Guest Blog – CanTeen – Youth Support Coordinator Miranda Palmer

Have you ever wondered what CanTeen does? Youth Support Coordinator Miranda Palmer sheds a little light on things in this super informative guest blog post. Over to you, Miranda!

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At CanTeen, we support young people aged 13-24 who are affected by Cancer. We want to make sure no young person goes through cancer alone – patient, sibling or offspring – bereaved or non-bereaved. Support is a really individual thing, so we have several paths for being there for our young people. The 1-1 support us YSC’s provide is like having an advocate and mentor on your team, to be alongside a CanTeener,  stick up for CanTeeners in their communities and provide options and access to support.

Peer support is my favourite part of CanTeen – young people are the experts on what they are going through, so who better to support them then others their own age who have been through the same thing! We also provide counselling, and weekend workshops where CanTeeners can let go, learn some new skills and meet others who get it. Lots of CanTeeners who are over the bad bits of their cancer experience love to give back, and to learn further skills. So we also provide leadership opportunities which gives these young people the chance to run their own events, use their story to advocate for others and fundraise for CanTeen. We even have an advocacy group specifically for young people who are looking to make change in their communities about the grief, loss and change around cancer!

We are really jazzed to have NZ Post Secret Santa choose us again! As CanTeen member leader Matt explained, the gifts and amazing thoughts given to us through this campaign goes towards a busy end of year time for us and our young people. For many young people, cancer doesn’t just impact them physically but also socially, emotionally, mentally and financially. Looking after themselves and their loves ones through treatment and loss becomes priority. Incomes are stretched, lives are changed and the meaning of life changes for our members – and thanks to NZ Post’s NZ Secret Santa we are able to bring a bit of joy and excitement into the lives of our members at this key time of year. From gifts to patients on ward, to vouchers to bereaved siblings and offspring, we are so humbled and grateful to be thought of.

Christmas parties are a chance to really spoil our members which are always great fun (despite what my photo looks like). They’re really a special time, where we can celebrate our members resilience, courage and strength in the face of cancer. #NZSecretSanta adds that extra sparkle to these events and to their lives, which we can’t thank you all enough!

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Guest Blog – CanTeen – Youth Support Coordinator Miranda Palmer

Guest Blog – CanTeen – Matthew Manukuo

CanTeen were kind enough to get a couple of guest bloggers for us, so prepare yourselves, Matthew Manukuo is up first! Take it away Matthew.

Matthew & Members Xmas 1

Hey! My name is Matthew Manukuo. I am 16 years of age and I am a cancer survivor! I also have the privilege and honour to be a member of CanTeen NZ’s Auckland Branch and be one of their member leaders.

Matthew & Members Xmas 2

At CanTeen, we not only have fun at Christmas, we also like to make sure EVERYONE is looked after. During the festive season, we put on a massive Christmas party for all our patient, sibling and offspring members. Our patients have a dedicated Christmas dinner where we give gifts and celebrate the hard year it has been for them. And the last thing we do is ensure our bereaved members and families are set up for Christmas. Thanks to #NZSecretSanta we’re able to make this possible thanks to all the gifts and goodies we get, to really make Christmas that much more special.

Matthew & Members Xmas 3

Thank you #NZSecretSanta for all your awesome support!

Guest Blog – CanTeen – Matthew Manukuo

How to be more awesome this Christmas – guest post

If you’re looking for a gift that does good, look no further than this blog, brought to you by Nic of Good Bitches Baking. Nic Murray is trying to save the world with kindness, and cake, after getting pretty drunk one night and accidentally starting a charity. She’s based in Wellington and is a self-employed contractor who gets shit done. You’ll find more of Nic at @goodbitchesbake and @NicNicNZ Take it away, Nic!

@goodbitchesbake and @NicNicNZ

You are pretty awesome already because you’re playing Secret Santa, but there is a way to become more awesome. It’s easy too – you’re buying a present anyway, all you have to do is buy a certain type of present and you’re instantly more awesome (and the world is a little brighter).

