Knit a little, read a little, watch a little

Friday, December 10, 2004

Secret Pal

Excuse me while I expound - I'm in that kind of mood.

The Knittyboard has hosted 3 Secret Pal programs, and is gearing up for the 4th (it's SP3, because there was a II-II due to high demand.)

What is a secret pal program? Similar to a Secret Santa program (oh so seasonal reference there) or the secret sister program my sorority chapter used to do during rush, it is an exchange of gifts among a group of people. The names of participants are put into a hat and are pulled out and matched to another participant. Generally, if person A is giving gifts to person B, person B is not giving gifts to person A. Due to the nature of the pool (people are scattered around the globe), gifts are mailed. In our case, a price floor was set - one should spend at least X dollars on one's secret pal.

The first one was during the summer, and was set up by chrochetgirl, a frequent poster of the teenage persuasion. I thought about participating, but was leery because I really didn't trust her to organize it. She didn't always seem to have the firmest grip on realities - as an example, she really wanted a Charlotte's Web, but couldn't afford it. Yet a few weeks later, she was all "I'm buying three skeins of Koigu - should I knit a shawl or a poncho?" Hello - save some extra money and buy the yarn you need for Charlotte, which only requires 5 skeins. Anyway, a bunch of people joined, and she dropped out of sight, leaving a very badly organized round of pals. One person never received the name of her pal. Eventually, somebody stepped in and gathered as much information as possible, and made a reasonably educated guess on the identity of the missing secret pal. (OK, I stepped in and did it. Not really the point.)

Despite the organizational pitfalls, the idea is sound, so on with round 2, the one I participated in. This was small - 24 people, most of whom were long time board posters. I ended up as secret pal to Ceci (or, as she was known then, "OopsSkaFixIt") and with Joeli (aka redsoxfanforever) as my pal. I put in more than the floor for our round ($50 over 3 months) and I do believe I got my value back in what I got. It seems to have worked very well - but there's always the possibility that others did not have the same experience, and haven't said anything. I must admit that I didn't notice that Joeli got anything more than her first package, but that observation is not dispositive.

Since we all seemed to be having so much fun, and some people were REALLY disappointed that they couldn't get in on the fun, Zib set up a second second round, which ran concurrently to round 2. This was also small (9 people) and also seems to be going well. Same disclaimers as round 2.

Now the signing up for round 3 is coming to a close, also being run by Zib. I'm not participating in this round, for a couple of reasons. One is money - I just can't justify doing this again so soon. The second is a little more ... mean? There are a huge number of participants in this round - 90ish (it's hard to count a list that long, and people have been joining or dropping out somewhat steadily.) A large number of these people are not long time board posters - the post indicating a desire to join is their first post (and sometimes, their only post!) I, personally, am not interested in being a pal to someone I hardly know. I felt I knew Ceci, and most of the other participants in Round 2. It's difficult to buy things for someone you don't know a lot about. Admittedly, the questionnaire one fills out provides a lot of information, but it's time for another sorority analogy. (I'm full of them, OK?)

Every year, we did a secret Santa thing. My first year, I got the name of one of the senior members. I knew next to nothing about this woman, and neither did my fellow pledges (the accurate term from my day - it changed to "new member" in my last year, and heaven only knows what it is now [/rant].) The only thing I knew was that she had won the party animal award one year (a joke award - the plaque was a toilet seat.) I lucked out and found Champagne-flavored toothpaste and an Animal toothbrush. Of course, I had to explain the gift to her.... (And lest you think this was a rare occurance, the person who got my name in my last year had the same problem - I got a book light, since she knew I read a lot.)

So, my point is that I liked the secret pal thing when it was small-scale, not the rather major undertaking that it's becoming. (Much like I liked my sorority chapter's size of 10-30 people - I just can't imagine that the same kind of friendships develop in a chapter of 150 people.) I'm curious as to what other people think, too - feel free to leave a comment if you have something to say.