More new things and some things to note

­­Happy Monday, Santas!



In the lead up to this year’s sign ups, we thought it’d be worth doing a longer form post on some more of the changes we’ve made this year.

Include a CanTeen Christmas card with your gift


When we go live and you’re all set with what you’re buying for your Santa, you will have the option to include a lovely Canteen Christmas card with your gift. All you need to do is go here, add your personal message (which will be hand-written into the card by the CanTeen Elves) and pop in your Twitter handle and your giftee’s Twitter handle into the box in the checkout form. We’ll handle the rest. Easy as.

All profits from this go directly to CanTeen and will help fund the amazing work CanTeen does with kids living with cancer, all over New Zealand.

Super Secret Santas!


As in previous years, we’re putting the call out for people to put their hands up to be a Super Secret Santa.

What’s a Super Secret Santa?

Super Secret Santas are people who volunteer to be on call to buy extra gifts if we don’t have enough to go around. When people are Bad Santas, it throws our numbers out of whack. What should be 1 + 1, is now 1 + 0 and we need it to be 1 + 1 for the game to work. This is also why we have the Bad Santa Gift Stash (shout out to our amazing sponsors once more!), but some years the Bad Santas outnumber the gifts in the Bad Santa Gift Stash. We’re hoping that’s not the case this year, but just in case, if you’d like to be a Super Secret Santa, you can sign up to do so at registration.

This is not an obligation for everyone playing; this is just for those who want to go above and beyond for the game this year. We will need to call on you fairly last minute because we won’t know numbers until everything is in the storehouse, but you will be forever loved by the Elves and we might send you something special as a thank you.

Twitter block lists


Though in NZ Secret Santa HQ we like to think that everyone gets along all the time and NZ Twitter is all spring lambs and sharing Pineapple Lumps, we’re aware this isn’t always the case and people who play may have blocked other people who also play. So to save you the awkwardness of getting someone you’ve blocked, and to save us the time of trying to rematch you (it throws our system off a bit), we’ve now integrated Twitter block lists into the game.

The process is semi-automated. When you gain access to the NZ Secret Santa dashboard, there’ll be a link that allows you to import your block list with the game. Click the link and voila!

If you have people you specifically don’t want to be a Santa for, but also don’t want to block (e.g. family, pets, colleagues, second Twitter accounts) that’s fine – just drop us an email ( and we’ll add those to the system manually.

Gifts for CanTeeners


Are you feeling like a charitable Santa this year? Then we want you! Our partner charity CanTeen will be receiving all the gifts intended for Bad Santas (after being vetted for appropriateness by the Elves), but we’re hoping to get some extra presents for the CanTeeners too.

Here’s the wishlist CanTeen has given us:

  • Colouring in books and pencils
  • DVDs
  • Food (chocolates/bags of lollies)
  • Nail polish
  • Body products (moisturiser/soap/hand creams)
  • Bed Socks/socks
  • Magazines
  • Small motivational wall Art pieces
  • Magnet holders for photos etc
  • Candles
  • Itunes gift card
  • Headwear (Caps, Hats, Beanies)
  • T-Shirts
  • Hair products
  • Wallets / Card holders
  • Cool stationery (e.g. fluffy pens)
  • Eye brow pencils
  • Photo frames
  • DIY art kits
  • Key rings
  • Posters (gaming, boy bands)
  • Playing cards
  • Mobile phone top up vouchers
  • Headphones
  • Diaries or Journals

If sending a gift for CanTeen as well, please label it clearly (To @CanTeenNZ, from @[yourTwitterhandle]) so that the Elves know which present is for your Santa and which is for charity.

That’s all from the Elves for now, but we’ll be touching base again pretty soon.


Libby, Aj & the Elves

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#nzsecretsanta 2016 is L-I-V-E

Hello Santas!

The snazzy redesigned site is now live with dates over at – Check it out!


Similarly to last year, registrations will be open for TWO WEEKS (November 10 until November 24) and there will be no extensions! Make sure you get in and sign up as early as possible and don’t forget to spread the word!

We’ll send everyone who played last year an email the day before we open registrations, just so everyone knows!

