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Secret Santa 2018

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    Ideas for 2019 Secret Santa

    I think between now and New Years would be a good time to start thinking about what worked this year and what didn't. Also ideas for next year. If you have any thoughts or suggestions please put them here.

    Also if anyone would like to give moderating a try now is the time to let everyone know. I don't mind turning it over and taking a rest :-) I also think new faces and ideas help keep the group jumping
    Women are Angels. When someone break's our wings we will continue to fly-usually on a broomstick.We're flexible like that.

    Here are my thoughts.

    1) Carlie, I think you did an amazing job of hosting. I vote for you. But I will also welcome a new hostess if someone else takes over.

    2) I liked the idea of having themes already decided for the year. We can all put on our thinking caps to come up with new ideas.

    3) I would also like to suggest that if there are International participants that they get their names VERY early on. I don't know what the rules for shipping are in other countries but here in Canada the parcel would need to be sent out at the very latest, late September/early October in order to save on shipping costs AND be there for Christmas. Ask me how I know.

    Those are my thoughts.
    Blessed are the children of the piecemakers for they shall inherit the quilts!


      The cost of shipping was way way up there this year, almost double what it was in the past when a person had to ship out of their country, particularly to and from Europe. I can't see people paying that huge amount myself. My other concern is if one of two international shippers didn't fulfill the Christmas gift commitment. Certainly auntiemern could not afford to ship an emergency box, nor could I. We're talking between $100-$103!! That could be a real problem.
      Women are Angels. When someone break's our wings we will continue to fly-usually on a broomstick.We're flexible like that.


        I agree with Monique and if shipping an emergency box, maybe we can all chip in to take care of that expense. I know I wouldn't mind helping!
        “Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” Maya Angelou


          I think you have done a great job of running the group. Including you patience with some of us. The international shipping I am sure is an issue, which is why I am sure some of us have chosen to opt out of that choice, Perhaps international shippers can ship to each other, since they know that is going to be an issue when they join the swap. As far as the emergency box, I never even thought about international shipping, and would certainly need help with an expense like that. That being said, I guess I will just hold on to the emergency gifts I have for next year.
          Blankets wrap you in warmth, quilts wrap you in love



            Yes Marilyn, hold on to it for next year. We can always add to it.

            I lucked out this year, only Sheena and Monique had to ship outside their country this year.

            I'm wondering if we shouldn't have some kind of restrictions regarding international. i.e. maybe it can only be if we have at least two from Europe? I don't think it is as much of a money problem for Canadians shipping to the States but it would be better I would guess if we kept countries together for shipping. We use to have more people willing to ship outside of the States but that was when it was down around $65-$60 but I don't think that is going to be the case with it being up where it is now, it's insane.. I go along with Marilyns thoughts on this. I'd like to hear more on this topic too.
            Women are Angels. When someone break's our wings we will continue to fly-usually on a broomstick.We're flexible like that.


              Carlie thank you for running the group.

              I had sent this message to Carlie, please note it was mostly written before receiving my secret santa box and is in no way a reflection about on her box/items and I am loving the chocolates as well as looking forward to the gifts. When talking to someone else about this an odd event was mentioned being that I was required by work to take part in a series of terrible exchanges for four years running which has made me more sensitive and aware of how exchanges go badly. When combined with the large size of this exchange as the exchange progressed I became more and more stressed over it. I signed up and took part in this exchange to have a fun, low stress exchange however past experiences do color current events.

              I will point out something about shipping if a box is large or heavy 22*16*8inch or over 15bl it made be cheaper to ship via which sells fedex labels for far less than fedex or USPS but large/heavy boxes only in the USA.

              "Thoughts on the Secret Santa exchange
              Please note this was written before opening my Secret Santa box and is in no way a reflection on my received gifts.

