The First NZ Secret Santa Update for 2017 – dates, changes and more!

Kia ora Santas!

We have awoken from our non-Christmastime slumber to tell you lots of very exciting news. The first is that yes, NZ Secret Santa is indeed happening again this year!

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I HOPE YOU’RE ALL AS EXCITED AS WE ARE

So right off the bat, there’s going to be a few changes and there’s going to be a few stays-the-sameses. Let’s start with the stay-the-sameses.

What’s staying the same?

1) The general structure of the game

You know how it works (unless you don’t, to which I will say, hi! Welcome!). Sign up, get your Santa, sleuth your Santa, tweet hints to your Santa, send the present, wait patiently (seriously, be patient), get your gift, tweet about it, enjoy in the Twitter revelry.

2) The Bad Santa Gift Stash + Super Secret Santas

We’re basically prepared for the inevitable when it comes to bad Santas, so we’ve already started stockpiling gifts for such an inevitability. We will also probably require Super Secret Santas when the game actually gets underway, so stay tuned to the account in late Nov/early Dec for info.

3) Our charity – CanTeen!

So normally we like to change charities with NZ Secret Santa like people change cellphones – approximately yearly. But we had such an overwhelming and incredible response to having CanTeen as our charity (I cried over all the presents we received), that we’re doing the same again this year.

4) Adding a card to your gift

So with hanging with CanTeen again, we’re doing the “add a card to your gift” part again too! All money for the card goes to CanTeen. ❤

5) Badges!

Love ’em or hate ’em, we’re using badges again this year.

So what’s changing?

1) The dates!

Believe it or not, we heard you. Last year got really frantic, especially with the earthquake putting elf HQ out of action, so we’re extending the timelines this year just in case. The dates are as follows (unless we change them):

6 November – Registrations open
22 November – Registrations close
23 November – You’re assigned your Santa
10 December – Send in your gifts by this date
18 December – Dispatch date

We’re giving you an extra week to send your presents – so don’t let us down or you’ll be in trouble. We also heard you about how it wasn’t fair how quickly Auckland got their presents compared to everyone else. That was a weird logistical quirk with dispatching on a Thursday with the storehouse being in Auckland. So now we’re dispatching on a Monday and…

2) The Storehouse is moving!

That’s right! The NZ Secret Santa Storehouse will no longer be based in Auckland. We’re moving this puppy to Wellington. As a side note, if someone wants to bring in a puppy as a therapy dog, we might need it.

We don’t know the exact address that we’ll ask you to send your things to yet, but please for the love of Christmas DO NOT send any NZ Secret Santa presents to the old Storehouse address.

What does this mean? For you, logistically, nothing at all really. Send it to our Welly address, elves take care of it, boom, Christmas is sorted. It may mean that if we ask for help, you can join us at Elf HQ! Previously the Storehouse was at the North Pole behind a line at NZ Customs at the International Mail Centre, which meant it wasn’t technically in the country. Hooray! It also meant that anyone without clearance couldn’t enter, so we couldn’t accept any help from eager Santas.

Please bear in mind just because we might ask for volunteers doesn’t mean we will ask for volunteers. We love your help and enthusiasm, but we just can’t guarantee the scope of everything.

Anything else to note?

A few things.

If we’re perfectly honest right now, we’re having some technical issues at Elf HQ. Nothing for you to be concerned about, but there might be a chance our dates will change as a result. We’ll let you know more if it’s looking to throw things out of whack.

We’re going to be a little stricter around the badges system this. Last year we had requests for workarounds on the charity badge, and while we accommodated this last year, we’ve decided it’s not fair on our charity partner. Not discouraging you from donating to other people anyway, but you’ll need to donate to CanTeen to get the charity badge this year. No workarounds. Soz fam.

We’re still looking for Bad Santa Gift Stash contributions, so awesome businesses, please get in touch!

Also if you want to write a guest blog post for us, message us on Twitter!

And that’s all from us for now! If you’re playing again, welcome back! If you’re playing for the first time, welcome! Let’s make 2017 the best NZ Secret Santa yet.

Lots of love,
Libby, Aj and the Elves x

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The First NZ Secret Santa Update for 2017 – dates, changes and more!

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?