The Secret Sister Project

secret sister project

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 women!

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 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:

  • Sign-ups will run in 6 month intervals

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.”


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” you sign up for. 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?

Depending on the group that you sign up for, it may not be necessary for you to send presents. However, regardless of the monetary group, it is encouraged to send a little something special during these 6 months. Keep in mind that this really is meant to be more of a cheering up sort of club.However, in the six month period we will be going through Halloween, Christmas, and maybe your secret sister’s birthday!

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! 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 handmade 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! 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?

Maybe! If you are an international participant wishing to join us then please email us and let us know where you are located and that you are interested. IF we have enough interest in certain areas, then we may be able to allow you to join! Yay!

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?

  • $5-$10: Send a heartfelt letter to catch your sister up on how things are going that month and then send an e-book, paperback straight from Amazon (thank you Prime shipping!), 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 newer hardcover from your sister’s wish-list, some fun socks, fandom tshirt, themed box, get creative!!
  • $25+ The sky’s 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:

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 very strict and “not fair” then we are sorry you feel that way, but we made some exceptions last round 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. If you send back an unfinished questionnaire I will send it back to you. Thanks in advance for understanding.

    • You must “know” one of the hosts in order to join! The hosts are myself, (@withthebanned), Amy (@trippingbooks), or Brittany (@bookaddictguide). What does “knowing” us entail? Well, 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! That being said, if you haven’t already gotten to know us, it is unlikely that you will be asked to join in on this round. Now, we DO take the time to check up on those we aren’t familiar with – if it seems as if you are active on Twitter with people we know and trust, you may have a better chance of getting in. However, there is absolutely no “vouching” for people you know. Otherwise, start forging relationships and maybe you can join us for round 4!
    • 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 during your time participating in The Secret Sister Project. Use the hashtag to interact with one another, ask questions, answer questions and most importantly: 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 we have to reach out to you more than twice to ask if you why your sister hasn’t yet received anything then you will be asked to cease in participating.
    • 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.
    • If you have not received anything by the end of the month then YOU must contact US. 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!
    • If for any reason you find that you have to drop out of this project, please email usimmediately. 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 (Twitter and/or email address) of a “buddy” close to you who will be willing to answer questions put forth by your sister.
      • Your sister will contact this person to ask things such as “Can you ask Sally if she likescitrus 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 wish list that is specific to The Secret Sister Project, start working on this now!
      • The wishlist much 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.
      • If your 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.
      • This list should 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 so that they can tell your sister – but please try and refrain from doing this.
  • 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 letter here or there to your sister. This is one of the things people have been asking for, so be prepared.
  • 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 one of us and we will do our best to solve any issues.

Anything else I should know?

Use the hashtag and interact with one another! The whole point is to bring positive feelings into the our bookish 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 SecretSister Project, wouldn’t you expect your sister to know LOTS about you? (I will also be providing an example of a sign-up email at the bottom of this post) The best advice I can give you is to be creative. My secret sister from the first round (HI LISA!) handmade me bookmarks featuring my favorite dudes (HELLOOO CHRIS PRATT) and it was honestly the best thing I received. 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, and received a Loot Crate one month! We tweet from our own handles pretty frequently, but don’t forget to follow us all over atGals 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, round 2 proved to be much 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 12. Do NOT send a sign-up email prior to seeing the post on July 12. If you do, we will delete the email and we will assume that you do not know how to follow directions and therefore cannot trust that you can handle being a part of this project. Sign-ups run for two weeks until July 25 so you will have plenty of time.

Below you will find a brief sample of answers to SOME of the questions that we will be asking (aka don’t use this as a guide to start answering on your own yet, as we are changing things up for this round) Use this as a guide on how thorough you will answer the questions provided and keep in mind that you can NEVER give too much information…

