Image: Oh Comely
This month I took part in a very exciting project which is run by Oh Comely magazine. Every so often, Oh Comely sets up a 'Perfect Strangers Package Swap' where applicants are able to sign up to send and receive a package to and from a stranger allocated by the Oh Comely Team.
Being my first time taking part, I was a bit wary initially about signing up (especially because there is a small sign up fee), but I think this is totally necessary because, in the past, there were instances in which some people didn't receive any packages at all despite creating and sending a thoughtful assortment of gifts. So the fee is there to ensure that the people who do sign up are certain they want to take part, and that really reassured me.
Once you sign up on the Perfect Strangers portal, you can add your details, a short bio about yourself, whether you want to write a letter to your perfect stranger and whether you want to send your parcel overseas or in your own country. From there, you are given a date of when you can send your package. You are also able to let your allocated partner know when you have sent their parcel as well as inform your partner when you receive theirs.
I sent mine off quite early as I was keen to be as organised as I could; so organised, in fact, that I completely forgot to take a picture of the unwrapped contents, so I can't share visually what was in the package I put together. I included a letter, Womankind magazine, some baby socks (my swap partner just had a baby!), a sweet smelling candle, a handmade necklace, a recipe card, a zine and a few stickers.
As for the package I received in return, I could not be more grateful about how wonderful and thoughtful it is! My package also happened to arrive on a day when I wasn't feeling my best, and it brightened my day. My swap partner lives in New Zealand, and she took great care with choosing items that reflected her country. Here is a breakdown of my package:
1. Special edition New Zealand chocolate (just released) in Marlborough Sea Salt and Caramel Brittle and Nelson Pear and Manuka honey.
2. Vintage storybook illustration necklace- handmade by my Perfect Stranger (I added a close up shot, how gorgeous is it!?)
3. A novel by a New Zealand writer, Kirsty Gunn. I'm excited to read it as I haven't read any NZ literature
4. Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Tart. I'm just going to make a note to self right now that I need to make this asap. It sounds delicious!
5. Artisan almond and NZ Manuka honey soap
6. A gorgeous notebook, featuring Lancewood leaves. My swap partner wrote that she loves this tree and added that 'it is an awesome metaphoric image. The tree starts off flimsy and jagged and grows into something completely different - unrecognizable - strong and robust'.
7. Pencil engraved with an Andy Warhol quote: 'Isn't life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?'
8. A wonderful card featuring photography taken by my swap partner with lovely words inscribed inside
9. A post card showing part of the map of NZ (and arrow pointing to my swap partner's hometown. A nice personal addition)
After such a great first experience, I would definitely take part in the Perfect Strangers swap again. There's just something heartwarming about putting together a package for a person you've never met, and knowing it will make them smile. And of course, being at the receiving end is just as exciting! It's a great way to ignite a friendship: I'm hoping to get into touch with my swap partner, as we have such similar interests.
All in all, if you're curious about this project, I'd 100% recommend taking part in upcoming swaps. It was certainly the highlight of my month.