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SECRET SANTA EXCHANGE 4.0 GUIDELINES - Deliver by Saturday, December 17

chrischris Posts: 3,862Member, Moderator
edited December 2016 in Swaps
Welcome to MSA's Secret Santa Exchange 4.0!

Everyone is welcome to participate, but must follow the GUIDELINES in this post. (We may modify the GUIDELINES in future rounds depending on how this goes.)

People will be randomly matched with a partner based on whatever retail value category you choose.

Basic Rules:
1. Retail value guidelines are estimates, but please try to stick close to these to be fair to everyone. (Even if an item can be found for less than retail, has gone on sale, etc., let’s stick to retail value to keep this simple for everyone.)
2. Brand new items only. Do not include items that have been swatched or otherwise used or tested in any way. Do not include expired items.
3. Food/drinks will be allowed in this exchange.
4. Consider gift wrapping your items or doing something a little extra to make this fun and different from a normal swap.
5. You must include a minimum of 1 item from a subscription box in the box you are putting together. This item must be a full size item (not a sample, deluxe sample, or foil packet). If it is not obvious, please somehow indicate which item(s) came from subscription boxes so we don’t end up with non-subscription box items on the swap site eventually.
6. Retail Value Category Options (applies to the total value of all items in the box you send, but not packing materials or shipping itself):
• Dasher (Retail Value $25-39)
• Dancer (Retail Value $40-59)
• Prancer (Retail Value $60-79)
• Vixen (Retail Value $80-99)
• Comet (Retail Value $100-125)
Note that if for some reason we have an odd number of people in a particular category such that a match is not possible, you may be moved down to a lower Retail Value category so the match can be made. This is rare, but you will be notified if this happens. No one will be moved up into a higher Retail Value category.

1. The exchange begins when this post is online.
2. I will send everyone an email containing the information for their match(es) as soon as I can, but on or by sometime Monday, November 21 at the latest.
3. You may ship your package at any time, but no later than Wednesday, December 14th. Please use and keep a copy of your tracking number just in case. (You do not need to send this number to me.)
4. All packages should be delivered by Saturday, December 17th at the latest.
5. I plan to provide periodic reminders here about the timeline for everyone’s convenience.
6. We will have a thread for reveals/photos starting on or around December 1st. Posting photos after receipt will remain optional, but please at least acknowledge (and hopefully thank the sender!) when you receive yours to eliminate any questions of whether a package was received, etc.

To participate, please send an email to [email protected] with subject “SECRET SANTA EXCHANGE 4.0” including all of the following information by 10 PM Pacific on Saturday, November 19, 2016:
1. Your forum name
2. Your real name
3. Mailing address USA addresses only this round. If there is enough interest, we will open this up for intra-Canada matches as well. Please let me know ASAP if you are in Canada and are interested in participating.
4. List of 5 things or categories of things you like (for example, candles, geek/gamer items, unique items, organic household products, products for curly hair) Please do not list things you do not like because I will not pass this information along.
5. Name of your favorite subscription box
6. Your favorite color(s)/scent(s) if not already mentioned (OPTIONAL)
7. Holiday(s) you celebrate (for example, Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, other) (OPTIONAL)
8. Are you okay with receiving food/drinks? If you want to make sure you will not receive alcohol, please specify that here as well.
9. List any allergies you want your match to be aware of (OPTIONAL)
10. Your swap user ID number*** (OPTIONAL, but can help provide the person receiving your name with more information in case they want to consider it. If you choose not to provide this or don’t have a swap ID number, please tell me at least one prior MSA Forum exchange you participated in.)
11. Number of matches you want (We are limiting this to 3 matches maximum if you already participated in a past forum exchange and/or have a satisfactory swap history. If you are brand new, you can request one match in the lowest RV category (Dasher) for this exchange. If you request multiple matches and/or the mid or high range RV categories, please tell me how you qualify for that here (for example, participated in past exchange or your swap user ID number*** if you didn't list it already above). We reserve the right to refuse anyone participation in this exchange.)
12. Retail Value category/categories you want to participate in:
Dasher (Retail Value $25-39)
Dancer (Retail Value $40-59)
Prancer (Retail Value $60-79)
Vixen (Retail Value $80-99)
Comet (Retail Value $100-125)

Note that Retail Value category is per match. If you want a match in more than one Retail Value category, please make that clear or I will assume you want your match(es) in the same category. For example, you could write:
Match 1: Dasher
Match 2: Prancer
Match 3: Comet

13. Anything else you want me to know in making your match.

***Your swap user ID number can be found by logging into the swap site from a non-mobile device, clicking on the upside-down triangle in the top right corner of the screen, and then clicking on My Swaps, and then on Profile Page. The URL information at the top of your screen will contain your swap user ID number: for example where XXX is your swap user ID number.

