In the mess that is 2020, many will be hoping that Christmas will at least be special. However, not everyone will be feeling the festive spirit come December. Melbourne mum, Erin O’Brien, has come up with a unique solution to get people looking forward to the festive period by starting an online state-wide Secret Santa.

Victorian restrictions have left some people, of all ages, living by themselves, unable to meet with family and friends. Local businesses are also struggling, unable to compete with the bigger online giants, such as Amazon and JB Hifi. In the face of these unprecedented events, Christmas may very well feel like it’s been cancelled.

This grassroots initiative hopes to spread a little financial love towards Victorians and Victorian small businesses that have struggled under Stage 4 lockdown. Initially started as a way to keep in touch with her friends between now and December, Erin has been bowled over by people across Victoria  from Bairnsdale to Bengido and everywhere in between wanting to play their part. Regional Victorians in particular are welcoming this initiative to help businesses struggling not only with restrictions but also in the recovery from last summer’s devastating bushfires.

Just like the classic Christmas office parlour game, the rules are simple: those who sign up for Erin’s initiative will be given a random address to send a lucky someone a gift. There’s just one stipulation: you must purchase your gift from one of Victoria’s small businesses only.

As Erin has told those who have already signed up to spread joy across the state, “Let’s take this annual celebration of community and consumerism by the horns and support local small businesses by sending a gift to a stranger.”

The scheme is already catching on like wildfire, and what started out as a way to help a few people is now reaching out from Melbourne CBD to Regional Victoria. It seems people from around the state can’t wait to spread tidings of goodwill.

“More people participating means more people consciously spending money with local businesses and more people receiving a cheery package in the mail,” Erin cheered. “I’m not sure if there will eventually be a cap on numbers, but for now it’s the more, the merrier.”

For those wishing to take part, go to the Secret Santa Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/360969751611797. Registration closes at 11:59pm on Monday 19th October.

Once you have received the name and details of your Santa Pal you will have until 11:59pm on Sunday 29th November to send something out. This should ensure plenty of time for mail to make it to its intended destination.

As Victoria shuffles through its second lockdown, it might not seem like there’s much to look forward to. However, Erin’s gesture of kindness has struck a chord with many and will hopefully see a lot of people having a brighter Christmas 2020.