wonderful Bad Santa Gift Stash sponsors for ideas?

3. Get started early

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Basically as soon as you get your match, start sleuthing and thinking of presents! Nine days flies by fast and you don’t want to disappoint your Santa by getting them a rushed generic gift. Unless of course they barely tweet. Then they kinda deserve it (obviously with some extenuating circumstances).

4. Get into the giving spirit

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If you’re the type who loves Christmas to the extent that you’ve considered putting your tree up in November, then we want you! You’re the perfect type to sign up to be a Super Secret Santa and to also get gifts for our charity, CanTeen!

In case you don’t already know, Super Secret Santas will potentially be called upon to buy extra presents at short notice for people with Bad Santas.

And if you feel like getting something for CanTeen, their list of requests can be found here.

5. Seriously, keep tweeting

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Even after all the presents are sent in, your Santa will still be keeping an eye on your timeline (in a totally friendly, not spooky way) for your reaction when you receive your present. Anticipation and excitement is infectious, so keep tweeting about #NZSecretSanta along with everything else going on in life!

Bonus tip – think of receiving a present as a nice bonus for playing the game, not as the end goal

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It’s looking highly likely that we won’t have anyone going without this year thanks to our amazing Bad Santa Gift Stash and the number of Super Secret Santas we have signed up this year (virtual high five to all of these people).

But if in case you don’t receive a present (and the Elves will feel very stink about this), or you receive a present you don’t like, remember, NZ Secret Santa is far more about the giving than the receiving, in a lot of cases, it’s just a fun trade off that you receive a present in return.

And that’s our tips for if you’re a newcomer to NZ Secret Santa! We’ll be back soon with more bloggable content for you after registrations close.

Lots of love,
Libby, Aj and the Elves xx

5 things you need to know about playing #NZSecretSanta – tips for newbies

So, what’s it like being an Elf?

Given this is the fourth year of NZ Post facilitating #nzsecretsanta, Libby thought it would be high-time for us to share our experiences, learnings and a little bit of insight into what happens from an Elf perspective. Here we go!

Lots of activity

In our day jobs, we already spend a lot of time online (I help support nzpost.co.nz and Libby runs all of the NZ Post Social channels) – given #nzsecretsanta is a “down time” thing, we end up spending a significant amount of our own time on it (refer: Graphs at 10.40pm on a Friday etc) so sometimes we need to step back for a while. So if we’re ever slightly less responsive than usual, that’s probably why. We both have day jobs and lives outside the internet!

In previous years, we’ve started prepping for NZ Secret Santa in late September. Things inevitably turned into a giant rush and we never had the time to do a lot of things we’d like to have done. This year, having an extra elf on board (Libby) we were able to kick things off much earlier, so we’ve been all over this thing since June. JUNE!

So, since we had a reasonable amount of time this year, we decided it was the best opportunity we’ve had so far to make some fairly significant changes. These include (but are not limited to):

  • A beautiful new design (thanks Vanessa!)
  • Badges, Medals and Awards
  • The ability to import your Twitter Blocklist
  • Tweaks to the matching engine (the thing that decides who is Santa for whom)
  • Changing the way we manage ‘sponsored’ gifts (I’ll talk more about that, soon)
  • Setting up a partnershipwith CanTeen to provide the option to include beautiful hand drawn Christmas cards with your gifts

And a number of other Elf things that will help this game run more smoothly.

We accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time and I’m immensely grateful to Toby, Ryan & Neil who worked damn hard to make sure we were ready to go at the right time. Thanks guys!

Sponsors and charity stuff

Because of reasons mentioned above, we decided to change-up the way we handle ‘sponsored’ gifts this year (a.k.a The Bad Santa Gift Stash (BSGS)). That said, we are eternally grateful to Cookie Time, MOJO Coffee, Bloomsbury Chocolate and Bojao Coffee for the support we’ve had from them in previous years.

