Have y'all ever participated in a long distance gift exchange? I've done several using the Elfster site and they are lots of fun. Even though the name suggests a Christmas time exchange gifts can be swapped year round. Right now a few of my sorority sisters are doing a birthday exchange for the year and I recently participated in a Valentine exchange within a Facebook group I participate in.
To start an exchange you need a organizer and willing group of participants. The organizer sends out email invitations to participants, once everyone has accepted or the deadline for accepting is reached the organizer matches participants (this is done automatically). Each participant can upload items to a wish list and ask and answer questions secretly. From there, you buy a gift and send it out. In some exchanges you reveal yourself with you gift but others prefer to keep it mysterious.
For a recent exchange we had a $20 spending limit and were asked to limit gifts to small treats.
What I sent:
What I got:
It was hard to capture in the pic but on the left is a tin of Harney and Sons Chocolate Mint tea, yum! It's a favorite of mine, in fact I even wrote a post about it a few years ago.
With the wish lists I prefer to keep it vague, for example I had said I drink tea daily and like chocolate. What a surprise to be gifted my favorite tea! My thought on wish lists are if you want an exact item just go buy it, it's not really fun for your gifter to just buy your preselected gift and it is much more fun to be surprised by the gift you receive as well. I usually try to mix wish lists items with surprises. My recipient specifically wished for Reece's and she had a few home items on her list, instead of spending the $20 on the mug she wished for I got her one at target with her favorite beverage, which I found out through secret q and a. I also found out she collects turtles so I couldn't pass up a cute one I saw in the valentine aisle. At Christmas the sorority sister I was matched with had a crockpot caddy on her wish list, I got that but then also hit up the kitchen supply section and got her something cute there as well. Wish lists give a good idea of a starting point IMO but shouldn't be an obligation for the buyer.
Most people seem to have fun picking out gifts and treating someone. I'd love to do a fitness reward exchange in the future as spending money on myself never feels like a "treat". There's lots of potential with the type of exchanges one could organize. One word of caution though: these work best when everyone in the group is accountable to the group at large, some of us (me!) are slow shippers on my sorority group but we're on our 3rd exchange and no one has not received a gift yet!