              First I will not be taking part next year so please take my options with a grain of salt

              1. Small gifts, well that means a lot to different people. When talking about quilting anything smaller than a twin bed quilt is what I personally view as small. As time to ship was coming up I questioned each of my gifts. Was a set of two hot pads too small/simple a gift or was the lap quilt from Missouri star too large a gift? When looking at past years the only sets of 12 gifts has what looked to be six of large table runners or lap quilts. No one wants to be the person that does not craft enough and at the same time does not want to you feel you made too much. I wish that there were a bit more guide lines as to what the twelve gifts should look like. Yes I know that is more control in the group but being told what the 3-4 smallest and largest gifts in terms of size/scope would have removed a lot of stress as someone doing this exchange for the first time, while still having the ability to have a range of gifts. A few sets of pictures for minimum, maximum, and average desired gift set would also help.

              2. I really liked the list of all twelve themes at the start of the year.

              3. 12 is a lot of gifts. Maybe having two sets of six themes and when you send in a picture of four gifts in one set you can get a name, with a max of two names for each of the two theme sets. The hope is that this could help with the large number of people dropping out by June.

              4. I would ask the people that are in the group for a second year more about what they have enjoyed so much that they returned for the second year. As it looks based on the number of people in the groups like there are less people taking part each year. As I see it this group has three sets of participants, first timers, repeating for a second time and long termers. I see the part of the goal to keep people after time one.

              5. I would also find it useful to learn when the gifts should arrive by maybe having a post listing that should arrive this week each Monday.

              Please note these are my views and relate only to the gift making/giving part of the exchange.

              Please note that either 1 or 3 would have truly helped me. Looking at past years it was one unclear if an image was of the complete gift set or part and two where the gift was on the terms of what people were sending. I didn't get that the Carlie was parting image for lots of people.


                Carlie you did an amazing job running this group. My thoughts:

                * I liked having the themes early. I think it allowed people to get ahead of they had time or even working on them out of order.

                * I liked having the names mixed up - not having the name of the person that has you. Made it more of a surprise.

                * I hope We stay with the 12 gifts. While I can understand wondering if your gift is "good" enough, I can honestly say I haven't been disappointed with any of my gifts i have received in the 4 years participating.

                * I plan on joining again next year.


                  Let me address some of Nashtahs since that was the longest.

                  1. Good idea. The Monthly Themes threads does offer more ideas then we've gotten in the past and I know there has been an effort for friendliness and offering ideas to new Secret Santa's but new people do tend to be shy. I'll try to write up something we can use each year to welcome newbie's and hopefully give them more of an idea of what people do when planning their gifts, where to get help etc. I think it would be a good idea if everyone or as many as possible add to that thread so new people have a better idea of what you found difficult, fun, informative etc when you were new. I always do add to my Request for Questionaire letter (or there abouts) that I have an open door policy and I want to here from you when you have questions or concerns but not everyone avails themselves of that although it is getting better. (Regarding big vs small etc I'll try to clarify that a little also. Big does not mean big like a quilt nor small something tiny, big can also be something time consuming but small or larger but not very time consuming. If something is purchased it does have a restriction of nothing under 5 or 7 dollars (forget which). So yes, I'll at least write up something particular to new people and then it's up to you to add to that thread to make them feel more welcome.

                  A few people suggested less gifts last year, the majority wanted to keep it at 12 (1 a month). (Yes, I'm a 12 gift person since I'm greedy and love opening presents on Christmas, yes, it's also my birthday so it's always been a kind of thing with me LOL) There can be more then one Secret Santa Group and perhaps someone would like to open one with 6 or 4 gifts per year for the more faint of heart??? I think both would go well and not effect each other.

                  Re people leaving the group once it's started. In the past this was one of the main reasons that we could not get our names early. Traditionally about 45-50 people would sign up but then fall by the wayside by June and we'd be down to about 30. We would again lose another 5 to 7 by October. Some would not even let us know specifically that they were no long doing it. That alone in the past has made it crazy enough for whoever was brave enough to say they'd be a moderator! Last year I did stress the need to be committed prior to signing your name on the dotted line. We had about 30 people that were brave and we only lost about 6 prior to June. Quite an improvement and we were left with about the same amount at the end as we always did. Hence we could get our names early and I think listing the themes early also helped that. It also made life easier for your moderator who worried anyway but didn't have to do new data bases and such like the previous year!

