Ho ho ho! Welcome to Christmas…it’s a little early but welcome nonetheless.
This year’s Secret Santa registration has been manic to say the least. In the space of the last seven days, we increased our player count by over two hundred and closed registration just a few hours ago with a grant total of 779 players in 46 countries.
On behalf of myself and special helper elf Aislinn, thank you all so much!
This year’s player count makes EMULSIVE Santa 2017 nearly seven times larger than 2015’s inaugural event and around 1.5 times larger than 2016. If we keep this up, then we should easily see over 1000 players in 2018…but I’ll try not to get ahead of myself.
With registration for this year’s event closed, it’s time to give you all a quick recap and let you know what’s next. There’s lots of very important information in this article, so please go ahead and bookmark this page to make it easier to come back to if you have any questions about:

Be sure to follow @EMULSIVEsanta on Twitter and tag all of your tweets and Facebook / Instagram posts with #EMULSIVEsanta17.
Let’s dive in.

Matching with other players

As of this moment, we’re jumping through a few hoops before making the final draw. On that subject, each of player will be added to and drawn from a specific pool as follows:

  • Pool 1: players willing to ship internationally
  • Pool 2: players not willing to ship internationally
  • Pool 3: players with incomplete profiles

The last pool is very important.
Over the past month or so, Aislinn and I have been sending reminder emails to all players with incomplete profiles – missing addresses, profile pictures, or wish lists. As of today, there are still approximately 50 players in this pool. I previously noted that players with incomplete profiles will be removed but I’ve made the decision to keep them and match them only amongst themselves. Why?
Looking through the list, there are a number of names I recognise and it’s likely that one or more of them are reading this article. I know these people, I interact with them on social media and they have been past participants of other Secret Santa events, even past EMULSIVE interviewees.
For one reason or another they, and others have not received, or acted upon the reminder emails. Life gets busy and as I have no easy way of stripping those people I know to be “good” players from the rest, the most sensible approach seems to be to have everyone who falls into my “incomplete” group play amongst themselves.
That said, players from the third pool will not be covered in any efforts to make up for “Bad Santas” in this year’s event. Call it the risk taker’s group, if you will.

The draw

The draw for this year’s event will likely take place on Tuesday 21st or Wednesday 22nd November. If you are unable to participate in the event please LET ME KNOW ASAP. I cannot make any changes after the draw takes place.
Once you have details of your match (by email from Elfster), please send them a message via Elfster, confirm their mailing address, find out a little about what they want. Remember that you’ll know who you’re sending a gift to but they won’t know who you are until they receive it. More on gift-giving a bit later on.

Sponsors and sponsor gifts

If you’ve been following along, here on the website and social media, you’ll know that there are a couple of sponsors that haven’t been named as of yet. I’m happy to do so here.
The 15 sponsors for EMULSIVE Santa 17 are:
Billingham: billingham.co.uk
Camera Film Photo: Camera Film Photo
Carmencita Lab: carmencitalab.com
Dubble: dubblefilm.com
Eastman Kodak Company: kodak.com
FILM Ferrania: FILM Ferrania
ILFORD: ilfordphoto.com
Kodak Alaris: kodakalaris.com
Kosmo Foto: kosmofoto.com
Japan Camera Hunter: japancamerahunter.com
Parallax Coop: parallaxphotographic.coop
Silberra Film: Silberra Film
Shoot Film Co: shootfilmco.com
Solarcan: solarcan.co.uk
Ultrafine: ultrafineonline.com
Unlike last year, I’m not going to announce the individual sponsor gifts but you can be sure of LOTS of film, maybe a magazine or two, some bags, goodies and (I hope), at least one chocolate camera.

You might be interested in...

Advice on where to buy your gifts

Both Mike Padua of Shoot Film Co and Aislinn Chuahiock of Film Folk have put together guides covering what kind of Christmas gifts to think about for film lovers and where to source them. Check out those links for inspiration.
On the subject of gifts, please don’t send promotional items such as your own photo books, mugs and coasters. If you want to send one of your own prints, please do so but make sure they’re personalized and not just from dusty sack in the corner of your laundry room.
There’s no upper limit on the value of what you decide to send but please make sure that it’s worth at least US$10 and functional. Your gift could be something you’ve had lurking in your freezer, for a while, or brand new. It’s up to you.
Speaking of which, to the unnamed participant last year who had a disposable camera sent from an online drug store: touché for staying within the letter but not the spirit of the Secret Santa guidelines.

