We’re trying something new for a gift exchange for the coven for Yule this year, and since I thought it might be useful to other people, I wanted to share what we’re doing.
We’re a small coven with 2 initiates, 3 people who’ve recently finished their Dedicant year, and 2 brand new Dedicants, so some of this will need adjusting if you have a lot more people.
For our purposes I’m fine doing manual matching and some tech support if needed, as well as helping brainstorm ideas if people need help.
Everyone getting something nice in their email shortly before our Yule ritual (on the 19th) to make their Winter Solstice a bit brighter.
It shouldn’t cost either the person putting it together or the person receiving it any money (or require anyone to sign up for a new account somewhere.)
It should take between 1-3 hours to put together, not more than that. (There are guidelines for scope in the email I sent.)
How we’re doing this:
I created a Google form with multiple sections. You can see a copy of it here, and feel free to snag a copy and make it your own.
Note that because we have two new Dedicants (who have agreed to some limitations on doing ritual or spellwork on their own for the moment as part of our training process), spells and rituals are not default options for things to request, but everyone else can choose to include that if they want.
There’s also a “If you’re not sure about any of their specific requests, a winter solstice theme is just fine!” explicit default.
They will send an email by the end of the 17th, so people have a chance to check out their gift before our ritual, and then we’ll have time to talk about what we got (and what we gave) during ritual.
(There are pros and cons to it being a surprise, but since several of these options include things that someone can’t get a sense of in the moment on the spot, and because people might want to think about what they got, I figure a little advance warning is good.)
Since I can see everyone’s responses, I’m also planning to put together a little something to share in ritual itself based on people’s preferences and current interests.
My email to the coven
Welcome to the first ever virtual gift exchange for Phoenix Song! Thanks for giving this a try! Please read the email before filling out the form – it’s got some key info to make the form much easier.
Don’t stress about this! If you are sitting there getting anxious about figuring out the right thing, get in touch with me and we can figure out ideas together. (If you’re assigned to me, talk to each other, perhaps?)
A lot of people enjoy exchanges like this to be a surprise, so if you have a question about something on someone’s form, ask me and I’ll pass the question along to them without saying who’s working on their gift.
Each of us will collect or create something that can be shared in an email with the person we’re gifting to, based on their interests and desires in the form they fill out. You’ll get a copy of your form responses and a link to edit it in case you notice something after you submit it.
Putting this gift together should take 1-3 hours, not dozens. (Check out the scope section for ideas on what that might look like.) Basically, pick one thing on the list, not all of them!
If you’re not sure about what to do about their interests, doing something for the Winter Solstice in general is also just fine.
You should not include anything that costs you additional money, or that will require additional money from the person you’re gifting it to to access. (Recipes are an option for this exchange: if they’re open to recipes, you can assume that ordinary grocery ingredients are fine, but keep an eye out for anything hard to get or expensive.)
If your assignee is a current Dedicant, do not include spells or rituals (since they can’t do them on their own yet). If it’s someone who has completed Dedicant year, spells and rituals are fair game.
Everyone should get something they can enjoy immediately or soon with minimal additional effort on their part, basically.
Whatever you do should NOT break copyright or cause problems for the original creator in any way. (That’s not kind, and copyright issues make Jenetts sad and grumpy for professional reasons. Please don’t. Linking to legit sources online is great here. Ask me if you have any questions about this one.)
I’m glad to help with any technical issues (like figuring out how to share what you’ve found, wallpaper sizes for computers or tablets or phones, etc.) but make sure you give me enough time to get back to you before the deadline!)
If you’d rather me send the email for you on the 17th, send your gift to me before that and let me know. (i.e. if you’re afraid you’ll forget.)
If you don’t get something by the end of 18th, let me know.
How this works:
1) You fill out this form by the end of the day on November 19th 2020 (sooner is better: if you all get it done sooner, I’ll send them out sooner.) I want to give you a month to work on this, or as close to that as we can get.
The form asks:
- Some general information about likes and dislikes
- 3-5 magical or witchy topics you’re interested in right now (you have to list at least 3).
- If there are any deities you’re particularly interested in (that you’d be open to getting something about for this.)
- Anything else you want your giver to know.
- Music – what you like and don’t like, any themes or topics. If you need help thinking of genres, here is a super detailed list of music genres, but it’s just fine to be broad and general.
- Art and images – how you might use them, if you would be interested in wallpaper what size it should be, other preferences.
- Recipes: what kinds of things you’re interested in, your general skill level, any foods you don’t eat/want.
- Other ideas – a list of other kinds of gifts you might be interested in.
The form is designed so that there are lots of options. Pick something that suits your interests and skills, and fits the wishes and desires of the person you’re giving something to.
2) I will randomly select who gets which person, and send each of you the email with your assignment and the answers to their form.
3) You will put together something for them (see the guidelines for that below) and send it to them on or before December 17th. (So they have a chance to explore it before our ritual on the 19th.) Close to the 17th would be ideal.
4) We’ll share about what we got and what we gave during our ritual.
The scope of the gift:
Again, aiming for something that takes you 1-3 hours to put together.
As an example of the scope of things you might send, any one of these would be great. You only need to pick one thing to give them, don’t try to do it all! However, do include more than one item (i.e. multiple images or recipes) so that if one thing doesn’t work for someone, something else might.
A playlist on a theme of 8-12 songs
A curated collection of 20-30 images from online sources on a theme or topic they like
3-5 images they can use as a wallpaper image for a computer or device. (Formatted to the useful size).
3-5 recipes on a theme or focus with a few notes about why those recipes
Any one of the items in the “other ideas” list that they’re open to.
(If you do a booklist or list of web links, aim for 5-10 books or 15-20 links, along with notes about why you think they’re interesting/relevant.)
Where to find things
As it says, please don’t make copies of other people’s music or art or other work without their permission. (Copyright violations make me sad: I know a lot of artists and musicians and authors who’ve had their stuff shared online in ways that makes it hard for them to create more or make a living.)
Make sure whatever you share includes info about the creator, as much as possible – that’s part of the fun, since it lets people discover new artists/musicians/sources.
If you’re looking for good sources, check these out
- YouTube channels from the artists themselves. (And while there are violations on YouTube, for these purposes, if it’s on YouTube and has been for a while, it’s fine to link to.)
- Unsplash for images (free to use images generally shared by the artists themselves.)
- If you want to just link to images, check out Flickr.com (download options will vary: check the permissions for the image)
- If you want to find historical images on a theme, you can also check out many major museums (the Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum all have extensive online collection you can link to, for example, and in some cases download for other uses. Again, check the permissions.)
How to share what you put togetherIf you’re not technically inclined, it is totally fine to just share links in an email – a brief description of what your focus was, a list of the links, and your good wishes for the season is great!
If you’re more artistically or technically inclined, it’d be fine to put together a Pinterest board, a collage of images, a Spotify or YouTube playlist that can be shared, etc. Whatever you make should be accessible without additional subscriptions or costs or needing to sign up for an account with a service, even a free one.
Questions? Need help brainstorming? Get in touch with me by email.