What CanTeen and #NZSecretSanta mean to me – guest post

We’re lucky enough to have another guest post from CanTeen – this time from Matt, a member of CanTeen. He’s here to share his story and what he thinks of #NZSecretSanta supporting CanTeen. Take it away Matt.

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Me at the 2015 CanTeen Christmas party.

Kia ora folks, my name is Matt. I’m a member of CanTeen and I’ve been invited to share a little about ourselves and what this years #nzsecretsanta means to us.

You may be aware that the team at NZ Post have decided to make us the lucky recipients of this years BSGS (assuming there aren’t too many bad santas out there!) and some of you may have even been awesome enough to send us a gift yourselves! We reckon you should know therefore what we’re all about at CanTeen.

In case you’ve never heard of us CanTeen is an organisation which supports young people living with cancer. Thats people aged 13-24 and includes patients, siblings of patients, bereaved siblings and offspring (people whose parents have cancer). I’ve been a part of this fantastic family for over three and a half years now so I know much about what this all involves but lately I’ve been thinking a bit about what it’d be like on the outside looking in- what you guys see. And I think what is often seen is the ‘ABC’s of CanTeen’.

In my head these ABC’s are adolescents, bandannas and camps. Is this what comes to mind when you think of CanTeen? No doubt that’s all part of what we do and we can do them all well but to me there is a whole alphabet to the world of CanTeen (don’t worry, I won’t be so inane as to assign something to each letter!). What are some of these other things? Well, we of course offer important support in hospital, we run programmes that help our members deal with grief, relationships etc, we take member experiences and with those advocate to government, we offer counselling, peer support, leadership development and loads of fun times. Although that’s far from an exhaustive list, point is that supporting us helps support a tonne of really important work- and I can vouch for that importance because I’ve experienced it personally.

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Me with my sister, Hayley.

And what of myself? I’m 22 and a bereaved sibling member. My sister Hayley was diagnosed with cancer just before the beginning of 2013 and together we experienced much of CanTeen’s support in hospital, through catch ups and at camp. In Hayley’s case cancer wasn’t to be overcome and she died in April 2014. Since then I’ve seen ever so much more of CanTeen. I’ve grieved a lot and grown a lot and they’ve been by my side the whole way.

There is a quote from our Queen which really resonates with me- “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

I had it hard for a while after Hayley died, I was very close to her and for months I’d cry myself to sleep. Since then I’ve learnt that the grief I experienced came from my love for her and I am convinced that the love I was able to share with her makes it all worth it. And that is what life’s all about- being kind to one another and sharing our love.

I must confess my prior ignorance to the #nzsecretsanta phenomenon but reading the blog and browsing the hashtag I see that in the community that you’ve all created. This idea is such a bright spark and it is amazing seeing the joy people have in giving and doing something kind for a stranger. In some cases that stranger may be people like me, members of CanTeen, and knowing that we have that support and backing from you means a great deal- more than the material benefit ever will (and you can bet we appreciate every bit of that we can get too!).

With that I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone involved in NZ Secret Santa- the sponsors, the team at NZ Post and of course the thousands of you- you’ve already brought a few smiles to my face today and there is huge potential for many more!

Merry Christmas and thank you to all- you guys rock. xx

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What CanTeen and #NZSecretSanta mean to me – guest post

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

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

FAQs – #NZSecretSanta 2017

Welcome Santas! Thanks for taking the time to take a gander at our FAQs. If there’s a question we haven’t addressed, leave a comment below or tweet us at @NZSecretSanta.

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How do I sign up?

Head on over to nzsecretsanta.co.nz and hit the ‘sign up to play’ button!

How long are registrations open for?

Currently, 6 November until 22 November, but the elves reserve the right to change the closing date as needed.

When do I find out who I’m Santa for?

23 November!

I didn’t get a confirmation email?

We don’t send confirmation emails when you sign up. You’ll be emailed on 23 November with details on who you’ve been matched with.

I didn’t get a match email?!

If it’s after the 23th and you didn’t get an email from us, we’ve sent it! Log into your dashboard at nzsecretsanta.co.nz and you’ll be able to see who you’re playing Santa for.

Can I start tweeting hints?

For sure! Be sure to use the hashtag ‘#NZSecretSanta’ to make it easier for your Santa to find your hints.

Pro tip: You can find someone’s hints easily by searching their username and the hashtag #NZSecretSanta in Twitter’s search bar.

Wasn’t there a dashboard that showed Santa signups?

There sure is! It’s right here. You’ll also be able to see stats about gifts when the time comes.

Can I have Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern/Hilary Barry/[other specific player]?

