Hey there, friends! We have been absolutely blown away by the generosity and positivity shown during The Secret Sister Project! Thank you all so much for your kind words to those of us who host, and for being there to provide cheer for one another. It is really something to go through the hashtag and see you all lifting each other up despite only being matched to one “sister.” Your generosity shines through and it is heartwarming to be part of a group filled with strong, uplifting people!
Most of you can imagine how much work goes into a project like this. The three of us are expected to always be available to answer questions, keep on top of people who are not abiding by the standards we set, promote the project and so on. It’s tough and frustrating at times, and we are doing everything we can to make it easier on everyone for next round. That being said, this post is going to be LONG and DETAILED and should provide you with all of the information that you need if you want to sign up for the next round.
We ask that you read this post thoroughly, and refer back to it PRIOR to reaching out to us with questions during the project. In addition, keep in mind that the hashtag #otspsecretsister is ALWAYS a fantastic resource for information needed, odds are that someone participating knows the answer to your inquiry!
The Secret Sister project is essentially a cheer club. Think Secret Santa but all year round (in 6 month intervals) with less emphasis on big presents, and more thoughtful notes, cards, small somethings sent just to let your secret sister know that you are thinking about her!
- Sign-ups will go live on July 16, 2016
- This round will run from August 2016 through January 2017
You guys! But there are some conditions that must be met prior to signing up, we are going to outline those below under “The Rules.”
On July 16 we will be posting questionnaires on our blogs for you to fill out. In addition to the questionnaire, you will also be asked to answer a few questions for a Google form. PLEASE NOTE: If you do not fill out BOTH of these things in full, then you will NOT be paired. The Google form is NEW this round, but it is what we will be using to pair, so DO NOT FORGET.
What will I have to do if I sign up to be a secret sister?
This is a commitment, we can’t lie to you. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card AND/OR gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” for which you sign up. It is very important that you don’t sign up for this unless you are willing to follow through. Please think of how sad (and unfair) it would be for someone to be working hard to make their secret sister feel special and not receive anything themselves!
Do I have to send presents?
Yes, unless you are signing up for the pen pal group you are expected to send a little something on top of a card or letter. Keep in mind that this really is meant to be more of a cheering up sort of club, so though you must abide by the price guidelines you should also be sending letters and cards to keep communication open.
Look at how extravagant that package is! I don’t have that kind of money…
Neither do I! This is why we have different price ranges, one of which is strictly pen pals – that means NO trinkets, etc! You should never, ever feel as if your package is inadequate as long as you are meeting your price range “standards.” Trust me, it is much more meaningful if you stay within your price range but then send an extra letter or card just to check in that month! Anyone who is getting caught up on the size of the gifts is missing the entire point of the project and will be dealt with accordingly.
Do we have to remain secret?
No, though that is part of the fun! Just leave your name off of the card or box you are sending if you want to remain secret, and reveal yourself whenever you wish! Some have used the same sending and return address, which is sneaky and perfect. It is entirely up to you! (If you are looking for some tips on how to remain secret -like if you want to send an e-book, for example, we can help ya out!)
Do I have to be a blogger to join?
Technically, no. You absolutely do need to be bookish, however. We are book people over here! We do have some non-bloggers who have joined us but full disclosure they are people that we know and trust. That is not to say that we won’t allow you in unless you are a blogger, but as this project was started and is promoted in our blogging community, it is filled with mostly bloggers.
Is this project international?
It has been in the past! We are going to have to again gauge how many international participants wish to join, and see if we have enough to keep you all secret. Please keep in mind that if you are international and wish to join, you may have to send international in order to be allowed in. We didn’t have to do this last round, and we hope that we won’t have to but we have to gauge interest first!
Umm…I’m a guy so…
That is wonderful! Welcome! I know it is a little off putting to see the word “sister” up there but honestly we just did that because it sounded better than “The Secret Person Project.” I personally would love a secret bro, pal, dude, or friend regardless of gender and we had a few males join us the past few rounds!
What are the price ranges, and can we have some examples of what a package would look like for each range?
- Pen pals: That’s right, this is strictly letters and cards. No trinkets, no extras, nothing. If you want to send ANYTHING more than a letter or a card every month then we ask that you sign up for one of the higher monetary tiers.
- $5-$10: Send a heartfelt letter to catch your sister up on how things are going that month and then send an e-book, baked goods, homemade bookmark or other DIY project, or how about a movie night box with a DVD (thanks to the $5 bin at Walmart) and some candy for a movie night!
