Planning for secret quonsar: 2015 edition October 14, 2015 9:52 PM   Subscribe

If it's October, it's time to plan for this year's secret quonsar swap! The secret quonsar swap is - for the uninitiated - our holiday-adjacent wintery gift exchange (Read About it on the Wiki). Let's talk details!

Over the past few years, we've extended the sending season by moving the signup period for secret quonsar earlier in the year and extended the discover & send period. As a result, everything seems to have run more smoothly. This is the proposed schedule for this year's quonsmas festivities:

November 1-10: Swap Signup Period.
November 11: Randomization Hamster Wheel Fired Up
November 12: Folks get notified about who they drew (This is a Thursday.)
(November 26: American Thanksgiving)
December 2: Shipping Deadline (This is a Wednesday.)
December 27: Second Chance Senders will not be needed because all gifts will have arrived*

In this model, Americans still have two weekends in addition to the Weekend of Shopping Insanity. It provides room around exam weeks at most colleges, allows for at least 3 weeks before Christmas to give many internationally-sent gifts a semi-decent chance at arriving before Christmas, and allows many senders the options to either take advantage of the aforementioned Insanity OR avoid it by shopping early.

We anticipate these swap groups:

Anywhere/International (You can receive a gift from or send a gift to anywhere on Earth, including your own country)
US Only
Canada Only
UK Only
Europe

The spending guidelines will be $10-20 again.

What do folks think?

Other suggestions about improving the process are also welcome!

This year’s quonczars are arcticseal, phunniemee, and me.

If you are concerned you might miss the announcement of the swap signups being open (due to exams, Halloween hangovers, creeping holiday stress, record-breaking pie-making attempts, work demands, taking a break from the grey, or possible alien abductions, binge-watching Matlock, et cetera), you can sign up to be notified when secret quonsar signups are open. You don't have to sign up anew every year - you stay on the list until you ask us to take you off the list! Every year, when the signups go live, you will get an email letting you know. Signing up for this list is NOT signing up for secret quonsar - just to be notified when sq opens each year.

* we can dream! If a gift has been eaten by the customs/postal machinery, one of our wonderful second chance senders - volunteers who send someone whose gift never arrived a second gift - will step up to send a second gift out. These folks are the unsung heroes of quonsing, and should be lauded near and far.
posted by julen to MetaFilter-Related at 9:52 PM (157 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

Oh Wonderful SQ Elves, thank you, thank you. I've been anxiously waiting for this announcement for the last couple of weeks. Favouritest time of the year. It's the best reason to join MF. Happy with all arrangements so far.
posted by angiep at 9:59 PM on October 14, 2015


Yay!
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:14 PM on October 14, 2015


Yaaaaaaay!!!
posted by mochapickle at 10:48 PM on October 14, 2015


I am planning the details of not sending part of my gift in a poorly packed breakable jar this year. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 11:04 PM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hear that Qwoz,
World-Wide-shipping.
posted by clavdivs at 11:32 PM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll keep an eye open if there looks to be an Asia Pacific group.

Shipping here in Australia to nearly anywhere is brutal.
posted by solarion at 11:49 PM on October 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was just sat here and admiring the paia shells that Catch gore me for SQ before last, this is a welcome post and I am definitely in again. Thanks to the organisers three.
posted by biffa at 12:16 AM on October 15, 2015


Yay!!
posted by Room 641-A at 1:20 AM on October 15, 2015


:)
posted by aaanastasia at 3:15 AM on October 15, 2015


We can still have an Australia Only or an Asia Pacific or an Australia/NZ group - we just need to make sure we have enough people to make it work.