In the nicest possible way, no and please stop asking. Who you’re assigned is random, and once you’re assigned someone it can’t be changed. And please be a good Santa even if you’re not assigned someone you hoped to be assigned to. The algorithm is random and we can’t make any promises. 🙂

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Who’s the charity this year?

Our friends at CanTeen are! Again! You can find them here on Twitter.

What are you doing for CanTeen?

As in previous years, we’ll be donating presents (after elf-appropriateness-inspection) intended for Bad Santas.

What can I do for them?

You can get them a present! If you’re getting a present for CanTeen, we ask that you send it separately and clearly label it (To: CanTeenNZ, from [Your Username], C/- Santa Storehouse, 7 Waterloo Quay, Pipitea, Wellington 6011).

Why can’t I bundle in the presents together?

As a rule, we generally don’t repack the presents (barring ones intended for Bad Santas), we just change the shipping address so it goes to your recipient. There’s only a few elves in the storehouse, so we don’t have the capacity to repack them. You’ll be saving us a whole bunch of elf-time and elf-labour, so thank you in advance. ❤

What can I send to CanTeen?

Good question! Here’s the wishlist CanTeen provided us:

  • DVDs
  • Snacks: chocolate (Christmas-themed is a winner!), tinned shortbread, candy canes
  • Cosmetics: eyebrow pencil, nail polish, hair products, anything beauty-related
  • Craft, art and DIY kits
  • Coffee cups
  • Beading and bracelet sets
  • Vouchers/gift cards: iTunes, Google Play, Cotton On, JB HIFI, mobile phone top-ups
  • Movie tickets
  • Headphones
  • Wheat bags
  • Headwear: caps, hats, beanies
  • Bed socks/socks
  • Toiletries: moisturiser, soap, hand creams
  • Sun cream
  • Beach towels
  • Magazines
  • Small motivational wall Art pieces
  • Magnet holders for photos etc.
  • Candles
  • Portable speakers
  • T-Shirts
  • Mindfulness (art therapy) colouring books (not ones for kids, please!) and felt-pens/pencils
  • Wallets / Card holders
  • Cool stationery (e.g. fluffy pens)
  • Photo frames
  • Key rings
  • Posters (gaming, boy bands)
  • Playing cards

Do I wrap my present for CanTeen?

Good question! Ideally not, we need to vet the presents for appropriateness, but in the end it’s up to you! We enjoy unwrapping presents as much as anyone. 🙂

My assigned Santa has requested I donate to charity, how do I do that?

So the thing is, you need to send something to the Storehouse, even if it’s just a card. Don’t just donate on your Santa’s behalf and presume we’ll know what you’ve done, we’re not omniscient like Santa Claus. So please, send something so we can mark you as a good Santa!

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How can I help the elves?

In a few different ways.

  1. Spread the word! Retweet our tweets, write your own tweets and use the #NZSecretSanta hashtag
  2. Be a good Santa!
  3. Tweet your own personal NZ Secret Santa journey – what’s going on in your mind while you’re sleuthing, whether or not you’ve bought your gift, if you’ve wrapped it, if you’ve sent it, etc.
  4. (Optional) Sign up to be a Super Secret Santa!

What’s a Super Secret Santa?

A Super Secret Santa is someone who goes above and beyond for us! Occasionally we have less presents than players because of Bad Santas, so we like to ask our Santas to step up to be Super Secret Santas before delving into the NZ Secret Santa Bad Santa Gift Stash (provided by sponsors). Please note that this is essentially an on call situation, we will need you to be prepared to buy a present for someone on very short notice, so we understand if not everyone can be a Super Secret Santa.

I want to help in person! Can I help send the presents?

Since the storehouse is no longer behind the Customs Bonded Area red line, we *might* put out a call for volunteers to help sort on dispatch day (December 18).

Please remember this is a *might* and we make no promises. We’re short on space this season, so it might be too tricky to have more people involved. We’ll do what we can!

Where is Santa’s Storehouse?

7 Waterloo Quay, Pipitea, Wellington (6011) – New Zealand Post House; once dubbed the ugliest building in Wellington is not short on Christmas Cheer and Reindeer Parking.

Where is elf HQ?

All of our elves this year are housed at NZ Post House in Wellington.

Can I drop my present off to the Storehouse instead of posting it?

Yes, if you’re in Wellington you can drop it to reception at NZPost House, 7 Waterloo Quay. Let the lovely reception folks know it’s for Aj on Level 5, or drop us a DM when you’re on your way and we can come down and take it off your hands 🙂 (time dependent).

And that’s all from us for now!

Love,
The Elves

FAQs – #NZSecretSanta 2017