- $15-$20 Any of the possibilities listed above and perhaps a paperback from your sister’s wish-list, some fun socks, fandom tshirt, themed box, get creative!!
- $25+ The sky is the limit here, we just ask that you remember to reign it in a bit and remember the goal of this project is for cheer, and joy and forging positive relationships, not excessive gifts. Send those heartfelt letters!!
Here is where things differ from last time, and where we go all “mean mommy” on ya. We ask that you pay attention because we are going to hold you to these standards with no exceptions. I am sure that you all realize that we absolutely do not have the time or patience to deal with nonsense and when I say that, it is coming from a place of love and experience as we did have some issues before. If you think this is too strict and “not fair” then we are sorry you feel that way, but we made some exceptions before and spent lots of time chasing after people and yes, even kicking people out for neglecting to do their part. NOTE: There are no exceptions to these rules unless otherwise stated. Also, If you send back an unfinished questionnaire I will send it back to you. Thanks in advance for understanding.
- You must “know” the hosts in order to join! The hosts are myself, (@withthebanned), Amy (@trippingbooks), or Brittany (@bookaddictguide). What does “knowing” us entail? First and foremost, you should be following all three of us on Twitter, you should know our names, and if one of us reaches out to you, you should know who we are. It is embarrassing (for you) when we reach out to you and you do not know that we are the creators of the project to which you belong. (Seriously, there have been circumstances where we had to reach out to someone regarding the project and they didn’t know who we were. Incredibly embarrassing for them.) We are all pretty active on Twitter and really like chatting. Tweeting at us a few times saying “Hi! I want to join The Secret Sister Project!” does not count. We want to get to know you, there are three of us and our tastes range – this shouldn’t be too hard. Not to mention that we have been promoting this project for months and have been telling you to chat us up! We even wrote up a “get to know us” post to make it easier for all of you to chat us up! Please keep in mind that there is absolutely no “vouching” for people you know, so please do not try. Start forging those relationships with us, or you will not be allowed to participate.
- You must be 18 or older to participate in The Secret Sister Project (The ONLY exception to this rule is If you are under 18 and have participated before, just please make a note of this when you send your sign-up email in two weeks)
- You must actively use the hashtag #OTSPSecretSister to thank your sister during your time participating in The Secret Sister Project. It is worth mentioning this again, USE IT TO THANK YOUR SISTER!! We get TONS of emails asking things like “It says my sister’s package was delivered last week but I never heard anything?” This is unfair, creates more work for us and quite frankly is rude. Be courteous and classy, thank your sister. If you are not abiding by this, we will ask you to cease in participating. In addition to this “rule,” use the hashtag to interact with one another, ask questions, and answer questions put forth. We promise, this makes the whole project more fun!
- If we have to reach out to you more than once to ask why your sister hasn’t yet received anything then you will be asked to cease in participating. If you are going to be late, tell us. You will not be in “trouble” if life gets in the way and you let us know. If we have to chase after you, then we will have an issue.
- If we contact you and ask if you sent something to your sister and you say yes but are unable to provide tracking for the package then you will be asked to cease in participating. We DO understand that life gets in the way and time gets away from you, so be honest. We DO NOT abide liars, so keep that tracking handy!
- If you have not received anything by the end of the month then YOU must contact US. We have had some who have reached out to us at the end of a round to say they hadn’t been receiving. Please don’t do this. We need this information to help you and ensure that no one suffers in the same way in future rounds. We are not going to be checking in with all of you throughout the month so it is imperative that you let us know if you are not receiving! Please do NOT ever feel uncomfortable reaching out to us to say that you didn’t receive something. We WANT to help you with this, you DESERVE to get cheer as you are sending cheer!!
- If for any reason you find that you have to drop out of this project, please email us immediately. We will not judge. We will not ask why. We will simply thank you for informing us and then pair your sister off to someone else so she isn’t missing out.
- You will be asked to provide the name and contact info (email addresses, please) of a “buddy” who will be willing to answer questions put forth by your sister. We are asking that you keep this to someone who is in the community and therefore will be easy to contact. Husbands/moms/sisters are not easy or comfortable to contact.
- Your sister will contact this person to ask things such as “Can you ask Sally if she likes citrus or flowery smelling candles better?” This person can also say things to your sister such as “Hello Joan, Sally ended up buying a copy of “Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type” off of her wishlist so please do not purchase it.
- This person will only act as YOUR buddy. They will not be acting as moderator for the hashtag or as a stand-in for any of the hosts.
- You will be asked to provide a Goodreads or Amazon wish list that is specific to The Secret Sister Project, start working on this now!