We should have at least 4 participants to be in the group; more would be better. In the past, we've scraped by with 2 or 3 folks, which is a little tight (and if someone has to drop out, it gets problematic!) So if folks want some combination of these areas, speak up!
posted by julen at 4:20 AM on October 15, 2015


Ooh! I am excited to do this for the first time ever! I am unsure, though, to which region I belong. I live in Europe, but will be in the USA from December 8th on. So I will mail my gift from here (Europe), but anything addressed to me and arriving after the 8th will almost certainly be returned to sender.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 4:38 AM on October 15, 2015


That is to say, I will be back in Europe at the beginning of January, but the post office only lets a package sit for fifteen days before they return it.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 4:39 AM on October 15, 2015


I was just thinking it's getting close to Quonsar planning time! Yay! But the time table works for me.
posted by Captain_Science at 5:02 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


YAY! I love Secret Quonsar every year. It's great fun stalking posting histories and choosing gifts for people. That's totally the best part! Thanks so much for managing this again, Julen—you always do such a great job.
posted by heyho at 5:07 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE QUONSMAS.
posted by deezil at 5:08 AM on October 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


I bow to the mighty wisdom of the All-Powerful Quonsczars! And what the heck, I'll even ritually sacrifice a Quonsmas fruitcake to ya, too.

Also, am sending you a memail, Julen: see what you think.....
posted by easily confused at 5:21 AM on October 15, 2015


Yeah I think this year I will maaaaaaaaybe not send delicate handcrafted items.
posted by jeather at 5:45 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


How exciting! This is going to be my first quonsmas. Thanks for the wiki - very comprehensive and clear to a noob.
posted by Ziggy500 at 5:45 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm like lollymccatburglar-- except I'll be in the US mid Dec-mid Jan. Personally last year I used my work address (in Europe) for delivery, signed up as a Anywhere, and signed up as a second-chancer shipping from the US. I will likely do the same again, although if someone can convince me there's a good reason to sign up specifically as a Europe person instead, that would also work.
posted by nat at 5:51 AM on October 15, 2015


I was just looking forward to this. Thanks!

These folks are the unsung heroes of quonsing, and should be lauded near and far.

I'm pretty sure I've actually sung at least one song in honor of my second chancer last year, Munching Langolier. They're that awesome.
posted by Gygesringtone at 5:53 AM on October 15, 2015


I effing LOVE Secret Quonsar and I love you all to bits for planning and running it.

Hey, Quiet Ones...if your heart is pounding with excitement at the thought of joining, but your head is throbbing with anxiety about picking the perfect gift or that you're not a big enough player on MeFi to participate, join in anyway. You'll be fine. Everyone is appreciative of what they receive and you'll get a HUGE case of the warm and fuzzies.
posted by kimberussell at 6:30 AM on October 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


YAY!!! It's the most quonsiful time of the year!!!!
posted by Sophie1 at 6:39 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


fuck yes fuck yes fuck yes i've actually been mentally bleating 'is it quonsmas yet?' for a while, and thinking i was being premature and infantile and selfish but here it is oh yesssss
posted by you must supply a verb at 6:43 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I might actually do this for real this year.

This year... will. be. different.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:00 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yay!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:03 AM on October 15, 2015


Whatever you decide, I'm in! This is one of my favorite traditions.
posted by xingcat at 7:05 AM on October 15, 2015


Yay! I'm in! Thank you for doing this!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:13 AM on October 15, 2015


Aw, yay! Last year was my first time participating in quonsmas, and I've been looking forward to the next one ever since. Thanks for heading this up, julen, arcticseal, and phunnimee - your quonansal labor is much appreciated!
posted by DingoMutt at 7:15 AM on October 15, 2015


I'm in.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:30 AM on October 15, 2015


Yay!! ❄️ ❄️ ❄️
posted by wenestvedt at 7:50 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm looking forward to this again for this year. Thank you, as always, to the quonczars for doing the work to organize this.

For what it's worth, the proposed schedule looks great to me!
posted by sparklemotion at 7:56 AM on October 15, 2015


I'm really glad to see that MetaFilter is not giving in to the liberal MSM's "War On Quonsmas". I'm so sick of people telling me "Happy Quolidays" and seeing decorations featuring all sorts of animals in all sorts of items of clothing. Look if you want to celebrate your Quannukah or Quanzaa or frickin' Quogmanay, that's fine, but I'm putting a big old fish in a big old pair of pants on my front lawn, and I'm saying "Merry Quonsmas". Benghazi.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:56 AM on October 15, 2015 [28 favorites]


I have my traditional loaf of lead already ready, now I just need to save up for postage!
posted by GuyZero at 8:01 AM on October 15, 2015


