In 2013 I participated in a Twitter NZ event called NZ SecretSanta.
It is exactly like a ‘normal’ secret santa, (a Christmas tradition in which members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift) . On the twitter version you are given the twitter handle (aka name) of someone else who is participating. You stalk their tweets and photos to find out what they are into – then you buy them a gift for Christmas and you post it to them anonymously. Fingers crossed you will then receive a gift anonymously from someone else who is participating.
Secret Santa is a brilliant way to switch the consumer-overload “me-me-me” focus of Christmas back to the real point (not just Jesus Birthday), giving without motive.
NZSecretSanta on Twitter began in 2010 and was ‘created’ by a cool kiwi dude called Sam. He talked about it on twitter and hundreds and hundreds (maybe a thousand, I really don’t know – if I can’t count it on one hand I get bored…) people signed up and it was a massive success. The next year even more people signed up (counting with both hands and toes by now for sure) and Sam must have gotten super overloaded and he asked for help to run it. In 2013 the clever and wise people at NZPost put their hand up and took over. They hired some elves from the North Pole, got Santa involved so that they had access to the Naughty and Nice list (only nice secret Santas who sent in a present received one in return.) In other words no present sent meant no present received so no one missed out. This was awesome.
For two years I had sat by on twitter watching the joy unfold each Christmas and feeling massive doses of FOMO as my twitter stream filled with the excited tweets of snooping stalkers enjoying the chance to spy on a stranger on Twitter with the sole purpose of delighting them on Christmas day. In 2013 I signed up to the webpage and registered to take part. #myfirsttime. I could not wait to be assigned my lucky victim. This was a shopping challenge that I was born to excel at.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is plausible that I might have aimed too high when I came up with THE perfect present for my tweeter. This present i had thought up in a eureka moment of stalking. It was a custom made something something – and I knew they would LOVE it. I googled. I searched New Zealand high and low online in a desperate hope that someone local could make this for me. I am a great ideas person – but have zero design ability so I need serious professional help. Plus the item in question needed to be quality all the way. I finally found an outfit that made exactly what I wanted. I ‘designed’ the item (using their helpful online tools) and was fully happy with how it looked and how practical and simple it was. (after an hour or so of working, deleting, modifying, and re-designing) Then I went to order the item. This is when the swear words happened. The company did not ship to NZ. Gutted. What a waste of time. Now I was back at square one. I took to twitter with my frustrations.
NZSecretSanta tweeted me a reply suggesting I try the NZPost online tool that takes care of the international shipping for you from places that wont ship to NZ. It gives you a local address for the item to be shipped to, then it gets the item to you. This was my Christmas Miracle.
Fortuitously I liked my design so much I had saved it – so I was able to re-order my perfect present and have it shipped to my new NZ post ‘local’ address. Now the tricky part…would it make it to NZ by the deadline?! Surely it would. I crossed my fingers and my toes. Then I waited.
I waited and waited. The company making the item got in touch to double check the address, (I took this as a good sign) then days later NZ post got in touch to say they had the item in the US of A, but time was seriously running out to get it all the way to me in NZ. I was worried. I didn’t want to ruin my tweeters Christmas or their (and my) NZSecretSanta experience. I asked Twitter for advice. Should I buy a back up present? Yes/No they said. (so I did)
I was able to track my item by this stage and I could see that it was 100% not going to arrive by the due date. I was devastated. Then a christmas elf got in touch. “I have a plan” they said…(I love an elf with a plan – i mean who doesn’t?) …would I have the parcel re-directed straight to the elves workshop…? This way it would (almost) make the deadline. I re-directed the parcel but this meant I would’t get to see the gift with thine own eyes and drink in its awesomeness in person. I was sad. Boo Hoo. Plus I couldn’t wrap it either. Darnation. The kindly elves offered to wrap it for me. I thought of how busy they were…I offered to go to their workshop and wrap it for them. It was agreed that I would do just that..
Fast forward a few days and nek minnit I was at the North Pole and fast than you can say “Jingle Bells” I caught the elevator to the secret grotto of the Christmas elves. It was a hive of activity… toys everywhere, wrapping everywhere, snow, reindeers, candles and mistletoe. I went into a little room and opened my bespoke present. It was, in a word: Perfect. I was certain my tweeter would love it. I cut some wrapping paper, not enough (I am not spatial). Damn. That was dumb. I cut more wrapping paper and wrapped that present until my hands bled. I made the most magnificent ‘Merry Christmas’ ribbon bow the world has ever seen and then I delivered said present back into the little teeny-tiny but perfectly formed hands of the overworked elves. (along with some thank-you-for-going-the-extra-mile-chocolate). I agreed not to reveal their secret North Pole location to anyone (my lips are sealed) and off I went. To wait, and to watch twitter (ok to stalk my tweeter) with baited breath.
By this time my poor tweeter was pretty convinced that they had drawn a dud secret santa and they had resolved themselves to the fact that they were not going to get a present. The NZSecretSanta website was telling them that their present had ‘not been received’. Only the elves and I knew otherwise….there were a lot of tweets from me about #buildingsuspense #nailbiting #alittlegirlwaits #notalumpofcoal
I didn’t have long to wait until their present was delivered … on Dec 22nd …and they loved it.
I just checked their feed tonight (one last stalk for the road) and their present is now their profile pic. It think that says it all.
My present arrived as I was leaving to go away on my road trip – so I tweeted that I would open it when I got back. It was an exciting moment and my present was perfect for me, it even came with a lovely letter and a Christmas card. I was very happy. (see video)
Receiving was fun, but giving was awesomer.
Nothing compared to the highs and lows of being an anonymous Santa for someone else.
Merry Christmas to all who took part and kept the spirit of Christmas alive and well on twitter with NZSecretSanta 2013.
See you in 2014 team.