                  4. This might be a good thing to discuss in the forum right after Christmas. jkolaski had suggested last year that we mention our Secret Santa in the forum at the end of the year so others would be enthusiastic to join for 2019 It might give people more of a flavor as to what we do do all year?? Also in the newbie thread would be a logical place for it?

                  5. I've gotta say this doesn't thrill me but not that's it's not a good an ideal world! The first two weeks of December is the most hectic and confusing for a moderator with 23 (this year) people to look after. We have a shipping deadline but no it doesn't always hold up (maybe close to never?) but we all do strive for our better selves. Even then packages don't go out the day they were again due to and tracking numbers can be held close to the chest like a gold coin never wanted to be parted with! And then if by miracle of Christmas miracles they all do go out, some nervy little (big) packages have the nerve to get lost in the mail....or the dreaded waylayed. (That's when Auntiemern springs into action wondering if we really do have enough for that emergency box). At any rate what I do try to do that first week is identify the lesser heard from people, the ones who have had a bit of a problem or such and act the real Christmas scrooge/Grinch, Cajoller by PMing and emailing until people never want to hear my name again :-). I do try to send the recipient a quick PM letting them know they haven't been forgotten and when the package should arrive as soon as I get that info. Lets face it.... that's better then doing 23 those in two weeks) Soooo, I kind of feel I have my hands full at that time and I'm lucky because I don't have a large family for all the things that also come with Christmas !!!:-)
                  Women are Angels. When someone break's our wings we will continue to fly-usually on a broomstick.We're flexible like that.


                    To begin, I have really enjoyed this exchange. I love quilting and making other handcrafted items. I also enjoy being able to shop and select items to share with a new friend. I tend to do all of these things even without deadlines and exchanges, as an example, I regularly make baby blankets (quilted or crocheted) for friends and family members who are expecting or have just delivered.

                    I am going to break my thoughts into about four or five areas. These are: join or not, making gifts, shipping deadlines, opening gifts, and feedback. While this is not my first exchange, it is the first one where I have spent the year working on projects for an exchange. This makes it very different in terms of expectations in all of the areas mentioned.

                    Join or not: I decided to join because it sounded like fun and I needed something to do and because my daughter encouraged me to do so. Next year, I will probably join again, even with a planned major move during the summer. It will give me something to do and be fun.

                    Making gifts: Like my daughter in some ways I wish there had been a tiny bit more in definition for what was expected. “Small” is very subjective, especially in arts and crafts. Small could be interpreted as a pair of 6 inch hot pads, or a bookmark or a twin quilt. For me a little more direction in how to interpret the term “small” might have helped. Due to several unforeseen circumstances, I had some issues with staying on track and was late (in my mind at least) in shipping my package of completed gifts out.

                    Shipping deadlines: I am very appreciative of the extension I received in shipping my gifts and equally pleased that others appear to have received the kind of extension. May I suggest that at the beginning of the exchange there be discussion on shipping and deadlines to ship by? Perhaps include suggestions on different methods of shipping and encourage early shipping if possible. Maybe discuss the expected arrival date as opposed to ship date.

                    Opening gifts: In my family we generally open presents on 25 Dec. Some years we have opened one the night before. This is the most fun aspect of an exchange in my opinion. I am anxiously waiting for the day of opening the gifts.

                    Feedback: Some additional thoughts and ideas. If a deadline is posted for joining and volunteering to select a theme, please observe it. I loved having an entire list of themes to work with from the start and think this should continue. Might I suggest that instead of a twelve theme pool, we have a sixteen or eighteen theme pool to choose from? Several could be required and then the rest could be chosen from as desired by the giver. I found it easy to work with the themes and the favorites of my recipient friend, but found some of the themes hard to resolve into a finished form. With an emergency gift collection, perhaps if one has all gifts but one ready, that one could be shipped for them?