Every year before 2016, we had a small number of amazing companies who donated (or heavily discounted) goods to donate to the BSGS. This ended up being a workable model, but we thought it wasn’t really fair on them to keep asking for heaps of free stuff every year. We also thought it’d be cool to get a bit of variety/personalisation going on, as apparently not everyone likes chocolate and/or coffee (something I’ll never understand).

So this year, we put out a call to any and all businesses that wanted to be involved; from big businesses (Spark, NZ Post etc) to small home businesses, theatre troops and self-employed folks. And boy, did they deliver! We have the coolest BSGS ever and have some amazing gifts that we hopefully won’t have to send out!

See, the whole point of the BSGS is to have backup gifts to send to people whose Santa didn’t send a gift. As with every year, we hope that *everyone* will play the game and send in a gift. If that happens, ALL OF THIS AWESOME STUFF GOES TO CANTEEN! Which is great, cos there’s some really cool stuff in there that will benefit those folks to no end. (But don’t worry, we still have some coffee and chocolate too!)

As well as that, we teamed up with CanTeen (who are bloody cool, by the way!) – this year we’ve included some Elf-action to make it possible for you to include a lovely CanTeen Christmas card with your NZ Secret Santa gift. You’ll see more about this after the matching happens.

In the first meeting we had with the folks at CanTeen, they mentioned that there’s no free WiFi for the CanTeeners at Wellington Hospital to use. We thought we could do something about that. As soon as we can arrange the installation, we’ll be setting up a free WiFi connection for the CanTeen patients at Wellington Hospital with help from our friends at Spark (who are graciously footing the bill – thanks team! <3).

We really love the community spirit fostered by #nzsecretsanta and try our best to use the goodwill it generates to generate more.

Operational stuff

Along with the technical and social media side of NZ Secret Santa, there’s a pretty big amount of logistical work that needs to be done as well. This year, we’ve unfortunately lost our Chief Logistics Elf from previous years (Abeth) as he’s gone and got himself a promotion. *insert eyeroll emoji and dramatic sigh*

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We’ll miss you, Abby!

So this year, we’ve got a new Logistics Elf (in Training) – Erica – who we’re confident will do everything she can to handle the influx of stuff at the busiest possible time of the year. Erica will be leading the charge, herding the reindeer and making sure the sleigh is loaded on time to get gifts to you. If there is delay in processing the incoming gifts at the storehouse, please bear with us. Your dashboard will be updated; it might just take some time.

This brings me to…

TRACKING!!!

Including tracking with your gift is *FREE* if you buy your postage through your NZ Secret Santa dashboard. Not only is it free, it makes it approximately 197% more likely to make it to the storehouse quickly and be checked in without a fuss*. This streamlines the whole process for us, from knowing that a gift is on the way (including who it’s from and who it’s for) to physically marking the item as “arrived at storehouse” and putting it on the shelf. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE USE TRACKING. We don’t even mind if you use a different carrier – we just really like bar codes.

If you do buy tracking but not through your dashboard, please make sure you add the tracking number to your dashboard anyway (https://nzsecretsanta.nzpost.co.nz/add-gift) – all the same stuff still applies.

(*may contain made up facts)


An apology

I have two things to apologise for:

  1. I’m sorry this blog post is really long – it wasn’t meant to be but I’m not good at following instructions. Even if I gave myself those instructions.
  2. Last year, we ran short of Bad Santa gifts. This was the single most upsetting thing that’s ever happened during #nzsecretsanta (from the Elf side) and I unreservedly apologise to anyone and everyone who missed out last year. I thought I had the situation under control (we had a shipment of stuff that was supposed to arrive but didn’t) but I took on too much and my helper-elves were too busy with their day jobs to pitch in, so things slipped and I screwed up. Again – So. Very. Sorry.
    Pretty sure this won’t be a problem this year as we’ve tightened a lot of things up and still have BSGS gifts rolling in every day (we have HEAPS).

I hope you enjoyed this blog post (or it put you into a nice, restful sleep, God knows I could use one of those soon…) and understand a little bit more about what happens in the life of an Elf.

Aroha nui,
Aj & The Elves

So, what’s it like being an Elf?