Since April 2013 I have been coordinating different quarterlyish package exchanges for the TTC (trying to conceive) Instagram community. We typically have a theme – lucky socks, stationary, ornaments, local love, nail polish, scarves, favorite things – and it’s SUCH a fun time to put together package for someone who knows about the season you are in. We don’t just cut if off to the people who are struggling to conceive, we welcome women for all phases of infertility (pregnant, adopting, new mom, etc… more details on this below!) I absolutely LOVE how all of these women come together to support one another and spread positive energy and love.
And guess what – it’s time for the next one! Typically I don’t use my blog to spread the word about this, but this time I want to invite bloggers, instagrammers and all of social media to participate (plus have a place to answer lots of questions in an easier forum than a tiny IG comment section). Our theme has been suggested to me from several past participants and I am SO excited for it. Drumroll please ….
The next exchange theme is A MUG EXCHANGE! Woooohooooooo!
Before I share how to sign up participate, let me answer a few commonly asked questions about these exchanges:
Who can participate?
Anyone who is currently trying to get pregnant, including those suffering from secondary infertility; those who have recently adopted, are in the process of adopting or searching for their new family member; anyone who is currently pregnant after dealing with infertility or recently having had a baby after a struggle and lastly, anyone who is using a gestational carrier, egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.
Please note that you may be given anyone to purchase for, not necessarily someone who is on the exact same journey as you. As this exchange grows, it has become increasingly more difficult to ensure that you get an equally appropriate match. Just try to remember that you are encouraging another TTC sister no matter what their story is!
How does it work?
Once you sign up and get the name of the person you are sending to (more details below), you will work to put together an exchange box for them, including a coffee/tea cup/mug. You will be given a “send-by” date and I ask that you respect that date unless there are extreme circumstances. You will send a box to someone and receive one from someone else!
How much is this going to cost me?
Typically the suggested amount per box is $20 plus shipping. I don’t advise that you spend more than $20 but we definitely do have some generous women who put together a box worth more. Since not all mugs cost $20, you are able to fill the package with ANYTHING else that might make someone smile! Lucky socks, a special treat, a fun lipgloss or nail polish …. You can’t go wrong (unless you break the law) – this is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts.
I do ask that you invest in a lot of bubble wrap and a good box. It helps tremendously to ship it US Priority and get a tracking number just in case anything should happen during transit. (Plus it comes with $50 insurance!) No one wants to receive a shattered mug due to poor packaging!
Besides a mug, is there anything else I HAVE to include?
A note! Please include a card inside with a special word of encouragement for your new friend. Many will include a way for their person to get in touch with them – a twitter handle, blog or email address or IG account – it’s really helpful for me if you include your name so that my inbox isn’t inundated with “who should I thank!?” emails.
I live in the US/Canada/UK/Australia/etc, can I participate?
Yep! We always have women from all over the world participate and I think that is what makes it so much fun! HOWEVER, you will only be assigned an overseas person if you agree to be open to shipping internationally. (More about that below). I do ask that if you live outside of the US, that you be open to shipping internationally, as many of the participants are located in the United States, however I know that sometimes that’s not an option and that’s okay too.
So am I exchanging with the same person I am sending one to?
Nope! The fun part is that who you are sending to will be a completely different person than who you receive one from.
Does that mean I should keep my person a secret?
It certainly does make it fun when that happens but it’s not necessary. If you are too excited to hold it in, feel free to share. You will be getting their social media information so feel free to friend them, follow them or look them up!
What kind of mug do I need to send?
You can get ANY kind of mug. Travel, big, small, delicate, clunky. It could be a cute mug from your local coffee shop, something you ordered on Etsy, bought at Walmart, or purchased from a garage sale (just make sure it’s clean). There are SO many adorable mugs out there – be creative! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this can be a mug that you adore or that you think someone else would love.
Because shipping a mug can be tricky, there may be some women who just want to order a mug online and have it shipped directly to their person and then they can send a separate little box of surprises if they didn’t spend $20. (If you do this, take advantage of the “gift card” section in a order to let them know that’s what you are doing).
How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?