This year, we’ve changed up the way we approach the Bad Santa Gift Stash, as well – we’ve got a TON of awesome sponsors who have given us stuff from vouchers to brownie makers, T-Shirts to Chromecasts for free – check out some of the awesome folks involved over at

You can also see a bit more detail about how the process works behind the scenes.

There’s a few new things this year, which you’ll come across after signing up, but one thing we can talk about now is……….

Matching magic

There’s a super complex algorithm that takes care of the randomisation and matching of players when that time comes around. This year, we made it slightly more complex and even more algorithmic (it’s a word, we swear) to match players with more persuasion based on the history of the player. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Played in previous years or has never played
  • Been a Good or Bad Santa in previous years
  • Has been a Super Secret Santa in previous years

And, with the hope that more folks will use tracking:

  • Has tracked their parcel to Santa’s Storehouse in previous years

All of these factors, and more, will contribute to the matching process with a view (hope) that the groups of players being matched will be more similar in their history, allowing Consistently Good Santas to be matched with such and New Santas to be matched with New Santas.

As much as we’re not trying to ‘play God’ here; we recognise the fact that a significant number of long-time players have expressed outrage over us not restricting sign-ups based on Tweet count and Protected Account status. We hope this will go some way to assuaging these concerns.

Finally…for now…

Community spirit and being a “Good Santa”


We feel this is a good time to remind everyone about the ‘Rules of the game’ both written (here: and unwritten. More so, the unwritten rules look something like this (making them written, I guess…):

  1. Don’t be an egg
  2. Don’t judge people based on their lifestyle, occupation or how they interact on Twitter
  3. Signing up to #nzsecretsanta means you’re committing to buying a gift for a stranger – if you’re not sure that you’ll be able to cope with some of the diverse people that inhabit the NZ Twittersphere, let us know who, specifically, you won’t feel comfortable buying for BEFORE November 24th and we’ll do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen
  4. Be grateful for what you get, even if it’s not something you want/like/will use/can re-gift.  The main purpose of #nzsecretsanta is to *give* a gift. Obviously it follows that you’ll also receive one, but we come at this thing from the angle of “Giving makes the world go around” and think everyone else should; too.

As usual, if you have questions, concerns or just want to yell at us because we’re destroying your favorite thing, please get in touch – @nzsecretsanta on Twitter or if you want to chat in longer-form.

Happy Wednesday (unless you’re reading this on _any_ other day, then Happy That Day)!

Aj, Libby & The Elves

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New Tracking!

We are very excited to announce the arrival of our brand new Tracking tool. We’re releasing it progressively throughout the day, so everyone should have the pleasure of using it by Friday morning at the latest.

For those counting, this is the 4th major iteration of the Tracking tool.

Tracking is the second most-used service on our website, so needless to say we get a lot of feedback. Some of this feedback relates to courier delivery, which unfortunately we can’t do anything about. Courier vans aren’t made of pixels.

Fortunately, there is plenty of feedback that we can do something about. Here’s the top 3…

“I want to see my parcel’s location”

This is the number one request, by quite a margin. And fair enough, too. We’ve told you that your parcel is in a depot, but which one? Knowing the location reassures you that your precious parcel is making progress, and let’s be honest, it’s just pretty interesting. Or is that just me? 🤓

Either way, you can now see where your parcel is…


…and where it’s been.


In some cases you’ll even get to see the most recent tracking event on a map!



“I want to see an ETA”

Number two on our list of common requests is an estimated time of arrival. This one is a little trickier for us, as we’re somewhat reliant on the operational side of the business sorting this out. But rest assured they’re working on it, and we’ll be updating Tracking as soon as better information becomes available. That said, we’ve made a start.


Some parcels will now show an estimated day of delivery. At the moment, you’ll see this most often with parcels sent on a courier service. The estimate will take into account non-delivery days (like Sundays and public holidays) which should take out some of the guesswork.

And in the interests of helping you understand where your parcel is in its journey, we’ve also developed a progress bar (of sorts).



“I don’t understand the status meaning”

In depot!

What does it all mean?

The truth is, these statuses were originally created for internal use and were never expected to see the light of day. But times have changed, and since they’re out there on the internets, they need to make sense to humans.

