The annual EMULSIVE Secret Santa event will always be a display of the analog community’s unspoken commitment to support one another. No matter where or what our circumstances are at this point, the Secret Santa is a wholesome way of concluding the year with some kindness and a whole lot of happiness.
Sure there will always be the rare bad apple, which we will try to eradicate this year, but the enormous display generosity will always outweigh the hiccups. Full disclosure: I’m helping EM out with managing this year’s event as “Special Elf” 🙂
Last year was a HUUUGGEE success and played out in hilarious fashion in Twitter. I’ve put this article together as a retrospective of sorts. If you’re already signed up to play, maybe it’ll give you a few ideas of what you could do for this year’s event. If you’re not already signed up, I hope this article sufficiently inspires you!

The order of things…

The most loyal and enthusiastic folks who participated in Secret Santa will always be bound to a very specific shared experience that plays out against a series of emotional landmarks. Here were mine for 2010:

September: I signed up, yey!

The initial excitement of putting your name in the registry and reminiscing about last year’s swap makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. Unanimously, everyone agrees that THIS is the only valid reason to start thinking about Christmas in September.

October: research phase

“I wonder who’s joining?”… “I wonder what’s everyone wishing for?”… If you’re that percentile who’s following EMULSIVE on Twitter, you do understand that around mid-October, the hype is building up and exciting sponsors are announced. Also, guys! Start working on those wish lists!

November: teasers

You know the draw is coming. People are now starting to post teasers of what they’ll be sending. You start searching deep in your soul and ask yourself, “What shall I give?”, “What box should I use?”, “Hmmmm…wrapping paper? No wrapping paper?”, you take a peek at your film fridge, and you start looking at shopping sites.

The draw: all hell broke loose

It was all calm and rainbows then all of a sudden, the event became an exhibition of wrapping. Boys and girls are trying to outdo each other with their creative use of recycled paper, glitter, ribbons, confetti, yesterday’s newspaper, candy, alcohol, aluminum foil, audio visual presentations, containers, flat-lays, and the best of all: piles and piles of film. Gifts are so well thought of you’d think they knew their partners since childbirth.

Santa 2016 retrospective - Wrapping up
Santa 2016 retrospective – Wrapping up


The send off

You give your gift one last loving look, a blessing, a short prayer to the Film Gods, and it’s off to the mail. You plaster your box with all sorts of labels “Do Not Xray”, “Do Not Bend”, “Thank you Mr. Postman”, “Merry Christmas”, “EMULSIVE Secret Santa”, “Do Not Open Until Christmas”, “Fragile”, “Shoot Film”…

Santa 2016 retrospective - The send off
Santa 2016 retrospective – The send off


The wait

…is probably the most painful part of the whole journey. Tweets about ambushing their postman everyday, their dogs’ spidey senses tingling upon anticipating the arrival, finally receiving their gifts, placing it under the tree, accidentally mistaking the box for your amazon purchase, or the weakest or the weak will just simply open their gifts before Christmas (bbooooooo!!!).

Santa 2016 retrospective - Receiving
Santa 2016 retrospective – Receiving

I received my gift just at New Years which I did not mind as I knew international mail can be tricky around that time of year. I really loved what I received! It was a very sweet way to kick off 2017.

2016’s greatest hits

Amanda and Dan

Here are some of the most memorable exchanges from 2016’s event, including the the much coveted Leica M3 from Mr Dan K, aka Twitter’s ZDP189.

Santa 2016 retrospective
Santa 2016 retrospective

I reached out to Amanda Gordon, who was the recipient of the gorgeous Leica M3, and asked her how she was doing a year later. Her response was: 
“I can never thank Dan enough, a generous, lovely bloke! And for EM for organizing not only the event but for creating a place where the great film photography community can get lots of tips and reviews! Hopefully (now my knee is on the mend and dissertation is done!) I can really start shooting lots and lots of film through my beautiful Leica! It will definitely be used to create some photographs for my MA’s final body of work and for so many future projects. After getting such a fantastic gift I told EM that it was my intention to put a gift a month aside for this years SS. It will never be as generous as the gift I received (poor student!) but hopefully my little Christmas photo hamper will put a smile on my recipients face!”
– Amanda Gordon


Adib and Johan

Another pairing we really enjoyed was the Adib Mufty (Lebanon) / Johan Igelström (Sweden) tadem. Adib went ALL OUT with a video presentation and challenged Johan to some very specific tests. Adib shared his experience:
“We are used to participating in Secret Santa events at work, with colleagues and friends. And EMULSIVE Secret Santa was a one-of-a-kind experience. Matching and connecting people from different countries, ideologies, background together for two simple causes: Christmas spirit and the love of film photography. 

Santa 2016 retrospective - Adib and Johan
Santa 2016 retrospective – Adib and Johan

I remember I received my gift early January. From 24 December till first week of January, I was anxious just like a kid waiting for Christmas. It wasn’t about the gift itself. It was about the whole experience. The lovely thing about last year’s experience was the connection between the community on Twitter, although you don’t meet anyone in person, everyone is interacting with one another and sharing all their gifts and updates. To cut it short.. IT WAS SUPER FUN… can’t wait for this year’s EMULSIVE Secret Santa!”
– Adib Mufty


Joan and Pierluigi

Joan Arkham was the recipient of an all-EMULSIVE gift-wrapped package from Pierluigi Tolu. She said, “I participated in my first EMULSIVE Secret Santa last year, although I’d done swaps in other online groups in the past. I have to say I was really impressed with my swap package from Italy! I received tons of new and expired film, mysterious equipment (I later figured out it was a 35mm film retriever), and an Italian chocolate fruitcake.

Santa 2016 retrospective - Joan
Santa 2016 retrospective – Joan

I was also lucky enough to get matched with a sponsor, and received some beautiful CineStill film. I think the EMULSIVE community is great, and I’m looking forward to participating again!”
– Joan Arkham

A great many happy stories flowed through the @EMULSIVEsanta Twitter feed all the way up the end of Q1 of 2016.
Have you signed up for EMULSIVE Secret Santa 2017? You still have tons of time, just register using this form (also embedded below):

Registration closes on November 19, 2017 at midnight. We want everyone to know that no matter how your 2017 is going, the community is here and will always be on hand to put happiness under your Christmas Tree.
Here’s more of our favorites! Enjoy and we’ll see you soon.
~ Aislinn

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