The first exchange I coordinated started as 30 women putting together a package and has now grown to a couple hundred. And I have a feeling now that we are opening this up to more of the social media world, it’s just going to grow bigger and bigger! Yeah support team!!!!
What happens if I send a package but never get one back?
Ugh, guys, it does happen, I have to be honest. It doesn’t happen often but there are definitely a small handful of women each exchange that are subjected to a lost box, a flakey partner, or some other sort of weird circumstance. I will do my best to reach out to your sender once or twice but sometimes due to the sheer volume of participants, it just becomes impossible to make sure everything gets straightened out. From the very beginning of the exchanges I have warned participants that you have to come into this exchange with the understanding that you may not get a box. It stinks that there are some people that might taint this experience but I do promise that it is far and few between. I am a firm believer that it is a blessing to give and if you are one of the few unfortunate few that receives a shattered mug or nothing at all, just know that your gift has blessed someone else. So please understand the risks involved but know that you likely won’t have a problem! In exchange for my time coordinating this, I just ask that you follow through with your commitment to send a package, sound good? :)
Can I share this on my blog/with my instagram followers/on facebook/twitter/etc?
Of course! We LOVE new participants and their friends. They don’t need to be a follower of my blog or instagram account (chels819) to participate. Anyone in the infertility community is welcome to join in. We will be using the hashtag #TTCmugexchange2014 so feel free to share and let’s spread the love! (Also, if you want a live link, you can send them to this one: https://trialsbringjoy.com/mug-exchange-2014/
What are the dates I need to know in order to participate?
You will need to sign up no later than Monday, October 13th. That’s a FULL 2 weeks of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from me via email on either October 16 or 17. (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I am not always able to get ALL the emails out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from me, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking me to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Friday, October 31st to put together your package and mail it out. Please make sure if you sign up that you are able to get your box out on time.
What happens when I get my package?
This is the fun part! I LOVE seeing all of the posts where people show off their package! Post your mug to social media and tag it with #ttcmugexchange2014 so we can all peruse the pictures. Send a shout out to your person, blog about it, tweet about it, do whatever you want to celebrate this fun exchange! I do understand too that there are many women who are not publicly sharing their infertility journey with others so know that you don’t have to share it publicly in order to participate. The key thing is that we offer encouragement and support to one another, even if that circle stays small.
Enough FAQ’s! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!
Alright, here is how you sign up!
1. Email me the following info to firstname.lastname@example.org NO LATER THAN Monday, October 13th:
- Your full name
- Your full mailing address (please remember to include your zip code so I don’t have to google! Also if you are in the USA, please type your address on one line (ie: 123 Notebook Lane, Janesville, LA 45698. This makes it a lot easier for me with the system I use). If you are from outside the USA, you can use multiple lines.
- Your blog/twitter handle/IG name (be specific which is which)
- Your willingness to ship internationally (just write YES if you are willing and NO if you are not)
I will close the exchange at midnight on the 13th (central time) and will not be able to accept stragglers after that.
2. Wait to hear back from me! I WILL CONFIRM THAT I HAVE RECEIVED YOUR SIGN-UP EMAIL. If you do not hear from me within 24 hours, please check the email address you send it to and resend. (Also, check your spam filter to make sure my reply didn’t go there). If you have emailed and still haven’t heard back from me, leave a comment below with your email and I will connect with you.
3. Share! Let your friends know about the exchange! You can share my blog or instagram account so that they can find out more information. I feel awful when someone finds out “too late” and can’t participate so help me make sure no one gets left out. Again, use #ttcmugexchange2014 to share – the more the merrier!
4. Shop, write, smile and sip! Once assignments go out, shop and send out your package with an encouraging note. Then wait patiently and enjoy your mug once it arrives. Share the thoughtfulness of your new friend! I have seen so many amazing friendships form as a result of this exchange. Cell numbers are swapped, emails are exchanged – I have even seen friends plan trips to visit one another due to the friendship formed over a simple package! I LOVE THIS PART!
That’s it guys! I am so excited for this. These exchanges are among the highlight of my year and I am pumped to open this up outside of Instagram. YIPPEE!!!!
Ready, set, GO!