Happy Sunday everybody! I’m sitting under a blanket in a big jumper. The tree is fully decorated next to the TV. Emma and I are enjoying The Holiday (which is one of the most underrated Christmas movies out there) and have decided to share all things #TBTBSanta this year. Last year, I fell in love with this awesome Christmas tradition and have been looking forward to it, well, all year and now as the secret is out of the bag and I have gifted and received my boxes, I can share them with the world.
Have you ever taken part in a secret santa? It’s a staple of most school yards and offices around the world, and is a great way to spread some Christmas cheer without breaking the bank. Simply put, everyone adds their names into a hat, picks someone out, and buys a gift just for them from ‘Santa’. It’s a great idea, but, do you know what’s better? The Broke and The Bookish Secret Santa (TBTB Santa). Hosted by Jamie and Jana from The Broke and The Bookish, and The Artsy Reader Girl, the TBTB Secret Santa is a huge secret santa for the bookish blogging and online communities.
There are 3 levels to enter, and you fill out a long questionnaire that helps your Santa buy books and goodies for you.
a) 1 book and a small gift/candy
b) 1-2 books and a couple goodies
c) 2+ books and goodies
Once Jamie and Jana have collected all of the names, they’re split back out, and you have lots of fun patrolling the twitter tag, buying and wrapping gifts, and eagerly awaiting your parcel to arrive. Obviously, as someone who has taken part before, I dived right back in with option 3 and decided to go big and go home. It turned out to be a great decision!
I made it quite clear last year that I like thinking about, buying, wrapping, and giving gifts. I love receiving them too, I am not going to sit here and pretend that I am only about giving presents, but it’s nice to put something together with a lot of thought and effort, wrap it all carefully, and send it off for someone else to enjoy. My Santee this year, Lottie (you can see her Twitter and Instagram) sent a really great wish list that had a choice of books on it and an array of likes and dislikes to think about.
I went crazy, and probably gifted too many things! I decided again to split the items into two boxes. Price wise it makes sense, it is so much cheaper to post 2 boxes weighing under 2kg than 1 box of over 2kg, so I planned ahead this year and kept two lovely Harry Potter boxes from earlier crates in the hope they would be useful for this very time. Thankfully Lottie was a Harry Potter fan, so I tetrised the items to fit into the boxes and remain of equal weight, and sent them off. I know she has received it, and has decided not to open everything so I don’t want to spoilt it, but I hope she really like it all!
My Santa had been in contact with my friend Emma, so I think she knew that when I received a Post Office missed parcel slip through the front door that it was probably going to be my TBTB Santa box. I was so excited, and practically raced to pick it up and finish the shopping in ASDA so I could dive into the box and see who my Santa was and what they had bought for me.
This year I really tried to avoid working out, eliminating people, or thinking about who actually had me as their Santa. I wanted it to be a complete surprise, and when the box arrived, it wasn’t someone I was expecting. I had spoken to the lovely and generous Kathrin throughout the TBTB Secret Santa period, and even though I had briefly entertained the idea that she was my Santa agggggges ago, I had dismissed it almost immediately. She is genuinely amazing and has spoilt me rotten, and is from my city too so I am very much hoping that we stay in touch! The box looked amazing, the paper was so cool and everything was so well wrapped, and there were hand written notes and some hand made things in their too. I loved it!
I listend to, well read, the note and opened the envelope and inside was a lovely card and hand written note that both revealed my Santa to me and told me a little more about the box. It was immediately clear that Kathrin had put a lot of time, care, and effort into the box, and had even managed to them it (around space no less!). You should all go and follow her on Twitter and Instagram now! Go on!
TBTB Secret Santa is all about the books, so I think that it is only right that it is there that I start! I sent quite a long list that I had created for this and to send to friends/family to show the things I was most eager to receive, but I know that last year I was lucky enough to receive things that weren’t on my list and love them, so I was quick to mention that I was happy to received recommendations too. Kathrin generously included 5 books, ranging from ones I’d been eyeing for a long time with ones I’ve never heard of, ones on my wish list and ones she was recommending. It was a great set!