  • Your Likes: Harry Potter (total Slytherin), Zelda, Sherlock, Game of Thrones (books and show – I am a Targaryen), The Steelers (love football!), Shakespeare, The Princess Bride, Doctor Who, chocolate covered nuts and espresso beans, Chaucer, Fairytales, Robin Hood, Krampus, The show Friends, villains, especially Loki and Maleficent.
  • Your Dislikes: Chocolate covered fruits of any kind, peppermint things, anime, fruity teas
  • Do you have a favorite store: Etsy (anything fandom or literature related), Society6, Redbubble, Amazon, B&N, Teavana, Starbucks
  • Are you okay receiving a gift card? If so, to where? Yes! To the above stores, actually!
  • Would you be comfortable receiving baked goods of some kind? I would!
  • What Do You Splurge On?: anything quirky/literature related, usually artwork
  • Favorite Flowers: I like all kinds! Usually anything bright!
  • Favorite Color?: GREEN (in all shades)
  • Do You Collect Anything?: ANYTHING Wizard of Oz related (the books and movie), teapots, coffee mugs, macabre artwork
  • Do You Drink Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate?: Yes to all three! Preference is tea, coffee, then hot chocolate
  • Do You Have an E-reader?: iPad so compatible with Kindle and Nook
  • Would you be okay being gifted an ebook? If so, please provide the email associated with your e-reader:Yes, I would love it. My email is <redacted>
  • Tell Us Some Books on Your Wish List! My wish list: I am open to surprise books as well!)
  • List some of your favorite authors: NEIL GAIMAN! JULIET MARILLIER! Fantasy is my favorite genre, I also like historical fiction and some horror but more supernatural and less thriller. Also anything with dragons. I like MG, YA, AND Adult!
  • Are there any authors or genres that you won’t read? Erotica, Christian/religious, Stephen King, I don’t love contemps
  • Tshirt size: Men’s medium
  • Hogwarts House: SLYTHERIN.
  • Favorite Disney movie and/or princess: Just one?! Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast, Tangled, Frozen & for princesses I would say Belle
  • Is there a craft or hobby that you have been thinking of trying? yo-yo quilting! I also scrapbook and cross stitch, and have a sewing machine I have yet to turn on due to sheer intimidation
  • Any magazine you wish you had a subscription to? Health Magazine
  • Anything else we should know about you? Anything else we should know about you?Alright! Brace yourselves! All things Alyssa are coming!
    • I have my Bachelor’s in English/Elizabethan Lit which means I LOVE LITERATURE! Shakespeare, Chaucer, Poe, Stoker, the Bronte’s, Mary Shelley – the darker classics are my fav! (Not a fan of Austen)
    • I wrote a 30 page thesis on Robin Hood while in undergrad so I clearly love the dude. I also have my MLIS so librarian things are fun as well!
    • I am a Neil Gaiman fangirl, I have seen him speak 5 times and counting.
    • I Love Harry Potter (who doesn’t) and Game of Thrones. I am 100% a Slytherin, and Targaryen.
    • Dragons are bae.
    • Strong, fierce women, queenly women, are my soul sisters.
    • My tastes are pretty unique as I enjoy the macabre, skulls, and darkness honestly the darker the better, the name of my in-home library is Elysium – yep, the Elysium in Greek religion…the Elysium fields as told by Homer where mortals related to the Gods stayed instead of in Hades….told you, I am a special snowflake! I especially love dark/macabre artwork. I love work by Brom and Abigail Larson, I would love something from her shop:

(I already own Snow White & Rose Red, and The Night Circus from her and am coveting Pretend to Sleep)
    • I am newly obsessed with the podcast Lore which is a podcast about true details behind tales of the supernatural – surprise, surprise I also love Halloween.
    • I love literary or fandom related things, tees, candles, scarves, jewelry – love them all. I also love crazy socks!
    • I have two cats named after Shakespearean characters and am a total cat lady.
    • I like being outside, but hate being hot. Hiking, going on picnics, letter boxing, and geocaching are my favorite outdoor activities.
    • When I am snacking, I like cinnamon candies, airheads, chocolate and toffee, chips and popcorn.
    • I almost always like the villain more than the hero and sympathize with the dark, twisted characters.
    • I like to think I am an open book, I give away a lot on Twitter! 🙂 Full disclosure: If you have a question regarding whether I will like something or not, my co-hosts Amy @trippingbooks or Brittany @bookaddictguide know me VERY well!

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!

4 thoughts on “The Secret Sister Project

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