HUMBOLDT — The premise of wine fairies, or ninjas, is a woman presenting another woman with a gift – typically containing alcohol – and not being caught in the act.
Several wine fairy groups have started up over Facebook in the past month, with threads focused on different locations.
To take part, women post their addresses on the appropriate post thread, a stranger reads it, and then drops off a gift at the address.
For Saskatchewan Wine Ninjas, a provincial Facebook group started by Jennifer Zanidean, the thread is a photo of the corresponding town sign that people comment on, located in the photo albums of the group.
“Somebody just randomly picks you, and you can randomly pick someone else,” said Nicki Beckett, one of the group’s seven admins. “You don’t have to stay in your specific album either, if you’re from Saskatoon and you want to ninja someone in Moose Jaw, because you’re going to be there, you can ninja them there.”
Once ninja’ed, the gift recipient is instructed to remove their address on the photo, and wait two weeks to a month before reposting.
Typically, the recipient then gives a gift to someone else’s commented address, paying it forward.
“If the ladies can pay it forward, it’s all dependent on your budget. It’s not a strict, strict rule, we understand it’s hard times. If you can’t pay it forward immediately, like even if it’s a month down the road that would be great.”
Beckett said the purpose of this activity is to bring happiness and brighten someone’s day.
“It’s just something to get in on while social distancing. We’ve seen families get in on it— mothers and daughters, children are going out together and they get really excited about being able to go out and do it.”
Shaneya Roberts, a Humboldt resident and group participant, said she was first attracted to wine ninja’ing by Beckett, who invited her to the group.
“It's so nice to be part of something especially now being isolated and not being able to visit friends and family,” Roberts said. “Who doesn't like a little bit of alcohol beverage now and then?”
Roberts said that she is in the process of putting together her own ninja package to give to someone.
“Just thinking now that I'm a mom, and what I would appreciate getting as a mother...?” she asked.
“So, face masks to help have a ‘me time’ evening, some chocolates, bubble bath for a nice hot bath and a nice glass of wine. Sounds like a perfect evening for any mother that needs an evening to herself.”
The gifts typically contain some form of alcohol, but can also include other items. There is no set price range.
“Things from the dollar store, notepads, they can be anything really,” Beckett said. “We’ve seen candles, we’ve seen pregnancy tests as a joke. We’ve seen almost everything so far.”
For non-alcohol drinkers, Beckett advised stating that you include that you do not drink alcohol beside your address.
While wine ninja’ing has its fair share of participants, with over 39,000 members and in the Saskatchewan group alone, according to the Saskatoon RCMP detachment, it also has its risks.
“We understand the general sentiment and intent of the social media group, but as a police service, we strongly urge you to proceed with caution,” the Saskatoon Police Service said in a statement on social media.
“The groups, while they may be private, are large in numbers and encourage you to post your home address in the hopes of you receiving gifts. Many continue to include further details about their family’s members [including kids] and other personal details.”
The RCMP went on to ask people who use these groups to use common sense and think about the dangers associated with posting their home address online.
Beckett said they’ve received several questions around the privacy of what's posted. As a result they keep a screenshot of the RCMP statement under their page’s announcements.
“It brought negative feedback, which is totally understandable,” she said. “It isn’t for everyone but it also took a lot off our shoulders because we also don’t have to answer very many questions anymore about the privacy and stuff. You are posting at your own discretion.”