Dear arcticseal, phunniemee, and julen. This has been a spectacularly shitty week. You three have made my week infinitely better. I praise you and your quonczar grace.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:08 AM on October 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


if you want to celebrate your Quannukah or Quanzaa or frickin' Quogmanay

I was about to make a Questivus for the Rest of Us joke but have decided that Questivus would be a great name for a holiday-themed annual scavenger hunt.
posted by phunniemee at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yay, looking forward to it!
posted by capricorn at 8:14 AM on October 15, 2015


It's the most wonderful quon of the year.
posted by griphus at 8:22 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


(P.S. I hope you like shit from Etsy and/or Amazon, quonsee.)
posted by griphus at 8:23 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


(P.S. I hope you like shit from Etsy and/or Amazon, quonsee.)

You gave gorgeous ear thingies to bibliogrrl that one year and she wears them all the time and every time I see them I think of you. That's gift appreciation, once removed. I think anyone would be happy to have you as a quonsar.
posted by phunniemee at 8:25 AM on October 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


After years of debating, I think I'll be in this year. I think this is an awesome tradition and for once I need to not be my usual grump around the holidays. So secret quonsar it is!
posted by nubs at 8:56 AM on October 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was about to make a Questivus for the Rest of Us joke but have decided that Questivus would be a great name for a holiday-themed annual scavenger hunt.


By saying this, phunniemee just volunteered herself to work with me on this for a 2016 release. (This comment is her first notification of this.)

I am super psyched for quonsmas this year and really appreciate julen and everyone else who makes it such a smoothly run event; thank you!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:07 AM on October 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I keep talking about vague plans for us doing some kind of hunty thing, might as well be this.
posted by phunniemee at 9:10 AM on October 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hooray, it's Quonsmas time again! The one time I participated, I got a wonderful package of carefully-chosen things and had just as much enjoyment from picking out a gift for my quonsee (I got to send them a copy of my childhood favourite science book!). I can't wait for this year's.

Thanks so much for the organisation, julen, arcticseal and phunniemee!
posted by daisyk at 9:18 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


*scoots over to the Cool Kids' table* This looks fun. I wanna play!

Is this different from the holiday cookie swap? Because that is another thing that looked totally fun last year but I was too shy to join.
posted by sciatrix at 9:33 AM on October 15, 2015


I'm interested, but I'm not quite understanding (even after reading the Wiki) how anonymous one can stay. If I were to give my name, who would then have access to that info? (Sorry, I know that I sound like a paranoid freak, but I have reasons for being a paranoid freak. But I would like to be a paranoid freak who sends presents, if it's possible!)
posted by jaguar at 9:38 AM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I were to give my name, who would then have access to that info?

Your randomly selected Quonsee, julen, arcticseal, me, and (probably not but just in case) a second-chance gifter.
posted by phunniemee at 9:46 AM on October 15, 2015


You can also give a work address, a PO Box, arrange with a neighbor or friend who is more liberal about their personal information or will receive something at their office for you, and some smaller UPS locations (which are franchised, FedEx will NOT do this) will hold a package for you if you go in and ask them real nice.

Try to make it as easy as possible for your Quonsar, though, please.
posted by phunniemee at 9:49 AM on October 15, 2015


This is the year that I lose my Secret Quansar virginity.


Pleasepleasepleasegod don't let it be as bad as when I lost my actual virginity...
posted by Dorinda at 10:02 AM on October 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Aw, crap. I'm such a noob that I didn't even spell Quonsar right.
THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF HUMILIATION I WAS AFRAID OF
posted by Dorinda at 10:05 AM on October 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Sciatrix - this is definitely different from the cookie swap. We write a little about what we love and what we're allergic to. Then we do a little snooping (at least I do) and we get to send a gift out to a random MeFite out there and some other MeFite sends us a giftie! I got ancient shark teeth two years ago! It was AWESOME!!!
posted by Sophie1 at 10:07 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


psst Dorinda that's why I avoided writing it out

come sit by me we'll gossip about being clueless togeeeether

posted by sciatrix at 10:07 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love you and I am so glad you guys do this every year. I need to give phunniemee cookies for helping (because she's the only one of you nearby).