Fine Print:
By sending me your information, you agree to follow all GUIDELINES listed in this post.
(We do not plan to modify the GUIDELINES listed here but reserve the right to do so if necessary. We will notify everyone if that happens. I am not participating in this exchange.) I will not share your information with anyone aside from the person you will be matched with. Note that the person whose name you receive may or may not be the same as the person who receives your name. Please reach out to me with any questions.

Most importantly, have fun!
Post edited by chris on


  • finlidanfinlidan Posts: 1,709Member
    Here's a question - what about including a link to an amazon wishlist - would that be okay? I include my swap ID of course but I think my amazon wishlist has a lot more variety of things to give my potential match a better idea of what I am into.
  • kylajaclynkylajaclyn Posts: 3,226Member
    Thanks @chris !! I'm so glad we will have matches by next week so I can start buying! So excited!
  • finlidanfinlidan Posts: 1,709Member
    Oh yeah and I'm glad we'll have matches in time for black friday :smiley:
  • MrsHMrsH Posts: 357Member
    chris said:

    Please do not list things you do not like because I will not pass this information along.

    Is there a specific reason that this is a rule? I have only participated in one forum exchange so far, so maybe I missed something, but I would think it would be helpful to know what my matches don't like or don't want to receive.
  • KadrenKadren Posts: 384Member
    @MrsH probably because the list could be really long. So instead of focusing on what we don't like, she has us list our five favorite things, favorite sub box, favorite color, favorite scents, allergies/aversions so our match should have plenty to go on based on that. Just my thoughts anyway...
  • SaizaSaiza Posts: 1,900Member
    I can't wait!! I did a couple Secret Santa exchanges on MSA and some other sites and the other sites were disappointing. I think I'm only going to do MSA this year and do multiple ones categories.
  • SaizaSaiza Posts: 1,900Member
    Darn my local farmer's market has a cool holiday market, but it's not until Dec 17th lol.
  • shelleyhuntshelleyhunt Posts: 116Member
    YAY YAY YAY...doin' the happy dance! Thanks @Chris for getting this pulled together so quickly! ;)
  • SarahFrancesSarahFrances Posts: 628Member
    Argh! I don't know which retail value to pick. I've decided to do only one so that I can concentrate the full force of my gifting efforts on it, but which one? Decisions decisions. Thank you, @chris for organizing us once again.
  • finlidanfinlidan Posts: 1,709Member
    @SarahFrances I like the lowest RV category because then you might get matched with a newbie and can make it a nice exchange for them. or the highest to go all out! I personally did both the lowest and highest...
  • kylajaclynkylajaclyn Posts: 3,226Member
    edited November 2016
    @MrsH it was banned last year after people got stressed by what others don't want. :neutral: ...
    Post edited by chris on
  • SarahFrancesSarahFrances Posts: 628Member
    @finlidan Oooh, I really like the idea of doing something nice for a newbie. But I also like the idea of going all out, so I'll probably end up splitting the difference and choosing the one in the middle :)
  • JennGJennG Posts: 2,452Member
    @chris will you be sending matches piecemeal? Like we get our match as soon as you find someone to pair us with or will you send everyones matches at once. Like we will all get emails from you on Sunday?
  • boxjoyboxjoy Posts: 2,688Member
    Yay! This will be my first. These always seem to coincide with work travel so I'm super excited to finally be able to participate in one.
  • EliseElise Posts: 628Member
    @chris will the info we give in #13 be passed on to our match? Can we use that as a kind of "tell me about yourself" section?
  • rachelnycrachelnyc Posts: 736Member
    edited November 2016
    For anyone who's included handmade stuff in past exchanges, how did you figure it into the box cost? I made a simple wire link/hematite bracelet for the TOTE exchange and didn't factor it into the overall RV, but if I want to include something more substantial I'm not sure how to factor it in (I don't want to upset anyone by either not factoring it in at all & seeming like I went outside my RV limits or overvalue it & leave someone feeling shorted)...
  • MalloryMallory Posts: 238Member
    I just signed up and I am SO excited! I learned a few things from my first exchange (the Halloween one) so I'm glad that this isn't my first one :)
  • KadrenKadren Posts: 384Member
    @Mallory can you share what you learned? This will be my first exchange...
  • SarahFrancesSarahFrances Posts: 628Member
    edited November 2016
    @rachelnyc Not sure how other folks would handle it, but when I included some handmade items in my first exchange I didn't factor them into the value at all, but that was because they were papercraft type stuff. If I were to make something more substantial or with pricier components - like jewelry - I might figure the value based on the cost of materials.

