Welcome to the 8th annual EMULSIVE Santa film and traditional photography gift exchange! Registration is officially open until November 13th, 2022. A huge thank you to the 850-ish players in over 50 countries who came together to participate in 2021’s 7th annual EMULSIVE Santa. It was a strange event following a stranger year but we came back bigger and stronger, and many of the gifts that were sent (and received) came with a personal touch and connection I’d missed in 2020.

More of the same this year, please!

If you participated in any one of the seven past events, please check your email now for an invite. If not, check this year’s details and sign-up at the foot of the page. Here’s what’s covered in this article:


For new players: What is EMULSIVE Santa?

It’s the world’s largest annual film/traditional photography gift exchange, and is now in its 8th year 🤯

It works just like a normal Secret Santa that you might play with your family, friends, or at work but focused on film and traditional photography.

Everyone’s name goes into a hat, and each person is matched randomly with another player, to whom they must send a gift worth at least US$20 (not including shipping).

Each player ends up with a match, and gift-giving goes around in an imaginary circle. It’s not a pairing, you are not giving a gift to the person who is buying you one.

Imagine this instead:


Event timeline and sponsors

Registration is open from today, Monday October 24th, 2022 until Sunday, November 13th, 2022.

No exceptions, I’m afraid.

Player matching is planned to be completed between November 14th to 16th, 2022, and players will receive details of the person they’re matched to send a gift to sometime during that week. For updates, follow the official feed over at @EMULSIVEsanta.

The deadline for sending gifts out is Monday December 7th, 2022 at the very latest. As with previous years, given the pressure on our global postal systems, the earlier you shop and ship, the better, please.

Regarding sponsors, we have a few to kick things off. Which is a nice segway into…


2022’s first sponsor update

After a hiatus in 2020 (due to Covid and everything that came with it), sponsors are back on board with a vengeance for 2022, and I’m pleased to announce our first wave of 15 as of about an hour ago:

Want to click through? Here they are:

You can expect a few more to appear over the coming days 🙂


Matching and wish lists

Please be aware that depending on your event RSVP, the person you are matched to send a gift to may well be in a different country than you.

Please be aware that if you chose not to ship internationally but are the only person in your country to join the event, you will be matched to send a gift to someone in another country – get around this by inviting your friends – physical and virtual!


A word on international sanctions

It’s not possible now, nor has it ever been, to remove the spectre of international sanctions from our event. Specifically because it affects so many past players, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, related logistics issues, and new international sanctions, for 2022, we will be matching Russian players along with other affected countries with other players in the same country. For example, if you are based in Russia, you will only be matched with other players in Russia.

Given the Russian war in Ukraine, we are also working on ways that players can show their support for our Ukrainian community by opting to send an extra gift to participants there separately from the main matching. You can expect more info on that as we figure things out!

Finally, please also be aware that if you chose not to ship internationally but are the only person in your country to join the event, you will be matched to send a gift to someone in another country. You can get around this by inviting friends and family — physical and virtual — in the same country as you.


Sending and receiving gifts

The “Secret” in “Secret Santa” means you don’t know who is sending you a gift… but just like every year, we’re asking you all to let you match know who you are in your card, or in note with your gift.

Of course, if you’d like to stay anonymous, that is your prerogative, but more than ever, it’s about making and maintaining those connections.

Don’t let the lack of wrapped gifts bother you! Please still feel free to take a photo of what you’re sending out and post it on social media along with the #EMULSIVEsanta hashtag. You can also tag EMULSIVEfilm on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as EMULSIVEsanta on Twitter. There’s also the Film Photography Chat Facebook Group.

On receiving gifts

Please, please, please do not open your gift before Christmas Day. When you finally do, take a photo tagging the accounts above and using the #EMULSIVEsanta hashtag and anywhere else on social media.

You might be interested in...

When Christmas Day finally rolls around, post a picture of your opened gift on social media and if your Santa has let you know who they are, go ahead and tag them.


Don’t be one of those people

EMULSIVE Santa is organised in good faith. While you can decide to remain anonymous, your actions reflect on yourself, EMULSIVE, and the good name of the analogue photography community.

As normal, any players caught no-showing will be banned from future events on EMULSIVE, and the event sponsors will also be notified.

Speaking of which.

To the dozen or so folks who truly freeloaded in 2020 (not those affected by the pretty crazy postal issues), I say this: I hope your films dry out and snap mid-roll, I hope your developer is always exhausted, and that your scans are nothing but the deepest 99.99% jet black.

There’s a special place for you in whatever version of hell you do or do not believe exists. It’s filled with people who will poke you in the eyes and other orifices with ghost peppers while rabid raccoons surgically insert a pipe between your anus and nostrils.

TLDR; get in touch if you’re having issues, please don’t be a prat.


How to get involved

Event registration is wide open, and the window is short.

You have until Monday, Sunday, November 13th, 2022 to sign up and not a minute more. If you are a past participant, you can expect an email in your inbox already.

If you do not receive an invite in your inbox, you will need to complete the form linked below to receive your invitation link. This “double registration” system for new players was introduced back in 2017 in an attempt to reduce the number of no-shows, and along with a few other manual checks, it’s helped to reduce the no-show rate to just a few percent of players since 2019.

After you have signed up for the event, there are two things that each and every player absolutely must do. They are:

  • Set a profile picture
  • Create / update your wish list.

Sounds simple? It is. The reason for what might be considered an anally retentive request is that signing up for an event like this is simple. Forgetting to send that gift is even more so.

By setting a profile picture shows you are showing that you are engaged and interested. It takes only a little effort to complete this step, but when it comes to being matched, having one will give your Santa (the person sending you a gift), confidence that they’re matched with someone who took time out of their day to do it. As with past events, anyone who does not have a custom profile picture or wishlist set by midnight November 14th 2022 will be removed from the event without an additional warning, no exceptions.

Got questions? Send me an email once you’re registered on Elfster, and I’ll do my best to help.


It’s over to you

Sign up, get thinking and help bring joy to one of your siblings in this global film photography family of ours.

Thanks for reading,

~ EM

PS. One super important credit: a huge thanks again to @aislinn-chuahiock for the cover photo and support in pulling all this together with me. I could not do it without you!


Register for EMULSIVE Santa 2022

Please complete the Google form embedded below (or access it directly here) and grab the event invite from the confirmation page shown after you submit it.

IMPORTANT: This link is unique to you and cannot be used by anyone else. You must use that link to register on Elfster by Sunday, November 13th, 2022. Once registered, please make sure you are a member of the EMULSIVE Secret Santa 2022 gift exchange there.


Disclaimers and terms

EMULSIVE is not Elfster (the service provider used for the listing/matching). If you have any qualms about the level of your data protection, then I will have to suggest you bow out and not participate.

We’ve tested out and researched a few service providers along the way, and Elfster seemed to come out on top for the functionality they provide and what they do with data provided by their users.

We have no affiliation or commercial/personal connection with Elfster, and you use the service at your own risk. Don’t forget that I’m putting my details on there, too.

Should anything terrible happen (they get hacked, lose your data, etc.), we really can’t take any responsibility. We’re using them in good faith, as much as you are.

Elfster is a public service, so we ask that you don’t invite participants in this event to others you may decide to create without their express consent. We’re sorry, but anyone found doing this will be excluded from entry.

Share your knowledge, story or project

The transfer of knowledge across the film photography community is the heart of EMULSIVE. You can add your support by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

If you like what you're reading you can also help this passion project by heading over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and contributing as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.

About the author

Avatar - EM

I'm 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.

, and please make sure you also check out their website here.

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