- The wishlist must have 20 or more books on it and must contain new and older titles – SOME ARCs are fine but keep in mind your sister may not have access to these.
- This list MUST contain books that you are not going to purchase for yourself. IF you simply cannot resist a title here or there then please let your “buddy” (see above) know PRIOR TO BUYING so that they can tell your sister – but please refrain from doing this.
- Do not give anyone else access to this list. Not parents, husbands, friends, co-workers, secret santas…NO ONE. We had a lot of people buying things their sister already owned due to someone else buying off of this list, and it was a waste of money and went against our specified rules.
- If your Goodreads profile is private, your sister cannot view your wishlist.
- If you do not wish to make your Goodreads profile public then you may use another format for your wishlist such as, Amazon, or by providing one in the sign-up email.
- You must answer ALL of the questions put forth in the sign-up email as well as be detailed and thorough. We will absolutely be sending emails back to you that we deem “incomplete.”
- We are asking that you put a little more emphasis on the “pen pal” aspect this round.
- This means if you have signed up for one of the higher price ranges, you should still send a letters to your sister. This is one of the things people have been asking for, so please don’t forget.
- Do not tweet or use the hashtag to ask for specific and/or luxurious items.
- OK to say: “I love owls!” “OMG I am obsessed with sugar skulls at the moment!” “I just got engaged!!”
- NOT OK to say: “Please send this to me…” while providing links to something expensive or “#OTSPSecretSister this toaster would look excellent in my new apartment!” Even linking to something you think is super cool while using the hashtag seems grabby, and believe me, we see what you’re doin there, so let’s not.
- Do not tweet negativity while using the hashtag.
- Things such as “Wow, I wish I knew if my sister got her package” or “I wish my sister would use the hashtag more” are statements that promote negative communication. We will see them, and we will call you out. If you have issues like this, reach out to the person your sister designated as her “buddy” or to your point person and we will do our best to solve any issues.
- Do not send your sister ARCs unless you are also sending additional things to compensate as we know no one pays for ARCs and you are to abide the monetary limit.
- Do not send packages straight from Amazon. We had some people who completely forgot about their sister and then sent things directly from Amazon to try and make up for it. This is not okay. The emphasis should be on the cheer and the thought that you are putting into your sister and her happiness.
- Please refrain from sending “swag.” Unless you KNOW that this is something your sister would love, random bookmarks etc. you have received from publishers, etc. just looks like filler and do not go toward the monetary limit.
- Please pay attention to your sister’s likes, wish lists etc. This is hard to say, because it seems as if we are emphasizing the gift aspect, but it is a waste of money for you to send something that your sister will not enjoy. If your sister says she loves coffee mugs, try and cater that to her fandoms, etc. There are exceptions to this of course but we don’t want you to waste your money on things!
- If allowed to participate, you will be given the contact information for one of us. You are to contact that person, and that person only regarding any and all Secret Sister Project questions, or concerns. This will help us keep things more seamless, and will let us have divvy up the “work” a little better.
Anything else I should know?
Use the hashtag and interact with one another! The whole point is to bring positive feelings into the our community. Be as thorough as you can when answering the questions. There is no “writing too much” when answering these questions! Remember that this project is The Secret Sister Project, wouldn’t you expect your actual sister to know LOTS about you? The best advice I can give you is to be creative and keep in mind the entire reason for the project is NOT about gifts, but fostering a positive environment. If you are looking for ideas, chat us up, we would love to help! Or ask your fellow sisters! I saw some fantastic monthly themed packages last round! We tweet from our own handles pretty frequently, but don’t forget to follow us all over at Gals on the Same Page)!
We can’t say this enough…please PLEASE only sign up if you are willing to send something monthly and give 100% to this project. Though we had very few issues the first round, each round proves to be more difficult and frustrating. Please recognize that this is a commitment and that there is someone out there relying on you to follow through. Not to mention the fact that the three of us have full time jobs and busy lives, we love hosting this project but absolutely loathe having to chase people down for being inconsiderate.
So how do I sign up?
The sign-up post with all questions that need to be answered will be posted on our blogs and promoted via Twitter starting on July 16. Do NOT send a sign-up email prior to seeing the post on July 16. Please also do not forget to sign up via the Google form in addition to sending your sign up email. If you do not do both then you won’t be qualified for the project. Sign-ups run for two weeks until July 30, so you will have plenty of time.
I hope that this post has been helpful to you, friends! If you still have any questions then please reach out on Twitter. If you are new to the project then I encourage you to use the hashtag to talk to your fellow sisters as they may have the answers you are looking for! Thanks for sticking with us and being so generous and kind!