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!

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

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

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

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