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?

Guest post: @WebSam – #nzsecretsanta history, growth and learning

Christmas is fast approaching and with that it means NZ Twitter Secret Santa is here.  This is the 7th year it has been going which is awesome and I sometimes must stop and realise that I ran this for the first 3 years, which looking back on it, was some crazy times.

In the beginning

I had a conversation on Twitter and the topic of Secret Santa in the workplace came up, we discussed how cool it would be if there was a Secret Santa for people on Twitter.  That thought must have stuck in my head as next thing I know I am announcing that’s what was going to do.

There was no planning, or real thought put into it.  It seemed like a good idea and I asked whoever wanted to take part to DM me their addresses and I would match them up with someone.

I had no idea how I was going to manage the matching side of things, but via the magic of Twitter I was sent a rather fancy spreadsheet that would randomly match people up and create the tweet for me to DM later.

Initially there were around 240 people sign up, and due to a little bit of media coverage right at the end of sign up, I did a second round with another 200 + people signing up.

There were many late nights making sure I had the details I needed, tweets going all over the place and making sure people didn’t get matched with people they didn’t want to be matched with.

For the 2nd and 3rd year I put together a website that collected people’s details, which helped streamline the process for me, and from memory the 3rd year had around 850 people signed up to play.

Running a Secret Santa on this scale by yourself leads to some challenges, people not getting gifts, gifts turning up 4 months later, or participants turning up to hand deliver their gift in March.  But overall, everything seemed to go OK.

I think some people thought there was a whole team working behind the scenes, probably didn’t help I used my average Photoshop skills to create 3 of myself working

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Time to grow

I didn’t think I would be able to deal with another year of running it, or give it the justice it deserved, so I put the call out to see if there was anyone else out there that was up for the challenge.

I didn’t have any idea of who would be an ideal fit for this, I just knew I wasn’t keen for someone to commercialise it, this was evident when people said they would rather prefer a hairy giant pumpkin grower from Hamilton was running it rather than a nationwide radio station who had shown some interest early on.

NZ Post contacted me and said they might be keen, they just had to check with some bigwigs and would be back in touch, while they were doing that I talked to a couple of people on Twitter about it, and the responses were positive.

To cut a long story short, NZ Post took over NZ Twitter Secret Santa, and with their small team of Elves have been improving the Secret Santa experience ever year, this year they implemented loading your block lists, matching Secret Santa’s and getting an amazing group of businesses on board to help with the inevitable bad Santa’s.

I can’t think of a better company to be running NZ Secret Santa, and I get excited to take part every year, I hope you do too.

Things I have learnt

Being in the unique position of running and taking part in NZ Secret Santa, here are a few things I personally have learnt over the years.

  • Giving is more important than receiving
  • Putting just a little bit of thought into the gift makes it so much better
  • Handmade + Cheap doesn’t make a bad gift, just make it awesome
  • Be nice to everyone, including the Elves, they do an awesome job as well as their day jobs.
  • Make sure to tell everyone you know to take part, so many people never hear about it until after registration closes.
  • If the worst thing to happen to you is that you didn’t get a random gift from a stranger off the internet, then count yourself lucky.

For more on what I am up to, or to say hi.  Check me out @websam or www.websam.nz

Guest post: @WebSam – #nzsecretsanta history, growth and learning

FAQs – #NZSecretSanta 2016

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, 10 November until 24 November, but the elves reserve the right to change the closing date as needed.

When do I find out who I’m Santa for?

25 November!

I didn’t get a confirmation email?

We don’t send confirmation emails when you sign up. You’ll be emailed on 25 November with details on who you’ve been matched with.

I didn’t get a match email?!

If it’s after the 25th 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.

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Who’s the charity this year?

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

What are you doing for CanTeen?

As in previous years, we’ll be donating presents (after elf approval for appropriateness) intended for Bad Santas. We’re also working with a couple of sponsors on super special extra things behind the scenes. We’ll announce what this is when we have it all finalised.

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]).

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:

  • Colouring in books and pencils
  • DVDs
  • Food (chocolates/bags of lollies)
  • Nail polish
  • Body products (moisturiser/soap/hand creams)
  • Bed Socks/socks
  • Magazines
  • Small motivational wall Art pieces
  • Magnet holders for photos etc
  • Candles
  • Itunes gift card
  • Headwear (Caps, Hats, Beanies)
  • T-Shirts
  • Hair products
  • Wallets / Card holders
  • Cool stationery (e.g. fluffy pens)
  • Eye brow pencils
  • Photo frames
  • DIY art kits
  • Key rings
  • Posters (gaming, boy bands)
  • Playing cards
  • Mobile phone top up vouchers
  • Headphones
  • Diaries or Journals

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. 🙂

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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.

Can I send a gift to another Tweep using the Storehouse system?

Yes, but only if they’re signed up for #nzsecretsanta – if they’re not, the gift will be returned to sender or given to charity if no sender details are provided.

PLEASE add *any* extra gifts you send to your dashboard (https://nzsecretsanta.nzpost.co.nz/add-gift) so we know when they’re coming, who they’re from and who they’re for. It’ll also tell you if the person you’re wanting to send to isn’t playing.

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

Short answer, no.

Long answer, no, because the storehouse is in a customs bonded area (surrounded by snow and happy reindeer). This is a strict no access area for almost everyone and you need special clearance to get in, which unfortunately, we don’t have the power to hand out to players, as much as we’d appreciate your help.

Where is Santa’s Storehouse?

9 Laurence Stevens Drive, Auckland Airport. In a special, magical part of the Auckland International Mail Centre. Surrounded by snow and happy reindeer.

Where is elf HQ?

Most of our elves are based at NZ Post House in Wellington.

And that’s all from us for now!

Love,
Libby, Aj and the Elves xx

FAQs – #NZSecretSanta 2016