It's my own fault. I assumed people would put as much pride, thought, and consideration into the box coming to me as I put into the box going to my partner. I should have known better and yet, I continue to hold out hope that one day, I too will receive an awesome tailor made box.
So, I thought that perhaps the best way to do this would be to share my latest experience. This is not meant as anything mean spirited, and those who actually know me will understand this. It is simply informational.
To be a good swapper, you can start by actually reading the questionnaire filled out by the person you have been paired up with. I will use my own answers to help illustrate this aspect so as to not highlight others without permission to use their responses.
1. What kind of yarns/fibers do you prefer? If the person answers that they like items that are soft and squishy, accompanied by examples such as Three Irish Girls, Malabrigo, and Knit Picks then you should take heed. Sending scratchy, course yarn is not what the person said they enjoyed.
2. What are you favorite colors and combinations at the moment? Should the person answer that they love all colors but are really enjoying blues and greys at the moment, try not to send items in a rough acrylic yarn the color palette of animal droppings deep in the forest or poorly circulated appendages.
3. What is your favorite treat to eat? When the person lists two specific flavors - either combined or separate - then get those two flavors. This is cut and dry, whether you know me or not - peppermint and chocolate. It's in my name for heaven's sake. Any combination or separate will work. Hard sour candy in bitter biting flavors is not the same thing... at all.
4. What is your favorite hot beverage? Should the person answer that they love peppermint hot chocolate or decaf black teas, then that is what you should strive to find. French Vanilla is the antithesis of what was stated and herbal teas with flavors of maple (seriously, not kidding) apple cider or spiced cinnamon are nowhere near the mark.
5. Do you have any allergies? This is the most important one. Those of us with asthma and allergies clearly state that we have them. We do not try to be coy because we do not want to be sick. Yes, yes there are allergies. Severe allergies coupled with asthma. It is clearly explained that heavy scents can not be tolerated, as they will make me sick.. and yet, the items arrived with a stench so strong I was physically ill. Essential Oils, moth balls, and cedar are so pungent that the two skeins of scratchy yarn and the bag sent are currently living in the laundry room to "air out". It is doubtful that unskeining and soaking will help at all as the odor is still lingering in my living room even more than 12 hours after the fact.
The box you are creating is not for you. It is for the person who took the time to fill out the questionnaire. You could hate everything that you are putting into the box but if you know that it fits the bill to the person who is receiving it, that is the only thing that matters.
If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this - a swap is not for you, it is for the person you receive. It is a moment in time where you do something selfless for the pure and simple reason that it will make another person happy. If you run a swap, don't defend the obvious bad swapper. Make it right. Talk to the bad swapper and let them know how they failed so they can be a better swapper in the future. Don't simply dismiss it and tell the person who received the obviously bad box that you are sorry it wasn't want the person had hoped for... all a swap participant should hope for is a box that was carefully created to make the recipient feel loved.
If you can look at the questionnaire and check off a few things that match what was stated by the person who is going to receive the box, then you have done a good job. If you can't, then your heart was not in the right place. As for the box of items I received...
The books are being donated to the library to bring joy to those who enjoy those kinds of books. The yarn is being donated to the Salvation Army stores, as is the messenger bag simply because I can not get the odor out of them. Hopefully, someone else will be able to gain some joy from them as well. The candy was given to my husband to try. The cocoa and teas were thrown out because no one thought they sounded good. The mug is in the cupboard and the deck of torn up cards was discarded. The cowl is being worn by Hobbit though I am going to throw it in the wash momentarily, in hopes of getting the smell out.
This was a disappointing week - both on a professional and personal front - and I was honestly looking forward to receiving a little box with a few treasures to brighten my day. Unfortunately, I did not receive that at all... I have never felt more unimportant or nonexistent. It is a sad but apparently fitting end to the week.
Here's to a better week ahead...