The Secret Sister Project: FAQs

secret sister project

Hey there, friends! We have been absolutely blown away by the generosity and positive vibes 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!

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 Basics:

The What:

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!

The When:

  • We will announce each round of signups at least a week prior to the sign up post going live
  • Each round runs for 6 months so sign ups are generally in January and July

The Who:

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.”

The How:

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.


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!

Do I have to be a blogger to join?

Technically, no. We do hope that you are bookish, however. We are book people over here!

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.

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.

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!!

The Rules:

    • 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. (This has happened!) We are all pretty active on Twitter and really like chatting. I understand that some of you have anxieties about this and I want to just reassure you and tell you that you shouldn’t be worried. The sole reason we do this is just to see if someone is serious about the project because in the past people have viewed it as a way to get gifts. If you go to the hashtag and interact with people a few times, that should be fine!
    • You must be 18 or older to participate in The Secret Sister Project 
    • You must actively use the hashtag #OTSPSecretSister to thank your sister during your time participating in The Secret Sister Project. 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.
    • 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. We know things happen!
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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, etc. 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 are urging you you to put a little more emphasis on the “pen pal” aspect.
      • 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 makes people feel bad.
  • 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. 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. 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.
  • 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. It also helps build the relationship when you show you are paying attention to their likes.
  • 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! 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. Please recognize that this is a commitment and that there is someone out there relying on you to follow through. That being said, we promise we are relaxed if you are honest with us. We know things come up, they come up for us too! Just let us know and we can work together to ensure everything runs smoothly for everyone.

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 in January or July. Sign-ups run for two weeks until each round 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! 

Post edited 1/7/2019

16 thoughts on “The Secret Sister Project: FAQs

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  5. I’ve been following the hashtag (and you guys) on twitter the last few weeks, and all the positivity there really put a smile on my face. 🙂 I hope I can join this round, but if not I still wish you all a successful next round! It’s a lovely project you’ve developed here.

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