Tag: Pay it forward

Secret Sister Gift Exchange, Scam or Solidarity

In October a friend of mine posted about a Secret Sister Gift Exchange. Maybe you have already heard of this? You post on Facebook asking for 6 friends to participate and when they reply you send them the details. To participate you only have to send one gift, and you will get 36 in return. Well, after mapping out the number of passes my name makes, it only works out to 12 gifts, IF everyone participates. I had already sent out the info to my six gal pals and purchased my $10 worth of gifts when I started getting emails and texts from friends saying this was a scam and an illegal chain letter. So, I did a little research.

According to Snopes.com this is considered a chain letter type of post and it validated my math query. (I am notoriously horrible at math so I was glad to see I was right this time). It also shared the United States Postal Inspector’s definition of chain letters:

“A typical chain letter includes names and addresses of several individuals whom you may or may not know. You are instructed to send a certain amount of money–usually $5–to the person at the top of the list, and then eliminate that name and add yours to the bottom. You are then instructed to mail copies of the letter to a few more individuals who will hopefully repeat the entire process. The letter promises that if they follow the same procedure, your name will gradually move to the top of the list and you’ll receive money — lots of it.”

Here is how the Facebook Post reads:

Secret Sister Gift Exchange

I felt really skeptical and a little embarrassed that I sent this out to friends. How could I have not known this was a scam? So, I sent a group message and cancelled the entire thing. I still sent a gift to the woman on my list because I knew she was probably just as excited as me to participate. I didn’t want her to feel gypped. I thought no harm in bringing a smile to someone’s face. Who doesn’t love to get a fun gift in the mail?

Just a day or two after I cancelled, a package arrived for me and I thought, “Did I order something online and forget about it?” Nope. It was a gift just for ME- two beautiful scarves! Both sent from a mom I already know who did not reply as one of my original six sisters.

secret sister scarf

A week later another package arrived on my door step addressed to ME. I did not recognize the return address and I could not figure out who it could be from. It was another secret sister gift! This time a fabulous candle and a beautiful dish towel to hang in my kitchen. This gift came from someone I have never met. So, I sent her a thank you card and in return she sent me a Christmas card.

secret sister candle

Despite everyone’s skepticism (including my own) I have no regrets in participating. I think if you are sharing with friends you know personally, and the original poster isn’t the only one benefiting and getting all the goods, then this is just a fun way to brighten someone’s day. As a mom it is rare I get gifts just for me. As much as I would like to I wouldn’t spend money on these things for myself (which are all things I love). Having someone take the time to purchase a thoughtful gift for me to enjoy is truly uplifting. I am grateful for the two optimistic and caring individuals who threw caution to the wind and made me their secret sister. I hope someone else did the same for them!

If you have the same concerns, or only want to exchange gifts among friends you can use this Secret Santa Generator at Drawnames.com (I have never used this site personally, nor do I endorse it. Just offering as a suggested alternative).

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy





On the Tenth Day of Service Give the Gift of Your Best Self


Our nine days of service have included some great experiences to share with the kids. I hope you enjoy the simplicity and are inspired to find creative ways to include your kids in service to others. Now, I am going to suggest you give back in a way only YOU can. Give a friend, a neighbor, or a stranger your best self.

How can you help?

  1. See another mom at school drop off who looks overwhelmed? Ask her out for coffee. As moms we don’t take the time for ourselves, we so easily give it way. But, if we schedule time with someone else we are more apt to follow through. Connecting over coffee will give both of you time to recharge.
  2. See a neighbor who lives alone? Don’t just drop off a note, knock on the door. Invite them over for tea and chat for a while. If they aren’t able to make it out of the house take them a meal and stay a while to talk. Giving someone your full attention even for fifteen minutes of small talk could mean the world to them.
  3. See someone who needs a shopping cart? Offer them yours. Give them a big smile and wish them a great day. The thoughtfulness of strangers can be very uplifting.
  4. Is there someone you miss talking to? Put away the to-do list and pick up the phone. Give them a call and check in. Ask how they are doing and find out what’s new. You’ll be glad you took the time to catch up.
  5. Look at people’s faces while standing in line at the grocery store. Talk to them about the weather. Notice something about them you like: a scarf, a pin, their shoes and give them a compliment. Talk to the cashier about how busy the store looks today and thank them for their service. It can be rare that someone tells us something nice about ourselves that even the smallest compliment can give us a boost.

I know all of my service posts have featured small acts with big impact. I’ve showed you how to package up gifts and cards and send them out to people in need. But, not all of us need material things. Some of us just need to be recognized. Some of us just need a little kindness in our day. Like a pebble dropped into the water the ripples travel outward until they join the current and create a big wave. Together we can start a tidal wave just by being our best selves this holiday.


Related posts:

On The First Day Of Service Host A Food Drive

On The Second Day of Service Host A Coat Drive

On The Third Day of Service Make A Special Delivery

On The Fourth Day of Service Send Some Cheer

On The Fifth Day of Service Give Some Swag

On The Sixth Day of Service Rise Together

On The Seventh Day of Service Make A Furry Friend

On The Eighth Day of Service Express Your Gratitude

On The Ninth Day of Service Share Your Spirit


The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy


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