Twitter Secret Santa 2014 part 1 – Observations

by Diane on 20/12/2014

It’s Twitter Secret Santa time again! If you need a reminder on how much I love this NZ tradition, you should read Twitter Secret Santa and Twitter Secret Santa – 2013 edition before reading on.

This year, just like in 2013, the super-awesome elves at NZ Post made another round of totally non-creepy gift giving to strangers possible.

Obviously we signed up everyone who is on Twitter in this household (myself, Kai, Ingrid the chicken and Max the cat). We were each assigned another person on Twitter in November, and spent a good amount of time observing our people to make sure we’d get them the perfect present.

Which brings me to the downsides of this year’s round. Let’s get that out of the way first.

We’re no longer inside the crafty/happy/supportive/creative bubble Twitter Secret Santa once was

Just to be clear: I love, love, love Twitter Secret Santa. The elves at NZ Post are doing an amazing job, and without them this mission of spreading joy and happiness up and down the country would not be possible, especially given the current number of participants. More than 2600 people signed up this year, there is no way a single private person would have been able to coordinate these efforts.

In fact, I love the elves sooo much, that when I had the chance to meet one of them through work, I had to restrain myself from jumping up and down in joy right in front of them; I even almost gave them a hug. Should I ever be without work in November/December I want to be a volunteer elf (if they’d take volunteers that is). This is how much I love the whole thing and everyone involved. But there’s a but.

Enormous expectations

When Twitter Secret Santa started people joined in for the magic, the joy, the receiving AND the giving. The recommended amount to spend on your person was initially $5 and later $10 – if your person was generous you’d be very grateful, but there was no expectation of big expensive presents.

Nowadays it seems that for a lot of people it’s no longer about trusting that people will find something nice for them – instead they tweet a wish list. Often people listed presents that would exceed the recommended $10 quite substantially: iPhone 5 cases, mobile phones, concert tickets, big holidays. I can’t even imagine how someone on a budget might feel when they read that their santa person would prefer to get a gift from Spark or Air New Zealand rather than something personal.

Puzzling silence

But hey, those that tweeted their wish list at least tweeted something. The number of people signing up and not tweeting anything at all is quite concerning. If there are no tweets during the Secret Santa present preparation period, the giver wonders if they should buy a present straight for the City Mission (that’s where presents for ‘bad Santas’ go – whoever doesn’t send a gift won’t receive one either, it will be donated).

Giving to someone who doesn’t reveal anything about themselves means you’ll have to get something generic like random chocolates. Boring for the giver, disappointing for the recipient. And if you don’t even get a thank you and never learn if your recipient liked their gift, it’s even more frustrating. I guess the worst one in this category was the person who deleted their account before the gift was even received:

Tweet from Craig Stanton: Well that's really lame. The person I did #nzsecretsanta for only opened their account when it started, sent 8 tweets, and closed it already.

Bad giving

Luckily there are a number of great sponsors on board again this year so those with bad Santas (who didn’t send a present) will still get something nice. So far I’ve seen Cookie Time cookies, fancy chocolate and Mojo coffee. But I’ve also seen presents where you can only wonder: “What were they thinking?”.

For example the used foot scrub. Later it turned out that it had even expired in August 2012:

Tweet by Shani McLean: "So I opened my SS thinking it would be wrapped it wasnt #nobigdeal I got opened footscrub #nzsecretsanta"

Or the random three chocolate bars, that weren’t even wrapped. Better than nothing, you might think? Well, the recipient has allergies, so she can’t even eat the lame gift. If it wasn’t for the cat food in the picture I’d say they never ever read a single one of her tweets.

Tweet by Pixie: "*sigh* a lil disappointed at my #nzsecretsanta parcel not wrapped & nothing I can enjoy due to allergies"

I just skimmed through her stream back to early November and have about 5 ideas of good presents for her (without even thinking about it at all). Not even trying to be nice to such an easy to buy/craft for person is simply wrong.

I was also a bit horrified by the present the Young Nats sent out: John Key’s biography. It wasn’t even signed. I hope they considered their person’s political views and would have sent something else if they were an obvious supporter of another party. I’m just glad they weren’t assigned anyone in my household.

These inconsiderate Santas really spoil the fun. Not only for the people who get these unthoughtful presents, but also for those that just follow the #nzsecretsanta hashtag on Twitter – we sympathise with them and feel sad they were let down by someone who may have just received a perfect gift for themselves.

Everything (else) is awesome

Luckily these bad Santas are still quite rare in comparison. The majority of tweets show wonderful people receiving perfect personalised presents from thoughtful strangers.

I’m glad I’m part of such a great community. However, I’m also glad we got awesome presents this year (at least the ones we’ve already received). Read more about them in part 2 of this post: Twitter Secret Santa 2014 – Unwrapping awesomeness.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Chris December 5, 2016 at 9:59 am

And @websam, the originator of NZ Secret Santa has a weekly podcast if anyone is into that sort of thing.

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