The Dark Vault V E Schwab I was super excited and pleased to see this book in my box because it was a book I was desperate to get and to read but was also a book that I had listed as the highest priority on my wish list. I love Schwab and wanted to read more by her, and actually own the books of hers that I was reading too! It was the last book I unwrapped in the box and was a great book to finish on.
Attachments Rainbow Rowell I really liked Fangirl when I read it this year, but wasn’t sure of anything else she had written until I stumbled across this and decided that I really wanted to read it. I think my Santa likes the sound of it to, and I have heard nothing but good things since I discovered that it existed.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman Both my housemate and my Dad have recently read this and said it was good, but neither read a lot of non-fantasy fiction that I really enjoy so I’d never bothered to pick it up. I love that Kathrin included her favourite book of 2018, and somehow this has made me review my pessimism about reading it. I really want to give it a good go now!
Honor Among Thieves Rachel Caine and Ann Aquirre I can’t lie to you, I’ve not heard of this book and don’t know much about it, but what I have since read I like the sound of. I am very much all about heist novels and criminals and dystopia and space and these seems to have elements of that all wrapped in one novel. It sounds right up my street and I think will prove to be a great recommendation.
Empress of a Thousand Skies Rhoda Belleza Just like Honor Among Thieves, I hadn’t heard much about this story and still don’t feel like I know a lot about the book, but trained assasins/killers, failed murder plots, secrets, and undercover/underground frenemies sounds like a book for me!
Kathrinhad mentioned that the box had a space themed, and that was definitely evident in the book choices, and in some of the goodies. The astronaut has the most adorable knees (yes, this is a weird observation to make but is the one that jumped out at me none the less) and the magnet is awesome and already on our fridge. I also wrote extensively in my questionnaire about liking Harry Potter, and there was an awesome set of cool Harry Potter stuff like these festival bands and a ‘Don’t Let The Muggles Get You Down’ keyring, which I think should be a motto in everyone’s life really. I bloody love Christmas, I go on about it enough and own enough Christmas jumpers that everyone will know this is true, and love socks, so Christmas socks is just too awesome. I also may have mentioned my excessively large number of ear piercings, so she included these adorable earrings too!
I also may or may not have mentioned my love for all things coffee, tea, chocolate, and sweets. I definitely added it into my questionnaire and I most definitely have spoken about it on my blog and social media. The space theme was continued in the sweets which is awesome, and there was a great mix of new things (white chocolate covered Oreos? Yes please. Chocolate Pudding Popping Candy Praline goodness? Get in my mouth) and old classics (Millions and Wham?! FLYING SAUCERS!) I also adore the mug and the glass, they’re so simple and awesome, and not like anything I’ve seen.
The last bit of this box is probably the bit that is my favourite and really touched me. I have hidden the words, but each of those cards in the top right have a little message about why she chose each book and a wish for me to enjoy them, the card had a lovely note inside, and there was a letter in there that made me feel really special. There is a selection of art from Kathrin in this that she has made into prints and bookmarks and they are incredible, and personal, and are definitely my favourite thing! You should check her art out on her Instagram here because she is really talented!
I was so excited to take part in TBTB Secret Santa this year that I was slightly concerned that I would be disappointed or feel like it wasn’t as good as it was last year, but once again, the people taking part and my Santa have been amazing and generous and lovely. I feel so spoilt and have enjoyed giving and receiving gifts so much again this year. It’s such a special thing to be a part of and I’ve made some really great friends along the way as well! Thanks to everyone who has made this year’s TBTB Santa amazing, but mostly, thanks to Kathrin. You are amazing and lovely and genuine and talented and so generous and even though I feel a little undeserving of this level of awesomeness, your box was so appreciated!
I know that Jamie and Jana have faced a few difficult messages and have ran the whole show again, so I wanted to give a little shoutout to them. Their dedication to making this awesome event happen is so appreciated, and I really hope that next year we’re all celebrating the efforts of everyone in the 10th anniversary of TBTB Santa. Hopefully, I’ll see you next year!
Did you take part this year?
Who did you have? What did you give?
Who had you? What did you receive?