How the Mumsnet Secret Santa works

Christmas post box
OK, so it all looks a bit complicated but, as long as everyone's paying attention <ahem>, it's not really. Here's what happens...


Every year in October, MNHQ begins a NOMINATION thread and a DONATION thread. Everyone is welcome to post on either or both.

  • The nomination thread

For about two weeks, you have the opportunity to nominate a fellow Mumsnetter who you think might need a little help this Christmas, or whom you'd like to be recognised for the help and support she's given to others, or her general all-round luffliness.

The only thing we specify is that, whoever she is, she has to have been a Mumsnetter for at least a year to qualify for nomination.

You should include the Mumsnetter's Talk name and the reason for your nomination. Please be EXTRA careful with the spelling of your nominee's nickname: we've had some close misses in the past because people have nominated one name when they actually meant to nominate a different, but very similar one! Once the emails to nominees have been sent out, it becomes really difficult for us to 'withdraw' a nomination from someone - so please do triple-check the name you're nominating. It doesn't matter if your nominee (or you) subsequently change nicknames; we will be able to find you/them.

On the given deadline day, we close the nomination thread and contact all of those nominated to ask them for their address and age/sex of their children (if they have them), plus any personal family info that they'd be happy to share with us and their donator to help us in the matching process. If your anonymity is important to you, you may prefer to give minimal information here (such as just the ages and sexes of your children).

  • The donation thread
Started shopping will take a few days to pull the packages together...I luff this bit of MN, every year. Fillybuster

Absolutely LOVE this and it is one of the best bits of my Christmas. NorksAreMessy

I think I've got something in my eye. <sniffle> Snapespeare

The donation thread opens at the same time as the nomination thread, prompting (we hope) lots of MNers to pledge a donation.

You can donate vouchers or actual presents. Vouchers are easier for us, in terms of making matches, but we have had all sorts of other donations in the past: Christmas trees, hampers, regifted items, new toys, and  'nice smellies' for adults. Secondhand toys/clothes are fine, too, but do really need to be in very good nick, please. Please don't worry about spending lots of money: every gift, however small, is very welcome.


We scrabble together an enormous spreadsheet and match up nominees with donors.

Those who have offered to donate will be sent their their matched nominees' addresses. They will also be sent the information that the nominee has given to us specifically to be passed on to the donor. No other identifying details will be shared. All this takes place in good time to allow gifts to be sent well before the final Christmas post.

Parcels are addressed to "The Mumsnetter of the House", along with a numeric code allocated by us to aid identification while preserving anonymity. Donors and nominees can use this code to say 'thank you' to one another on the MN Thank You thread.

This whole process is anonymous; we do not pass over real life or Talk names.



Once all the emails to donors have been sent, we start a Thank You thread.

Those who have received gifts can post on this thread using their MN code to identify themselves and say thank you to their donator for their gift.

This is the bit that makes most of us cry.

"To my Secret Santa, today I have received the most amazing, generous gift from you. It actually made me cry when I received it and opened it. I cannot believe the generosity that you have shown to me and I cannot thank you enough." RichteaAreCrap

That said, it's worth knowing that it's not compulsory for recipients to post their thanks on the Thank You thread. Many of those who are nominated are, sadly, going through very tough times – and, because of that, some may struggle either to get to the Thank You thread or to find the words to express their thanks.



Options to track parcels

We've added a couple of simple buttons for logged in donors/nominees labelled "I've sent" or "I've received". They are situated at the bottom lefthand side of any page on the Mumsnet site.

This will allow a MN donor to confirm their gift has been sent, and generate an automatic notification from MNHQ to their nominee that a parcel is on the way.
A MN nominee can then use the button to mark their gift as received and their donor will get an automatic email from MNHQ confirming their parcel has arrived.
There will still be an opportunity for the nominee to visit the Secret Santa Thank You Thread to post their appreciation. We hope this facility will remove some of the anxiety Mners have felt about the whereabouts of their parcels.
But please don't post on the boards to ask 'where's my parcel' or 'has my parcel been received', because these posts can cause bad feeling. Please contact MNHQ at and we'll look into things for you.

Secret Santa logo


If you have any further questions, please check out our FAQS page. We think we've covered most of the bases there...

Last updated: 14-Oct-2014 at 10:22 AM