Remake: Social Media Gift Exchange
Two things Sherri Edmond’s husband Paul loved before he died in 2013 were Christmas and anonymous acts of kindness. Since Sherri and Paul never had children, she found herself both lonely around the holidays as well as looking for a way to honor his memory. In 2015, she hosted her first FaceBook gift exchange.
“When I started, it was just me offering to send surprise gifts to the first ten people who commented on my post,” Sherri says. “But the next year, I got so many messages from people asking if I planned to do it again and if they could participate that it turned into an exchange that grows every year. This year, there are 77 ‘merry-makers’ as I call them on our exchange list.”
Part of the fun Sherri says is buying for someone you don’t know. “Somehow it just means more to get a gift from a perfect stranger who took time out to send you some joy,” she says. “And it’s wonderful for people who don’t have a lot of family or friends on their gift lists during the holiday.”
Best of all, it’s a fun way to spread the cheer that exceeds your usual social circle. “Paul would have loved this,” Sherri said. “It’s the perfect way to celebrate his memory every year.”
Rules for Hosting a Social Media Gift Exchange
Post about the exchange at least six weeks before Christmas to give people ample time. Have firm dates for sign up and for gifts to be received.
Keep It Random
Assign gift givers to gift receivers randomly. Sherri has said that watching unlikely connections be made between her social media contacts has been part of the fun.
Set a Price Limit and Give Hints
Set a firm price limit both for gifts as well as shipping costs. Create a virtual group for the merry-makers (think a FaceBook group or Dropbox) and create a questionnaire about interests for everyone to complete and share. Gift givers can get ideas from this list for their recipient.
Add A Personal Touch
It is more fun to wrap the gift and mail or deliver it (if you’re close enough) rather than have it delivered by Amazon. (Although it’s understood that sometimes it’s just not possible because of time and logistics.) Include a note or Christmas card letting the receiver know who their gift is from and why you decided on the items you chose.
Share the Joy
Post photos of your received gift in the merry-makers group after opening them. Not only will your sender enjoy seeing their gift lovingly received, but it’s a great way to give merry-makers ideas for next year. (Those photos shared here are all gifts sent and received by merry-makers on Sherri’s list in previous years.)
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