If you’re writing a story about #nzsecretsanta, we applaud you and encourage you to read the following questions, asked of us by a Kiwi journalism student.
I understand that this has been going for 6 years now, how long have you been involved in this project?
I first got involved in when New Zealand Post took the reigns from @WebSam in 2013.
Is your involvement voluntary or is it part of your job? if the latter, would you be happy to do it voluntarily?
It’s a bit of both – we mostly run it outside of business hours, but there’s a certain amount that has to be done during work-time (technical stuff, logistics etc) that the company is happy for me to manage.
Do you actually participate in the giving and receiving? if so, what was your experience like?
Personally, I took part in the first 2 years that New Zealand Post facilitated it as I wasn’t quite so heavily involved. Now I am ‘Head Elf’ it doesn’t seem right that I should play as I have access to too much information! My team and I play every year as @nzpost though; so that helps!
Is there a goal of how many people you would like to see involved? (overall and each year)
This year we were hoping for 2,500+ but we’re always happy with whatever we get. Obviously the less people involved mean more people miss out and usually contact us after the fact and ask to sign up (which isn’t normally possible)
Do you think that this could be picked up by other countries?
Absolutely! I think it’d be great if other countries ran something similar. There’s also RedditGifts which runs this on a world-wide scale every year.
Do you know why twitter was chosen to launch this project?
It was started on Twitter by @WebSam and we’ve just kept it true to the original format.
Do you see Facebook taking something like this on?
Potentially, but Facebook has a lot of different privacy options; where Twitter is either Private or Open. Facebook also has different technologies involved, which we can work with, but it then asks a lot more questions than it answers (e.g. do you match Facebook users with only Facebook users? Do you cross Facebook/Twitter lines? Can you sign up using both Twitter and Facebook? etc)
What charities are the gifts, that don’t go to the recipient, sent to? why those charities?
This year, we’re sending our Bad Santa gifts to CanTeen. In previous years, we’ve done Auckland City Mission, Wellington City Mission, Christchurch City Mission and the Red Cross. We choose charities based on who we think will benefit the most from receiving the goods at Christmastime.
Is there another program you could start where presents are sent solely to those charities?
Technically speaking, yes – absolutely. However; we think it’s best for people to donate to their charities of choice whenever they are able to do so, and not just wait for Christmas – people are in need all year round.
Do many of those involved have bad experiences? (they don’t receive their gift)
Yes, there are always a few sad stories where either the player didn’t get a gift or the gift they did get was totally off the mark (expired hand cream, pick ‘n’ mix lollies etc) – thankfully for us, the good outweighs the bad (by miles), every year.
Do you find that once somebody has done #nzsecretsanta, that they participate the following year?
Generally speaking, yes – this year 1,300 of our 1,979 players are ‘return Santas’ where the other 679 are freshly minted, never before played Santas.
Will any modifications be made to #nzsecretsanta in the coming years?
Most likely – we make small changes every year to keep the game fresh *and* to make improvements to how it works.
Why do you think this has been a growing success?
All in all, I think Kiwi’s are a generous bunch and love to make people smile. This is also a great oppurtunity to see what life is like outside of your normal circle of friends.
What have you enjoyed most about #nzsecretsanta?
Without a doubt, seeing what people come up with to blow their giftee’s minds! This whole thing is totally about giving and finding something that will make your giftee’s Christmas amazing.
In addition to this, we’ve seen many outlets push the word “stalking” – a word we actively discourage use of due to its negative connotations. We prefer the term “sleuthing”.
Naturally, if you have any of your own questions you’d like to ask of myself or Libby, please get in touch! We can be DM’d on Twitter (@nzsecretsanta) or emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org.