I love when things work out really well. I got the idea to organize a holiday care package exchange for expats late last year and I’m so happy to report back that the first annual expat holiday care package exchange was a success! Let’s see what types of goodies everyone got along with what worked well and what didn’t…
My thoughts on my 1st annual expat holiday care package exchange
One of the hardest times of the year for someone living abroad is around the holidays. I figured I’d do something to add a little holiday cheer to the most wonderful time of the year by having the Oui In France first annual expat holiday care package exchange.
So in case you’re new here, I organized the holiday care package exchange among expats back in November. We had just over 30 expat participants who reside in the USA, France, UK, Greece, Turkey, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Morocco, Costa Rica, South Korea and Hong Kong. All but one package arrived safe and sound and I feel like the first annual expat holiday care package exchange was an overwhelming success. I want to thank everyone who participated for spreading the holiday cheer all over the globe.
Photos of the goods
First up, here are some pics of the goodies for your perusal. I asked participants to either email me a photo of what they received or tag it on social media with the hashtag #expatexchange14. Everything from edible treats like chocolate and cookies to tea and ornaments and other little trinkets made their way into packages. I loved checking out everyone’s pics and helping you all to play Santa.
What did I get? Well, the pic at the top of this post was from my match, Melissa in the USA. She sent me a beautiful bird ornament, my much-loved Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, treats for Dagny and more. 😉 Thank you!
Here are some of the packages the participants received (tried to include as many as I could):
— Alie C (@bierandcrumpets) December 31, 2014
A few of the expats who participated wrote a post on the exchange:
- You can check out Marissa in Greece’s post here
- Lauren in South Korea mentioned the exchange here
- Here’s Mike in Belgium’s expat Christmas post
- Check out what Cosette in Australia wrote about the exchange here
- Anita in France also posted about the exchange on her blog (original post is in Portuguese)
What worked really well:
- For the most part, everyone was really good with responding to emails, getting their package on time and being understanding when it came to shipping delays or little hiccups along the way. I’m so thankful for this and I didn’t have to chase anyone down too much for responses so thanks for being on the ball!
- It was a delight to have participants from such a great mix of countries. I was scared we’d have all France & USA expats but we had a diverse blend of expats which made it even more fun!
- Matching everyone up was surprisingly easy. I was so sure I’d mess up and either assign someone twice or someone not at all, but as it turns out, things worked out perfectly. I should give myself more credit because nothing got messed up!
What didn’t work well:
- Logistically there was a lot of back and forth between me and participants as to when things shipped and when things were received. With 33 participants it was OK, but if we have 50+ next year, I’ll have to figure out a better system. Next time, there will be just one opt-in email so there’s not as much back and forth. You’ll tell me you’re participating, fill out the little questionnaire in one fell swoop.
- Sometimes packages cost a ton to ship and then go missing anyway. As I mentioned above, a package from the USA never made it to Turkey (sorry Kristina!). I hope it’ll randomly show up in the spring. Also, about shipping costs, someone asked that maybe next time I can match people who request it up with someone geographically nearby. In some countries, shipping costs go up the further the package has to travel. Not sure there’s any way around the high costs of shipping unless we’re sending very small and lightweight items. Carriers like FedEx and DHL are fantastic and ship fast with tracking but cost an arm and a leg.
What can be improved on for next year:
- Start earlier. This will give me more time to promote the exchange and get organized and it’ll give participants more time to shop and ship. I’ll probably have an earlier “ship by” date as well so packages all arrive before Christmas.
- I will encourage everyone to make sure they include a card or note with their email address clearly written out. That way the recipient 1) Knows who the package is from and 2) Can thank the person directly. It’ll take me out of the equation entirely and I won’t get all mixed up replying to inquiries about if packages were received. Along with that, we can all take a picture of the box before we send it so there’s proof of the address we sent it to.