Secret Santa has onliners a-twitter

In this case online stalking is encouraged

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 09:00 21/12/2013

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Palmerston North's Chrissie Morrison and Mark Inman reckon they probably put more effort into buying for each of their online Secret Santas than anyone else this Christmas.

Yesterday they got their payoff, a gift worth about $10 from a person on Twitter in New Zealand they will likely never meet.

In 2010, Sam Elton-Walters started a Secret Santa on Twitter using the handle @nzsecretsanta. It got so big New Zealand Post took on the project this year and 1500 Kiwi Twitter users signed up - about 100 of them from the Manawatu.

NZ Secret Santa feeds off Twitter. Every participant gives a gift and everyone receives one, with participants encouraged to "stalk" each other's profiles to help guide them on the perfect gift.

It has its challenges. One Twitter user in Manawatu had randomly drawn controversial internet mogul Kim Dotcom from the ballot. What do you get a billionaire for $10?

Mr Inman's Secret Santa was a little less well-known, and gave him some hand protector and a charity reindeer Christmas decoration.

"I'm not quite sure what I said online that made them think of this," he said, laughing. "There were a few photos online of me moving rocks around the garden so maybe that was the reason for the hand cream. It was wrapped really nicely though."

Ms Morrison's Secret Santa was a bit more perceptive. She got a book of vegetarian recipes, a voucher book for cafes and entertainment venues in Palmerston North, Whittakers chocolate and a card.

"Whoever they are, they definitely stalked my Twitter," she said. "The recipes will be from when I announced I was going vegetarian for a month and needed help cooking. I posted the other day that I hadn't eaten chocolate this year so that'll be where that came from."

New Zealand Post Online manager Rob Holmes said there was a desire to carry on with NZ Secret Santa next year and they would sit down after all the joy had died down and assess if it was possible.

"I think it's a brilliant idea. It could become pretty huge."

The best gifts given had been ones that were personally made and some had put hours of work into getting it right, Mr Holmes said.

"We've seen all sorts but as an example there was one Secret Santa chasing Quade Cooper in Australia to get his signature for the person they were giving the gift to. The way it's set up it seems to force people to drop the adult side of Christmas and just behave like kids all over again."

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- Manawatu Standard

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