Have you ever taken part in a secret santa? It’s a staple of most school yards and offices around the world, and is a great way to spread some Christmas cheer without breaking the bank. Simply put, everyone adds their names into a hat, picks someone out, and buys a gift just for them from ‘Santa’. It’s a great idea, but, do you know what’s better? The Broke and The Bookish Secret Santa (TBTB Santa). Hosted by Jamie from The Broke and The Bookish, the TBTB Secret Santa is a huge secret santa for the bookish blogging and online communities.
There are 3 levels to enter, and you fill out a long questionnaire that helps your Santa buy books and goodies for you.
a) 1 book and a small gift/candy
b) 1-2 books and a couple goodies
c) 2+ books and goodies
Once Jamie has collected all of the names, they’re split back out, and you have lots of fun patrolling the twitter tag, buying and wrapping gifts, and eagerly awaiting your parcel to arrive. Obviously, as someone who has never taken part, I dived right in with option 3 and decided to go big and go home. It turned out to be a great decision!
I actually really like buying gifts for people. I don’t buy into the whole giving presents is so much better than receiving them, but I probably get as much joy from watching someone open a gift I’ve thought about and put effort into as I do from opening my own presents. My recipient Ellen sent an awesome questionnaire that really let me get inside her head. I felt like I knew her well once I had read through it, and instantly began thinking of all of the things I could buy for her. It took a little while for me to choose the books after a wishlist error, but once I had it, I ordered everything I wanted, and began the fun task of wrapping and fitting it all into boxes.
Now, I would like to say right now that I am not actually a cheap skate, but, I found out that it would cost less (considerably less) to post the parcels as two boxes. So, upon realising this, I split the items up into books and goodies, and bought some more things to go in (I’d just rather spend the money on gifts than postage!) After painstakingly wrapping, tagging, tying, and playing tetris to get everything to fit into the boxes, they were ready to go. There was an element of letting go of something precious when I handed them over to the post man, but they’ve gone. I just hope Ellen likes them, I really tried to get it right!
This week I received a mysterious note through the door stating that I had missed a parcel. I hadn’t ordered anything, certainly nothing that wouldn’t fit through the door. I felt the excitement grow, and bounded off to the post office as soon as it said I could. It coincided with a difficult and emotional day, and receiving the box was just what I needed. Emma (my friend, housemate, and fellow Santa) also received a note through, but because of the vagaries of the British Postal system, didn’t get her box until the next day. The box lifted my spirits, but to truly appreciate the wonders inside, I waited 24hrs until my spirits were lifted, and we could open our boxes together.
My Santa left a cryptic card at the top of the box, stating that she hoped I could work out who it was once I began opening the presents. I had a little bit of an idea who it might be, simply from online stalking, but realistically only had it narrowed down to 3 or 4 people. Let me start by saying that the care and detail of the wrapping alone was amazing, and the paper. Well, I like a dinosaur or 6, and the paper itself was covered in dinosaurs wearing Santa hats, so she was immediately off to a winner. I’ll try and run through some, if not all of the awesome gifts in there:
This is a Bookish secret Santa, so I think it is only right that we start with the books. The first 3 books came with adorable little cards that had nice little messages from my Santa on them as well:
Satellite by Nick Lake I think it was pretty fitting that this was in the box. I placed this book on my wishlist because I saw someone online (on my twitter and wordpress) reading it. We like similar books, and have spoken about Sci-Fi books before, so I thought ‘If Jenn likes it, I’ll probably like it’. When she gave it such a good review, I put it as high priority. Turns out, the wonderful, generous, beautiful, amazing Jenn was actually my Santa. I mean, c’mon, what an awesome coincidence, amiright? She also seems to know me well enough to warn me about the unusual formatting! TIA. (P.S. You should all go an follow her on twitter @JennieLy and on her blog: Jenniely)
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter I’m not sure I can actually explain why I want to read this so much. I do like thrillers, and it definitely falls into that category, so there’s that, but I think it was seeing it everywhere during Comic Con, seeing great reviews, liking the cover, and really liking Krysten Ritter’s acting work. I know that 3 of those 4 things don’t indicate anything about it or whether it’s actually something I want to read, but I did, and was very pleased when I saw it arrive.
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James I’ve seen this book in Waterstones, and every time I go in with Emma, I comment on the pretty cover. I had never actually picked it up, and I don’t know what it’s about, but the card that came with it from Jenn said ”It was one of my favourite reads of 2017! It’s not at all what you expect, I read it in one sitting & hope you love it as much as I do!’ I mean, c’mon, how could I not want to read it after that recommendation!
Nyxia by Scott Reintgen I have to say that I know nothing about this book, and I had never heard of it, but since my box has arrived I swear everyone seems to be reading it on my twitter. From the description, it sounds like it has the competitive dystopian air of Hunger Games, but on an intergalactic space level. I mean how awesome does that sound. It also look as though it’s going to be the first in a trilogy…
Moonrise by Sarah Crossan Once again, I am being introduced to a new author, and this time, a new style of writing. This is actually a signed ARC, which is so awesome! I’ve never read anything in verse, and if I am honest I’m both excited and apprehensive about, but after researching the author I am only hearing and seeing great things, so I’m looking forward to giving Moonrise a go!
Welsh touches The lovely Jenn is from Wales, and in the box she included some local things to her and that she had made. There were two adorable and amazing Christmas tree decorations that have pride of place on my tree, and there was some Halen Môn salt. For me, this might have been the most touching thing in the whole box. I have been posting regularly about my weight loss efforts, so this little gift really meant a lot and made me really feel like Jenn cared!
Little bit of Tea I love a good cup of tea, who doesn’t, amiright? Well, clearly my Santa agreed with me, because I got a lovely tea set. I say set, it was create dby her and included a Manatea, two flavoured loose leaf tea pouches, and a festive mug (complete with matching socks!). I have wanted a loose leaf tea holder for months, ever since Emma showed me the Manatea, and Jenn treated me, along with some flavoured loose leaf tea. Can’t wait to try it over Christmas in my Christmas Mug!
Socks and Space I am one of those rare people who actually both likes and wants to receive socks for Christmas. Every year I tell my Mum that I want some festive socks, and it’s well known amongst my friends that I am proud of my sock collection. By golly did Santa deliver. The was a sock filled mug, Christmas owls, dinosaurs, and cute prints, and they are super comfy because I couldn’t wait to wear them. I also love space and all space related things, so the moon light up lamp was a fun and cute little present.
Bookish treats There was also a little selection of bookish merch that was wrapped in little adorable pouches featuring pin badges and samples from different authors. I haven’t read any of the books that the merch is from, but the snippets I’ve read on the cards and the information I have seen online have made me want to read their works. Emma – blame Jenn if I suddenly buy up lots of books (well, more than usual) and start to take over the house!
I really wasn’t sure what to make of TBTB Santa when I signed up. I took a punt because I liked the sound of it, but was a little unsure about how it would all work and whether it would be worth it over all. I think, for a start, I completely underestimated how fun it would be to actually buy a fellow bibliophile bookish related gifts and put together a parcel. I absolutely loved it, and it occupied much of my time for a couple of weeks. I also loved opening such a thoughtful and touching box. I am super lucky that a) Jenn was already a friend, and b) that she is so awesome for putting together such an incredible and touching box. Once again, THANK YOU!
If you’ve not taken part before and thought about it, or want to do it in the future, I’d definitely advise it. There is lots of information on The Broke and Bookish or under the TBTBSanta Hashtag on twitter.
Merry Christmas everyone!