Preparing and sending your gift

We’re asking that everyone sends their gifts out by December 4th 2017 at the very latest. That gives you a little under two weeks of preparation after the draw is made. Christmas time means that postal services will be busy, so the earlier the better.
Speed is of the essence but please don’t simply throw you gift in a box and be done with it. Also, if you arrange for your gift to be drop shipped (if you buy it online), please let the merchant know it’s a gift and please don’t just spend the minimum $10 on the gift including shipping (see above).
We’re all in this as a community, so try to wrap your gift in some nice paper if you can. Write a note, send a card, put a rosette on it, drop in some local candy and treats (especially if you’re shipping internationally).
In short: Get. In. The. Spirit!
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out last year’s hashtag: #EMULSIVEsanta2016.
Package your gift responsibly and in the same manner you’d hope to receive something yourself. Use bubble wrap, newspaper, a succession of increasingly larger boxes. Use whatever it takes to get your gift to your match in the best possible condition and make sure it’s secured well. We had at least two instances last year where packages were received empty after being tampered with in transit.
Don’t worry about keeping your identity secret when you post your gift. The idea is that people shouldn’t know who is sending a gift until they receive it. After that, it’s all fair game.
IMPORTANT: When you send your gift, get proof of postage and/or tracking and mark “EMULSIVE Santa” on it somewhere. The latter isn’t absolutely necessary but proof of postage is essential. If your parcel gets lost, it’ll help.

Receiving your gift

Once you receive your gift, resist the urge to open it past the first layer and please do not open it until Christmas Day. I can’t stress that enough; the joy of seeing everyone open their gifts on via social media on Christmas Day is one of the things that makes all the stress worth while for me.
If wrapped as per the guide above, you might be able to open the box it came in without spoiling the surprise. Please take a photo and share it on social media using the #EMULSIVEsanta17 hashtag. If you’re on Twitter, please use the hashtag and tag @EMULSIVEsanta, too.
Once again, please don’t open the actual gift and card/note/letter (if there is one) until December 25th. When you finally to take the wrapping off, please share, share, share.
We had some wonderful acts of generosity and love last year and would love to see as much as possible. Here are a few posts from last year’s event.


It’s no big deal if you’re stuck thinking about what to give. Reach out to the community and ask. Have a think about the kind of things that you’d like to receive yourself and remember, it’s not all about spending money. There are other ways to spread the love of film photography.
If you’re really stuck, are having issues getting in touch with your match please email secret.santa.help@emulsive.org, or drop me a line via Elfster.

Guidelines and etiquette

Just like the previous two events, EMULSIVE Secret Santa 2017 is being arranged in good faith and your actions reflect on yourself, EMULSIVE and the good name of the film photography community.
In short, if you don’t intend on sending anything, don’t play.
If the draw has already been made and you decide to back out, GET IN TOUCH ASAP to let us know. Situations change and we’ll figure something out.
That said, any player found to be receiving but not sending a gift, not contacting EMULSIVE to remedy the situation, or simply not responding to requests for clarification on the status of their participation after draw/receipt will be publicly named and barred from entry into future events organised by both EMULSIVE and this year’s sponsors. You can check this article to see a list of last year’s Bad Santa’s.
Again, if you decide not to play, get in touch.
Now that’s all out of the way, it’s time for you to get picking and packing, folks!
Good luck with everything, please help spread the word and most important of all, have fun.

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About the author

Avatar - EM

Founder, overlord, and editor-in-chief at EMULSIVE.org. I may be a benevolent gestalt entity but contrary to increasingly popular belief, I am not an AI.

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  1. I feel like an idiot but I cannot figure out where to set a profile picture, where to create a wishlist, or even find where to log in. I created the account easy enough but everything is now hidden.

        1. Just to further explain and broadcast my confusion. I was looking here at emulsive.org instead of elfster.com. Because I hadn’t had my coffee, and I’m sticking to that story.

  2. Ah man, I didn’t know I needed to set a profile picture before midnight on the 19th ☹️ I just heard about it on the analog talk podcast. I just updated, hopefully I didn’t get disqualified!