Edinburgh secret Santa scheme takes off

Organisers Gary Wood, left, and Malcolm Christie say their project has had a huge response. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Organisers Gary Wood, left, and Malcolm Christie say their project has had a huge response. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A FESTIVE office ritual is set to sprinkle Christmas cheer across the Capital with the first city-wide present exchange.

Edinburgh’s Secret Santa project will match hundreds of generous gift-givers in the hope of bringing together locals in the season of goodwill.

So far, about 100 people have signed up to take part, with “Santas” ranging from business owners to school children.

Software developer Malcolm Christie, 26, said the campaign began with a Tweet from local blogger EdinBlogger and had snowballed from there.

He said: “We thought it was a really good idea. It’s had a really big response in just a few days so there could be a thousand signed up by the time registration closes.

“It seems like a real mix of people wanting to take part from lots of mums and kids, to office workers.

“People can see the information provided by the person online so you can choose to share as much or as little information as you like.

“The idea was just to do something to bring the community together and Christmas is a great time to do it.”

An online gift-giving idea launched by website Reddit in 2008 has since broken world records for the largest Secret Santa project.

More than 144,000 “elves” from 175 countries have already signed up for this year’s Reddit present swap.

People can sign up for Edinburgh’s version online until the end of the month before being matched with someone at random.

They will then have two weeks to buy a £10 gift before depositing it in one of the participating shops. Businesses can also donate gifts which will be randomly given out to those participating.

Malcolm added: “We’re working with local shops to support Edinburgh businesses and are encouraging people to buy their Christmas gifts from them, rather than online.

“Lots of shops have agreed to be drop-off points for the presents so it should get more people through their doors.”

Once gifts are given, participants will be encouraged to post pictures online of them both buying and receiving their presents.

Rebecca Christensen, 33, of virtual high street website Love From Indie Street, said businesses were keen to sign up, and said it coincided with Small Business Saturday on December 6.

She said: “There’s been a great take-up so far and all the businesses I have spoken to have been more than happy to be involved. The blogging scene in Edinburgh is growing and it’s a way of embracing that as well as being a fun, festive thing to do.”

Chris Smyth, who runs Ye Olde Christmas Shop on the Royal Mile, said: “It’s a great idea and a good way of supporting local shops. There’s a nice spirit to it and it’s a good way of bringing people and local businesses together.”

Sign up at edinburgh-secret-santa.co.uk