We’ve painstakingly edited all 140 statuses (yes, 140!) and tried to make them as user-friendly as possible. We hope it helps.


Anything else?

Those are the top 3 issues we’ve responded to, but there’s heaps more.

Delivery options

We’ve tried to make it more obvious when your parcel is going to require a signature. Sometimes you don’t get a choice in the matter, and it’s useful to know so you can avoid getting that yellow card in your letterbox.


If your parcel requires a signature and you won’t be home to provide one, you now have some options at your fingertips.


General redesign

The Tracking List page (where you track all your parcels) and the Tracking Detail page (where you take a closer look at a particular parcel) have been extensively redesigned and re-jigged. We’ve been through several rounds of user-testing (yes, with real people!) and learned a lot, so hopefully we’re on the right track.


Near enough 50% of users access Tracking from a phone or a tablet now, so as part of the redesign we’ve put a bit more emphasis on the mobile experience.




We’ve made a new Tracking tool. We’re pretty proud of it, and we hope you like it.

We’re constantly tweaking and iterating, so please continue to give us your feedback here or on our social channels.

Happy Tracking! 👋


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Meetings, you-tings and new-things!

Hello lovely Elfish/Santeasers/Jelves (that’s Jandaled Elves)/Santinis, et al.

As alluded to on Twitter – things are becoming very real, very quickly. Thankfully, it’s also still very early. You can read more about our super-organised organisation of NZ Secret Santa here:

We have a few things we want to talk about! First up, my favorite ….

Charity involvement

As you may (or may not!) know, every year that NZ Post have facilitated NZ Secret Santa, we’ve teamed up with a charity to try and spread the happiness beyond the realms of the Twittersphere and into a place with real need.

This year, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be teaming up with @CanTeenNZ who’ll benefit from our (sadly) inevitable Bad Santa gifts but we’ll also be trying a few cool new things with their help. One of these will be, similar to previous years, the option to send an ‘extra’ gift to charity. The idea as it currently stands is that when you sign up for #nzsecretsanta this year, you’ll be given a few more options than usual which will allow you to decide how super of a Secret Santa you wish to be. That’s all I’ll say for now, but more on this later.

We’re also introducing…

A snazzy new design!

With the help of our visual designer, we’re bringing a new coat of paint to NZ Secret Santa and we think you’ll really like it. You can check out a sneak-peak in our Twitter header image:

And, finally, we’d like to remind you:



In case you were unaware, it’s only 111 sleeps until Christmas! Which means it’s even less than that until registrations open for NZ Secret Santa 2016! (Between you, me and the fencepost – we’re pretty sure this is gonna be the most awesome one yet!)


See you on the flippity-flop!

Aj, Libby & The Elves

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Why are you talking about Christmas already!?

So, if you follow @nzsecretsanta on Twitter (you’re awesome!), then you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been a bit more active than usual; especially since it’s August and we’ve been prattling on for a couple of months already.

If you don’t follow @nzsecretsanta on Twitter, you should. We’re awesome.

The reason we’re making so much noise at this very *not* Christmas time of year is mainly because of the amount of times I had to do this last year:

Really, the most upsetting thing (up to and including the abusive messages we receive every year without fail) that happened during the mostly awesome and amazing time in last season’s game.

So, to the point! Get on with it already!

We are putting together a “Bad Santa Gift Stash” (or BSGS for short) to cover the folks who, for one reason or another, don’t get a gift sent in to the storehouse. There could be any number of reasons that a gift doesn’t arrive, but for those people who do their part and don’t “get the goods”, we’re making sure we can make up for that as much as possible.

Now, in previous years we’ve had amazing(!!!) sponsors who’ve donated massive amounts of stuff to NZ Secret Santa who’ve, for the most part, covered everyone in that boat. Last year, we didn’t. And it was stink. And I’m sorry. There’s a list of excuses I put together but you guys don’t care about that. We’re trying it a bit differently this year – aiming to get a heap of businesses to give a little bit, instead of a little bit of businesses to give heaps. We think this will work out better for everyone. Oh, you’re still waiting for me to get to the point, right?