Buying a gift that supports a charity is a gift that gives more. As well as your recipient getting a great present, the charity you supported gets some much needed funds and you get to feel twice as good because in effect you gave two gifts. More people win, and you are more awesome than you were before you bought that gift.

There are loads of ways to do this, but since I’m writing this blog I’m going to shamelessly spruik my charity – Good Bitches Baking. There are about 1000 GBs all over our lovely land who believe that kindness can save us all. We show kindness by baking delicious treats and giving them to people who are having a tough time. There are a lot of them – in shelters, refugees, hospital wards, support groups etc. We know that a moment of sweetness has amazing benefits, for everyone involved.

We need money to keep going, so we’ve made a freakishly beautiful cookbook called Bloody Good Baking. The recipes are tightly-held kitchen secrets and family heirlooms. And there’s a special price of $40 available for you until 3 December – even more winning!

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Also available is a cool tea-towel ($15) featuring my highly sought-after ginger crunch recipe. Seriously, people who usually have good grace and decorum used to beg me for this recipe. This is perfect for anyone with a kitchen.

Buying these things will definitely make you more awesome! Do it here.

Of course, there are other charities that you can buy presents from. Check out some charities that you love and see if they are selling stuff. Or have a look at:

  • Super cool bandanas from Canteen and help support teens with cancer and their siblings
  • A knitting book from Neonatal Trust and help support prem babies and their parents

Or if you think your gift-recipient would like it, you could buy a gift that goes to someone else, like:

And even if you can’t help out a charity, there are other ways to make your gift-giving dollars do more good, like buying your gift from

  • Trade Aid and help craft makers in developing counties
  • a company that treats their suppliers fairly like these Wellington Chocolate Factory chocolates or Flight coffee
  • a store that supports lots of charities, like Moore Wilson’s.

You can even get customised Christmas cards made, with some of the profit going to a charity of your choice.

There are loads of ways to help make every dollar you spend do good. And crikey, we could all do with a bit more good right now, eh?

How to be more awesome this Christmas – guest post

5 tips for playing #NZSecretSanta – guest post

Okay Santas, we’re getting down to the wire on sending deadlines. Good thing Meagan (ThisIsMeaganK) is here to give you some hints and tips on how to play and how to get your gift sorted.

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We’re in full swing with #NZSecretSanta – everyone has been assigned the person they’re gifting to (if you’re not sure who yours is, make sure you check your dashboard, stat!) and some Santas have already shipped their presents off to the elves. Some people are easy to shop for because they join in the Q&A sessions, they tweet a lot and they’re active on the #NZSecretSanta hashtag; but what if you’re trying to find a great gift for someone who has a locked account, only tweets about work things or just retweets ratings of cute dogs?

THINGS TO HELP THEM RELAX

If someone tweets about work a lot, there’s a good chance they need a bit of R&R! Gifts to help someone relax are always a nice treat regardless – think body lotions, face masks, candles, foot scrubs … basically any of those nice “feel good” things.

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EMERGENCY TEA BREAK KIT

The humble tea break is the perfect time to check Twitter, so why not get your giftee some things to make that tea break even more awesome? Suggestions include a nifty coffee cup, something to drink (I’m a fan of hot chocolate and coffee myself, but go for your hot beverage of choice), a tasty snack, and something to pass the time – a magazine, a crossword, Sudoku – think about what you like to do on your breaks!

CHECK OUT THE BAD SANTA GIFT STASH SPONSORS

The elves have been hard at work lining up some amazing sponsors, and they have some pretty cool things that might spark some ideas for that perfect gift. Find the full line up here.

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GROW YOUR OWN

Plants can be a cool gift but they’re hard to send in the post (all that soil and whatnot). A kit to grow something cool of your own? Now there is a great idea! Grab a premade kit (these Peropon ones are my top pick, they’re super cute) or pick out some seeds and create your own.

