Bee and Swap Extras

I didn’t have the best bee experience last year. There were several dropouts, bad communication, and lots of flaking going on. There were a few good members, and you know who you are. To those ladies, thank you so much! To everyone else, grow up and stop making commitments you can’t keep! See? I’m totally over it now.

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Except I’m in a new bee this year! In fact, I’ve done exactly what I did last year at the beginning, planning little extras and pretty packaging for each member. From the great communication so far, I doubt this year will be anything like last year’s experience, and I’m glad of it! Today, I want to talk to you about extras. These may be bee extras or swap extras, but I’ve created a lengthy Pinterest board for good ideas on the subject.

For many years, my husband deployed each year. That means I have an extensive knowledge of what mails easily, and, just as importantly, what doesn’t. I will never forget the story of the entire box of Cadbury eggs……or his surprise at getting a flat fabric Christmas tree in the mail. Some things work, and some things just don’t!!!! I want to pass along that wisdom to you all!

1. Consider your packaging. If you’re in a year long bee, then go ahead and gather envelopes for the whole year. I took these plain white paper envelopes and stamped them pretty, to include writing fun things on them, and printing a “happy mail” label! If you don’t want to stamp, consider some shiny envelopes or pretty labels. You can even do some fancy addresses if that’s your cup of tea! For swaps, I found a pretty set of boxes that are just right for minis and extras.

2. Consider what will travel well. I heart chocolate, but it’s a pain in the neck! Please don’t send anyone in Afghanistan a huge box of chocolate-just sayin’. If you’re determined to send some chocolate with bee or swap packages, please put it in a separate baggie. Ok, so I admit, bars are rotten stinkin’ cute when they are wrapped in pretty paper!

3. This one should go without saying but it doesn’t, don’t put breakables in your package. There are generally plastic versions of most glass things, but if you’re determined, use the rule of separate bags again, maybe even double bagged.

4. Please do not send handmade edibles to anyone you don’t know well. You would not eat them, so don’t expect your partner to, either. This one is a hard and fast rule. Just don’t.

%. Look for inexpensive but nice things. No one wants a box full of things that aren’t, well, nice. No junk or fabric you hated as extras! Hopefully, you understand this one!

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6. If you’re sending a large swap package, consider individually wrapping each item. You could even tag them with an order or some other creative way. It makes the whole thing more fun, really!

7. Consider a theme. Most swaps are themed, so you are automatically going to have color and/or style themes. For the bee hive, I chose a bee theme. {I can’t hardly stand it, it’s so cute!} There are fun green items for St. Patrick’s Day, red and pink for Valentine’s, and so forth. If your swap is, say, an Alison Glass swap, then think about items that go with her fabric line, or that you can make from her fabric! For the Charley Harper swap, think about things that follow that theme, too!

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8. Add a note. If you’re a stamper, you could make a set of cards at the beginning of the bee, and have it all prepared. Which leads me to my next point.

9. Have it ready. There’s no way you can know what your year is going to be like exactly. So prepare and plan a little, for your own sake! Make or gather the notes for your bee. Have all the envelopes you need. Make all the goodies at once. And then, store all of these things, along with baggies in a simple box or basket. When the Queen for that month puts out her wishes, all you need to do is make the block, then give her one of each item in your basket! Done!

10. Have fun with it. Enjoy giving to others and making for them! It’s fun to get blocks in the mail, but, wow, is it fun to prepare a package to surprise someone else!

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