Hey guys! Thought about something recently (shocker I know) about Secret Santa events on deviantart, and as someone who a few years ago participated and helped host one, I thought i'd share my thoughts and real 'be careful' advice as I would hate to see people who participate in one get burnt over doing so when such an experience should be fun. Secret Santa events, for those who don't know, are events where participants get paired blindly with others to draw someone a picture for Christmas in secrecy, revealing the drawing on Christmas to the surprise of the recipient. Such events should be about fun, getting to know other artists, and enjoying the holiday spirit regardless of what you celebrate!
However, there are some things you should be aware of so you don't end up having a blue Christmas! Make sure that you understand what you're getting yourself into before seeking out such events.
WHY? - well, let's face it, we all know someone who has been in such an event that has been flaked on, paired poorly, never got their gift, etc. It happens alot, and as a previous organizer, I got to see upward of 30 people never see their side of the gift, or had a relatively bad experience with it.
Here's some advice on what to be careful for, what to take heed with, and what to stay away from to make sure you have the best Secret Santa experience possible!
• 1 • - Check the size of the Secret Santa group pool before signing up! - Why? Because large groups can and often do suffer from pairing issues, large amounts of drop-outs, and have a hard time making sure everyone is tended to properly. Our SS group in 2012 contained over 200 individual artists. This is a problem as 1.) making sure everyone gets a properly suited partner is hard and 2.) drop outs cause entire rosters to shift, meaning that people can get caught in the holes!
Make sure you choose a group that has enough people to make it interesting, but is small enough to really enjoy the experience with the Season, the artists, and getting to know and befriend people you didn't before! Maybe even an organization of friends is a good idea! Maybe a group you contribute alot to! Think before you enter as the size will drastically change your experience. Don't just enter a SS because you want to be in a popular group event, be in one that you are comfortable with, and know can be reliable based on its size.
• 2 • - Make sure the Organizers have some experience working with more than one person! Why? Many times, people on deviantart can be ambitious in what they want to host, but alot of the time, lack of experience can cause alot of SS hosters to feel overwhelmed with how to handle is something does go wrong. Make sure you are in a group with a reliable person at the head that may have experience with it in the past, or knows how to work out the problems should they come up. No one wants to be left in the dark.
Should this discourage you from trying to host a SS event if you've never done it before? Absolutely Not! You only get experience from doing things, but be prepared for the amount of work and troubleshooting involved! SS's arent easy to host, they take alot of time, effort, and care for the participants.
• 3 • - Get some knowledge on how partners are selected before joining! Why? This one is a biggie. Alot of the time, especially in larger SS groups, partners are joined with very arbitrary decisions. Is the SS event tiered on skill level? Who's the one deciding the skill level? Is such a process fair to the participants or is it going to be overly judgmental and potentially get you or someone else hurt based on a judgement call? Make sure you know before you enter!
• 4 • - See if you are friends with any of the participants! Why? Because who likes going to a party where you don't know anyone? Sometimes its fun to join a group of strangers in the hopes of meeting new people, but it's also fun to know someone in the participants so you can talk, gain ideas, and share in the experience more! See who's doing what, odds are it might even help you find an event you like!
• 5 • - Check the rules on content before entering! Is it your fandom? Your interests? Why? Because you might prefer working in a group with shared interests! Anthro artist? An anthro SS might be better for you! Korra fan? Maybe theres a LoK SS going on! Deviantart has millions of members, and odds are that there's a group somewhere hosting a SS that has 'you' written all over it! Find a group with interests you like, and you'll most likely have the most fun!
• 6 • - Have fun with the ENTIRE EXPERIENCE, not just in the gift you receive! Why? Because since when is the Holiday season about only 'receiving'? Try to go into an SS with the mindset that you are going to make someone's day really fun and special because of something 'you' made for them! If you go into an SS solely because you want art and nothing else, then an SS might not be for you, because there's alot more to a Secret Santa than 'getting something free from another'. If you get satisfaction out of gifting others , then an SS is something you will greatly enjoy,and embrace that feeling!
• 7 • Lastly, make sure you check the success of past SS' groups if they return from previous years! Why? Because its usually a great indicator about whether or not that SS is a good or a bad idea! If something bad happened one year, find out why, or ask someone who participated that year what they thought about it! IT also might help you find the best events on the website!
Make sure you don't make too hasty of a decision, as Secret Santas are fun, but they also aren't for everyone! Scout out your options, don't pick something because its popular, pick something because you feel its the best match for you. Maybe even start a SS between 10 close friends!
Make sure you make the right choice, so there are no sad faces on Christmas in whoville.
Also, feel free to advertise for your secret santa events here in the comments! This will also help connect people who want to be in an event find the one they're looking for!