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*

Chief Elf hard at work.JPG
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

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So, what’s it like being an Elf?