FEELING CHARITABLE?

A donation to a rad charity is always a nice thought. CanTeen is the #NZSecretSanta charity this year, or you could support another one you think might appeal to your giftee. Whichever one you choose, make sure you send a little something in to the storehouse so that the elves can check off your gift – maybe a card to say what charity you’ve picked and what you’ve donated on their behalf?

If you’re still feeling stuck and need to give your #NZSecretSanta giftee a nudge to help you out, check out the NZSS Prodder – they can send an anonymous tweet on your behalf and do some sleuthing for you. Good luck Santas!

5 tips for playing #NZSecretSanta – guest post

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

Five ways to sort your #nzsecretsanta gift without moving – Guest post

Sorting out presents can be haaaaard, especially if we have lives outside Twitter. Thankfully the lovely Lara Wyatt (a.k.a. talarabelle) has you covered. Take it away, Lara!

This time of year is absolutely manic — we’re overrun with hectic work schedules, crazy social commitments, plus we have to organise all the Christmas shopping for our friends and family, plus we’ve got a new friend through signing up for #nzsecretsanta that we need to buy for. Talk about stress! But what if I told you there are plenty of ways to organise your #nzsecretsanta shopping without even leaving your couch?

1) Mighty Ape

No matter what your #nzsecretsanta is interested in, I betcha there’s a gift hidden away in the depths of the Mighty Ape collection that will suit them perfectly. Last year, my secret santa recipient was someone who worked in the farming industry and had to get up at the crack of dawn to get to work. Possibly not the demographic you’d immediately think of when you were shopping on Mighty Ape, however I managed to find a cute-as-a-button sheep-shaped hand cozy that she could pop in her pocket and keep her hands warm while she was out in the cold! Ideal! And what was even cooler was that Mighty Ape offered gift wrapping, and they would send it directly to the Santa Storehouse for you. Check out what you could get your person now at mightyape.co.nz.

2) Donate to charity

If you’ve got a hard-to-buy-for person, or maybe they just don’t tweet very much, you could go down the path of donating to a charity on their behalf! The options for this are basically unlimited. But make sure, whichever charity you vote for, you create some sort of card to send to the Santa Storehouse so that they can mark you off as a good santa, and so your person gets something to open on Christmas day!

3) Regift

Get something for your birthday or some special event that just doesn’t work for you, but think your person would enjoy? Give it a dose of Christmas gift wrap and you’re away! And if you use Pass the Parcel you don’t even need to leave the house to send the parcel off to the Santa Storehouse. Wrap it, package it, and register your parcel with Pass the Parcel, and, as long as you live in their collection range, they’ll pick it up from your doorstep — even if you’re not home!

4) Get someone else to do it for you

Got a friend who loves shopping — especially with someone else’s money? Enlist their help. Put an action plan in place about what you want them to find, and set them off into the world beyond your front door and let them hunt and gather for the perfect gift you’ve been dreaming up. When they bring it back to you, gift it a Christmas wrapping, attach a cute handmade card, and then wrap it up for Pass the Parcel to collect and there’s your #nzsecretsanta good santa badge earned for another year.

5) Shop local

There are so many Kiwi companies, from small to large, that allow you to shop online. Check out shopsmall.co.nz for a huge range of them all accessible in one place — it’s like an online Kiwi shopping mall. Many of the companies on the site have awesome Christmas specials, and since they’re all online, you can just enter your name and address as your person’s Twitter handle and the Santa Storehouse. Easy as that!

Whichever method you choose to venture down, just have a heap of fun with it. Christmas is all about giving and celebrating, so don’t get stressed out about it. Just find something fun and quirky that you think your person will love and send it on out — and it’s even better if you don’t have to battle the malls to do it!

Five ways to sort your #nzsecretsanta gift without moving – Guest post

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