                    My apologies, while I would love to be in charge of an exchange, with a major moved in the planning stages, this is not reasonable for me at this time. Perhaps in another year or two? However, how would you suggest one prepare for this responsibly? Many years ago, I was part of several much smaller exchanges. Would moderating a smaller exchange help to effectively prepare one to moderate an exchange the size and duration of this one?


                      First-timer here. I very much enjoyed the challenge of participating in this swap. Just a few thoughts:
                      I did struggle with the "is it too little/too much" concept. I think it would have been helpful if the previous year's pics were of individual gifts vs. seeing all the gifts spread out in the same photo. That way first-timers would get a better idea of what a "typical" gift looks like.
                      I also liked getting all the themes at once early on. It avoided the pressure of getting a specific project done on a deadline...if the ideas weren't coming, we could move on and do another month.
                      Re: the cost of shipping and the quantity of gifts, this might be an idea for another group: ONE gift, mailed sometime in November (or earlier for international). Yes, it's wonderful to have 12 gifts to open, but wouldn't the feeling be the same...that someone made something just for you, be it 12 gifts or one?
                      Thank you Carlie for being our fearless leader. I can't begin to imagine the time and effort that goes into running this group and I very much appreciate all you do.

                      to the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world...


                        I really enjoyed the Secret Santa this year. Not that I didn't in the years before but I think a # of things contributed to my enhanced enjoyment this year:

                        #1 --- retiring half-way through the year!! That helped me a lot. Not that I wasn't still working on a few gifts as we neared the deadline. LOL I am always challenged by a few themes.

                        #2 --- having all 12 themes early was WONDERFUL! I had ideas for the later months themes that I could complete before we got down to the fast-paced September-October time frame.

                        #3 --- I enjoyed not doing the straight swap of names. It made it more interesting wondering who had my name .

                        #4 --- I can totally identify with Nashtah's dilemma about what sort of gifts are expected. I felt the same the first year I did it. However, the chats about each monthly theme helped me get a feel for what everyone was thinking. Although I did still have the "I hope what I made is good enough" thoughts. I think a communication with the first-timers about this would be a good idea and then the chatting between us should help them make decisions on what to make. I also liked the separate threads for discussing each months' themes this year.

                        #5 --- I think stressing the need for a firm commitment helped to keep the # of participants pretty stable this year.

                        #6 --- I will be signing up for next year's swap.
                        Ginny B



                          Well let's face it y'all...I am NEVER on time for this swap. That being said though, I do manage to get it all done and sent to my SS on time. That is not to say that what I do is a good thing, or even acceptable. I, myself, am going to make a concerted effort to be better at this, as everyone should be. I personally like the 12 gifts, and have gotten some amazing things over the years, that I truly treasure. I agree that those that don't like the idea of completing 12 gifts, should make a group of their own and not change that aspect of this group. There have only been a couple of years that a few of the swappers did not hold up their end of the bargain, and sent really awful, yes, crappy gifts. (Yard sale junk)That is why the max number of store bought, and price amount was put in to the rules. We lost a couple of very great swap partners because of that. I personally a number took a number of things to one of them, that I knew I would see at the forum retreat. I just felt so bad for her. For those new swappers that are unsure...just ask what to expect. The size of the gift is entirely up to the person making the gift, but should not be something that you yourself would not be happy to receive. As an example, I would not send out a dollar store tape measure, and call that an acceptable gift. Now if you incorporated that same dollar store tape measure into a gift basket that included a few other gifties, or turned it into something else that was nicer, that would be a little different...understand? I don't think any of us expect to make, or receive a box full of $50 gifts. The thought and idea is to make nice, useful, or playful gifts to send to a secret swap partner and receive the same in return. It is supposed to be fun...not stressful. Any amount of stress this causes, we bring on ourselves...mainly because of procrastination. Have fun and enjoy the ride...even if it gets a little bumpy at times.
                          Blankets wrap you in warmth, quilts wrap you in love



                            Carlie, thank you so much for moderating the Secret Santa. It is a huge task and does take time to make it work.

