May 28, 2010
As the founder of the Homeschool Swap over at the Homeschool Post, I get the fun task of pairing the swappers. Usually, I pair swappers in the order they come in, preferring to let the seemingly random order for a swap play itself out. Who knows, maybe God wanted the swap to be exactly like it ends up for a reason, right?
Every now and then, though, I just can't help myself - I have to hand-pick a swap partner. Renae (of Life Nurturing Education) was one of those chosen picks. You see, I spent some time at her house on the way back from Asheville, North Carolina after one of my whirlwind blog conference road trips. I tweeted out that we were on our way back and very tired... and she offered me a place to stop and rest (even though we got in very late). She gave up her bed for us and slept with her children, and she cooked us pancakes. She's the most wonderful, generous, and loving sort of person you could ever meet.
And I had a disc full of photos of our short time there to share with her. So I had to pick her as my swap partner - to force myself to finally send her the pix!
I'm so glad I did. Her sweet card had me in tears.
Renae is a GOOD SWAPPER. Want to know how you can be a good swapper, too?
How to Be a Good Homeschool Swap Gift Giver:
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR SWAP SISTER.
Read your swap sister's questionnaire. That seems like a simple thing, but often times, we get so busy that we just grab whatever we think is a good swap gift for our own tastes and dig through email for the address in a last minute rush (I know this because I'm guilty of doing it every now and then). Really get to know what she likes and imagine the things she might like to receive. After all, you aren't buying for yourself.
Renea sent me a Special Dark chocolate bar (something I had on my list).
2. EMAIL your swap sister and get to know her even more.
Ask her about your ideas for swap gifts. Maybe you have something (like a movie or book) that you want to share with her - but you need to know if she already has it. Don't be afraid to ask. Busy homeschool moms don't need extra errands to run - returning things they don't need.
Renae sent me a used library book about Texas plants and natural things because she talked with me (over email) about how we enjoy nature study, love Texas, and adore books. She knew my son really likes bugs, too. You really can't go wrong with books for a homeschool swap - especially if you clear it with the swap sister that she has an empty spot on the shelf and the book isn't already in her collection!
3. INCLUDE HER KIDS.
That's an easy one... that really goes without saying. On each questionnaire, there's a blank for how many children you have and their ages. If you email your swap sister, you might even find out more info about what the likes and dislikes of her children are. Renae had her kids draw for mine, and she included parts of the swap gift (like the books, the pretty office supplies, the magnets, etc) that the kids could get excited about.
You wouldn't believe how often I hear from swappers that something in the box disappeared as soon as the children scattered - because a kid claimed it for their own! Make sure your box has something for everyone and you'll be a swapping hit!
4. PERSONAL THOUGHTS and PRAYERS matter.
Sometimes the best part of the swap box for me is the note of encouragement from a friend - a fellow sojourner on this homeschool path that understands the difficulties we face. It is especially helpful if you get to know a little about your swap partner enough to leave them a message that is personal to them. Since Renae and I had met briefly in real life, her note was even more special. In fact, it had me in tears. It is certainly a keeper.
We have a spot on our questionnaire for prayer requests, too. It is the highest honor a person can have to stand in the gap for someone else - in real prayer. You may not know how the prayer resolved in their life, but you can make a real difference if you pray for someone else. I'm sure that Renae prayed for me - her note eluded to that fact.
5. HEAVY ON THE HOMESCHOOL.
Homeschoolers are notorious for the love of books, sharpies, mechanical pencils, spiral notebooks, binders, office supplies and art supplies. You are almost always going to make a homeschool mama happy if you send a little in your package that will make her "day job" run smoother. I like to send cooking supplies as well as office and school supplies - because cooking is part of our school and a big part of our day.
6. CHOCOLATE TASTES GOOD - EVEN MELTED AND RE-FROZEN.
That one should speak for itself. If your swap sister says she loves chocolate, don't be afraid to mail her some, even if it is 106 degrees outside in August and she lives in Texas. Just sayin'.
There you have it. Renae has modeled for us a GOOD SWAPPER. I hope I can be like her when I grow up.