Right. Here it is.

It’s August 15th (3 months (maybe to the day!) out from 2016 registrations opening) and we’re already all over this thing. We’ve got over 60 gifts in the Southern Storehouse (Wellington) already waiting to be sent out to people who receive a Bad Santa as part of this year’s game. I would like to say a special, individual thanks, to each and every one of the businesses and people who’ve come to the party and signed on to give us stuff already. They are:

  • @MyFoodBagNZ
  • @MightyCampers
  • @BritzCampervans
  • @whittakersnz
  • @getbeef
  • @waitomo
  • @kiwiexperience
  • @PenguinRandomNZ
  • @brothersbeernz
  • @Zealandia
  • @FoxyLustyGrover
  • @chowwellington
  • @RainbowsEndNZ
  • @KathmanduGear
  • @LeroyBettAndCo
  • @AucklandZoo
  • @weare80days
  • @AKLFestivalNZ
  • @Portlander_
  • @SweetReleaseWLG
  • @ohyoufox
  • @Phil_Tanner
  • @fullswingnz
  • @Xenojay
  • Pete’s Natural
  • @SkyCityAKL
  • @FullersFerry
  • @cheekypixienz
  • @SparkNZ
  • @nzpost
  • @CatalystNZ

We’re so massively grateful. For the most part, all of these people/organisations are giving away their products for nothing but a “thank you” and some witty banter on-the-line. Go and give them a follow, if you don’t already. These are good people.

Last, but definitely not least; if you work for (or know of) a cool Kiwi business that might be interested in being a part of the coolest, most feel good amazingness on Twitter this year, tell them to get in touch with myself (@nzsecretsanta), our Social Elf (@MrsGreatnews) or our Email Elves (just us, but in another channel – and we can have a chat.

We’re SO freakin’ excited though – I think this is going to be the best year yet!

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NZ Secret Santa 2015 – Survey results, things to ponder and my feels

First of all, thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey – you can check out the results here:

The comments on various sections of the survey have given us a lot to think about, and also some warm fuzzies – you are all amazing!

For us, the gift receiving days are always the most satisfying. Many smiles, a few tears here and there and just such amazing positivity on Twitter (which we all know is often the very opposite).

This year was super busy for me personally, because Rob couldn’t get as involved as he would’ve liked, and Alys (who ran the show the last couple of years at NZ Post) was/is on maternity leave with her little bundle of joy. Although I was flat-tack, I had an amazing time, despite not being able to play the game itself. The joy that overwhelms NZ Twitter feeds during the game is the most amazing thing to facilitate.

We’ve learnt a lot this year and hope to be able to make some big technical and logistical improvements to the game over the next 10 months. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Introducing a Points system (Giving = +1 point, not giving = -1 point and new players start on 0)
  • Changing the delivery process for items coming into the storehouse using regular mail
  • The possibility of adding regulations for minimum tweet count / activity and/or changing the matching engine for protected accounts
  • Having more people on the ground at the storehouse during critical times (i.e. gift sorting and dispatch)

None of these things are DEFINITELY going to happen, but we have a lot of work to do to keep delivering an awesome experience to some of the nicest folks in the Twitterverse.

Keep an eye on Twitter for updates.

Thanks for reading! See you again soon!

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NZ Secret Santa 2015 – Feedback

Every year, we do our best to facilitate an amazing experience for each and every player. Most of the time this works, but there is always plenty of room for improvement.

We’d like to hear what you thought of NZ Secret Santa 2015 (even if you didn’t play) so we’d love it if you could take a few minutes (roughly 5) to complete our survey: [survey closed] Results!

Your comments will remain anonymous but we will share the overall scores. When you complete the survey, you will be given a link to a page with the overall results.

Thanks guys for taking time out to give us your feedback.

Our favourite gifts and reactions

We have far too many favourites to list, but here are a small selection of gifts and reactions that put smiles firmly on our elfy faces:

This is only a very small selection of favourites – you can check out a whole lot more here:

Share your favourites with us below or through Twitter! 🙂

Thanks for reading! See you again soon!

The elves at NZ Post
Rob (^R) and Aj (^Aj)

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