                            Here are a few of my thoughts:

                            1. I have greatly enjoyed doing the Secret Santa for several years. It was harder my first year trying to figure out what to expect as I was also new to the forum. But it has became much easier as the years go by. I decided a couple years ago to use the Secret Santa as a way to expand my sewing skills and to create. I have bought some items and made others and some months, it was a combination of both. I do like the limiting how many months can be strictly bought and having a price minimum on bought items to help avoid issues that have happened in the past.

                            As far as the too little or what to expect to make, I think that Marilyn did a nice job of explaining with the tape measure. As far as maximum, I really hate to put something out there could be a reason someone makes something large either by size or cost. As I look back over the 2017 group pictures posted, there are several that did post pictures of individual months which is why it was recommended to go through previous years to see examples of past projects.

                            2. This was the first year that we received all 12 months themes towards the beginning of the year and I found it extremely helpful as I usually get more sewing done early in the year. I like the wide range of flexibility of how the theme can be incorporated into the project be it the fabric or item. The other great thing is how helpful the group has been to help come up with ideas for the themes. I do like that we can switch out two of the themes if we wish.

                            3. I think getting our partner earlier this year was also a nice bonus so gifts could be customized if the Secret Santa wanted to. I had thought of some really cute ideas for the person that I had but could not find what I was thinking of to make a couple of things more personal.

                            4. As far as the participation, the expectations up front has helped in this area. One of those items for next year needs to be discussion about shipping including things to avoid (large bulky items and heavy items – personal experience was a lesson in shipping). And for people dropping out, life happens and circumstances do occur beyond our control. Which is why the check-in times and requirements that have been put in place are helpful to keep the swap running smoothly. Plus, if someone needs to drop out for the year, contacting the moderator as soon as you can helps everyone. As far as if someone has had to quit for a year, I would like to encourage them to join the next year.

                            On a personal note of the swap. As far as being the Secret Santa, I love the challenge to come up with something to fit the theme or try something that I have never made before or find something unique for the person. When it comes to being the receiver of the swap, my favorite part is opening the gifts or like this year, receiving the unique gift of the advent calendar (so looking forward to seeing what other wonderful gifts, she made this year). I love receiving the homemade gifts from other quilters or items that another quilters thought would be useful to me. Generally, these are the only quilt or handmade items that I receive during Christmas with the exception of a few forum friends mail surprises.


                              I love being in the swap, this was only my second year. I was nervous the first time, but the encouraging posts early on helped. I started a thread with links to ideas & it really helped me when others added to it - it can be easy to get stuck on something ans seeing others ideas helped spark creativity.

                              I love the 12 gifts. One a month is very doable for me and is a nice "break" from other big projects.

                              I liked getting the themes early, but it seemed like there was less discussion this year - I did miss the long threads about the theme I was working on that month. I'm not sure how to improve that, though.

                              I think it would be encouraging for newbies to see pictures of individual gifts, or at least smaller groupings of them. That won't be easy for everyone to do, but maybe a thread with everyone's list if gifts matched to the themes would be helpful? Or in the new year group, those of us who have participated can post about the gifts we made and recived?

                              Finally, I think encouraging everyone to post their likes, colors etc. Is helpful- part of the fun is to be able to customize a few things ( know we have to wait for names, but I think this year was a good balance)

                              Thank you Carlie for hosting this - I really enjoy it and making connections with everyone.


                              Secret Santa 2018

                              About this Group

                              We had a lot of fun with the Secret Santa 2017 group last year. A lot of happy people received beautiful handmade gifts from their Secret Santa's. Each person made and received 12 gifts at Christmas that were made throughout the year, one a month based on a given theme. We learned new things, challenged our skills in a non stressful way and got "down and dirty" creative. Plus at the end of the year we get 12 great gifts for Christmas!

                              This group is a commitment as you are signing on to create 12 gifts during the year. They are smaller projects so any challenge is not overly difficult. You also, twice a year, get to swap out the named theme for one of your own choosing. You may also purchase rather then handmake 3 items during the year.

                              If you would like to join please "subscribe", "join". Read the Rules in the discussion section and sign. You will receive a questionaire from the moderator that helps her match you up with your Secret Santa recipient.

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