A couple years ago, in my first or second year as an ML for NaNoWriMo, I participated in an online secret santa among the MLs. I never received a gift, and for a long time, I was worried that my gift didn’t make it to the intended recipient. UPS said they’d left it on the front porch, but it just so happened to be a year with big snows. I was worried it may have disappeared in a snowdrift. Months later, I received a thank you card, along with a beautiful bookmark and was greatly relieved. However, it left me with a little bit of a bad taste for online gift exchanges.
I’ve seen mention of several blogger gift exchanges and thought they sounded cool, but there was always that experience of the previous exchange looming. Plus, some of them I’d only read about after the fact. And really, it’s not an issue of “If I get a gift, I better get one back.” It’s more of a, “I don’t know if I can really spare the money for a gift, so it’s a sacrifice and maybe I’ll get ignored in return.” Most of my issue with the ML Secret Santa thing was that, because of all the snow, I was worried that they really had sent me something and it got buried in a snowdrift. And then there’s also the fact that I hate when someone commits to do something and then doesn’t follow through.
But I decided to be brave. When I saw mention of a Thrifty Gift Exchange ($10 or less), and it was actually early enough to sign up, I decided to give it a go. The $10 or less thing made me feel better about buying a stranger a gift, and honestly, I’ve been meaning to interact more with other bloggers. Blogging is supposed to be about community, right? So I signed up. And while I don’t regret it, I definitely learned some things.
1) If it doesn’t go in my phone, I don’t remember it. I could have been way ahead of the game on this one, but instead, I was only a few days from the mailing deadline when I realized I’d forgotten all about it and emailed my partner to get her info and look at her blog. I really should have determined before I even got her info when and where I was going to shop for her.
2) Thrift stores in this town suck. I went to three. And I ended up buying my thrifty gift from the clearance section at a regular store because there was just nothing good at any of them. The first had jewelry and accessories. A lot of them actually. But none of them was even close to what I was looking for. So no-go. The second told me I couldn’t carry my backpack in their store. But as worried as they apparently were about being stolen from, I wasn’t about to leave my backpack (with my few expensive belongings) out in my car to be stolen. Plus, from the few minutes I was in their store, their jewelry and accessory pickings were slim. The third one, didn’t have any jewelry at all. So yeah. If I’m going to be shopping thrift stores for an exchange in the future, I’d better get clothing and shoe sizes. Otherwise, it’s not happening.
3) The post office likes to be closed on Mondays. I was already behind. Then I saw the perfect stuff, but when I went back for it, I misremembered the times and the event was over, so I couldn’t get it. Then all the thrift store hopping happened. So, basically, I was supposed to get my package in the mail by the 25th, and I hadn’t even found anything good yet. So I emailed my partner (because communication is big), and promised to have it in the mail the next Monday. And then the post office was closed. Curse them and their random holidays!
Anyway, the package made it off the next day. And I followed the monetary guidelines, even if I didn’t find anything in the thrift stores (which was supposed to be the thing – finding treasures for each other in thrift stores). Honestly, she got a much better gift from the clearance section than anything I even saw in the thrift stores. Everything just looked dirty to me. Worse than stuff I’ve found in garage sales. I was tempted to make her a gift out of duct tape, but I felt like the exchange was about finding treasures within a budget, not about creating something. My next gift exchange, I’ll try to go for a “create something” exchange. For now, I”m happy that I bit the bullet and participated. I got to meet a cool new lady, whose blog I’d never visited before (and that I plan to spend a lot more time exploring), and I got a good learning experience regarding what is and is not available in the thrift stores in my town. And also, which one to not shop in, because they’d make me leave my bag outside. Which is a little like my phone in its importance to me. I have everything in there, including stuff that I can’t afford to replace if it gets stolen.
It seems that I was partnered up with someone who is equally plagued by procrastination, since I haven’t received anything yet. I don’t really mind, since this time I at least got to talk to my partner. And I can always update this post when something does come. This will be linked up with the Thrifty Gift Exchange at a punk, a pumpkin, and a peanut.
Edit: I did get something just a few days after this post went up. It was a beautiful scarf and a lovely necklace. My partner was clearly a much better thrifter than I was. I apologize that I never got any pictures of what she sent me.