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

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

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 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