    ETA Like, for example, if I decided to make a tote or bag or something like that, and I went out and bought fabric, I would probably count the cost of the fabric. If, however, I raided my scrap fabric stash, I probably wouldn't count it because it's an extra that I have just laying around waiting for a project.
  • MalloryMallory Posts: 238Member
    @Kadren this may be just me, but I should have made my wrapping more adorable - covered with washi tape and stickers and different colored tissue paper. Also make sure there isn't any empty space (or "air") in the box - learned that the hard way. I went to the dollar store and bought 100 things of fake leaves and plastic spiders to decorate the top so I plan to do something similar this time.

    I also plan to pay more attention to their followed list and buy/swap stuff from it (although I did get lucky on one of my two exchanges where I already had two items she followed). If the person likes candles/body scrubs/lotions, I should probably get them some instead of just skipping it or conversely, I don't HAVE to get them EVERYTHING they ask for on their five favorite things. I went a little over the top with one of my two and the other one I did was a bit underwhelming.

    Anyway, basically I just plan to have fun with it but spend a bit more effort on packaging and decorating. :) So yeah, just have fun!
  • chefkristinchefkristin Posts: 1,938Member
    I am so torn, I have never participated and have no idea what RV range to choose. It seems all the reveals of ones I stalked have to be high because there is so much stuff included! Can you go over and if so by how much? I am concerned their follows may be all high end and that sucks up the whole gift range. Help ladies.
  • MrsHMrsH Posts: 357Member
    Thanks @Kadren and @kylajaclyn. I can definitely see both sides of it.
  • BestAuntEverBestAuntEver Posts: 1,420Member
    woohoo - emailed my info, ready for a partner!!
  • kylajaclynkylajaclyn Posts: 3,226Member
    edited November 2016
    @chefkristin Nope, I sent a ton of stuff for Halloween and it was in the price range. Deals are your friend!! Try Hollar and ShopMissA websites... on the latter everything is a dollar, and Hollar has a $1 section!!

    Chris will say you should stick to RTV as much as possible and not go over the highest mark in your category. I will say that everyone does go over but the rule is in place so someone isn't $200 over.

    Try eBay or swap for their follows. However, @ann pointed out to me she hates when people start asking her to swap for items "for their Santa" because it makes it seem like the person must agree. She has a point. I'd say don't count on swaps for their items, and if it works out great but if not no big deal.

    You don't HAVE to include their follow items. You can get a great duplicates for cheaper if you can't get the real thing. And if it's high end stuff that's what you should do! I don't have too many follows anymore so I don't expect that. Stick by their five likes and that should help! :)
  • chefkristinchefkristin Posts: 1,938Member
  • JennGJennG Posts: 2,452Member
    I agree, the guilt from please swap with me Bc my secret Santa follows it was kinda annoying
  • rachelnycrachelnyc Posts: 736Member
    edited November 2016
    Michael's holiday sale was my best friend when it came to wrapping supplies in the last exchange. I don't know when their Christmas stuff goes on sale, but I found Halloween supplies at 60-70% off pretty well in advance of Halloween and loaded up on ribbons, scrapbooking embellishments, fabric, washi tape, etc to pack up all my stuff.

    @SarahFrances those sound like good guidelines for handmade items! I have a ton of (nice) yarn in my stash and would love to knit something as part of my exchange (or maybe do some more jewelry...I have a lot of semi-precious beads & gold/silver wire). I like the idea of factoring in the cost of supplies purchased specifically for the exchange & considering supplies you have on-hand as an "extra."
  • KadrenKadren Posts: 384Member
    So I am all ready for the packaging part, I bought lots of cute gift tags, tissue and wrapping paper. I design my own cards and have done many a gift basket that was donated to charity so in that respect I am comfortable. I have never done a Secret Santa before though, so I don't know whether to focus on lots of little gifts or a big gift with a couple extra items. My 'followed' list has a lot of K-beauty but I get so much in my k-beauty subs I really am on K-Beauty overload.

    It will be so special to have someone take time to 'curate' a box just for me, though my tastes are a bit more eclectic (fountain pens, paper, 100% real linen, etc) but I am sure I will be happy...I just want my person to be happy (ecstatic would be ideal) at what they get from me.
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