YAY QUONSAR. THE BEST TIME OF YEAR.
posted by bibliogrrl at 10:08 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yay! And thank you! I hope I get picked to be a second chancer this time because my kids are grown and will be getting non-fun gifts like "auto insurance" and "socks" this year. So I am ready to double up on my Quonsing!
posted by headnsouth at 10:31 AM on October 15, 2015


my kids are grown and will be getting non-fun gifts like "auto insurance" and "socks" this year.

What? Socks are the best. Perhaps if your kid doesn't think socks are fun you should put "replacement kid" on your Quonsmas list.

Just a thought.
posted by phunniemee at 10:32 AM on October 15, 2015 [6 favorites]




Ooh, I'll join! This will be my first time! I'm a little nervous. But provided I don't have to make anything I think it should all be okay. Also, your gift may be wrapped in tin foil because I have no tape.
posted by triggerfinger at 10:53 AM on October 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have never done Quonsar. I would like to, but would have to specify Canada only as the exchange rate for us is just utter shit right now.
posted by Kitteh at 11:29 AM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm in. Thanks as always to the Quonsar elves who make this happen every year, you are awesome.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 11:44 AM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Woohoo!! I have been getting increasingly ratty about the amount of Othermas references lately IRL. Like go away it's not even Halloween ffs. But then I saw this post and my heart was filled with Quonsmas cheer and I'm excited already! The MeFite stalking is my favourite part. Be afraid, my future Quonsee...of getting awesome stuff!! Thank you julen and elves!
posted by billiebee at 11:46 AM on October 15, 2015


If I were to give my name, who would then have access to that info?

To add onto phunniemee's excellent response ... in the past people have provided a first initial and last name, a first name and last initial, and more rarely a business name, or - if sending within their own country - their mefi name in the name field. Customs might side-eye a box addressed to "Smugglin' Joe" or some other clever MeFi Names. We prefer that people use some form of their real names, but we also understand that there are sometimes very good reasons why people don't.

If you don't want to use a variation of your real name, drop us a line at our gmail address (secretquonsarswap) and give us a heads up that it's not a mistake! We do sanity check things that come in (to help people like me who would fatfinger Europe Only in the swap region selection even though I live in the US), so we appreciate a heads up. We do care about your real world privacy and security, and want this to be a safe swap, and so we're happy to work with you to find a happy solution.
posted by julen at 12:02 PM on October 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Signed up for notifications! Join me European mefites!
posted by ellieBOA at 12:15 PM on October 15, 2015


Yes, Yes, YES! Quonsmas was a shining beacon of hope for me last year and I love it so dearly. I'm not sure how many years of Secret Quonsar this will be for me, but if you're on the fence about thinking of doing it - do it! So much greatness.
posted by sweetmarie at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aw, crap. I'm such a noob that I didn't even spell Quonsar right.
THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF HUMILIATION I WAS AFRAID OF


Don't worry, it applies to Quonsmas too: 90% enthusiasm, 10% technique.
posted by Kabanos at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Customs might side-eye a box addressed to "Smugglin' Joe"

People just think I'm a YA author when I use "A.H. Day". So hooray for a most auspicious quonsmas!
posted by a halcyon day at 12:41 PM on October 15, 2015


my kids are grown and will be getting non-fun gifts like "auto insurance" and "socks" this year.

Yeah, phunnieme is right. Socks are a great gift. One of my quonsmas gifts was a set of socks! I was thrilled! Mr. Nat got me a sock subscription two years ago, and I was thrilled about that too. (I actually am quite well-socked now, two pairs of new socks a month for a year is a lot of socks).
Indeed, thinking socks (and underwear, thanks to my sister who has indeed given me great gifts of underwear) are good gifts-- may be a sign of not being 8 anymore.
So what? Mefites agree socks are awesome.
posted by nat at 1:36 PM on October 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh - how interesting...I went to sleep last night reminding myself to check MeTa for Quonsmas, and here it is!! I almost feel psychic (but not quite).
I'm in again - this is so much fun I can't stand it!
posted by dbmcd at 1:41 PM on October 15, 2015


I've never participated but I've been a regular member here for a long while and I think this would be a fun thing to do this year. But yes, as was mentioned above, I'd like to restrict mine for other Canadian MeFites if possible as the USD exchange is brutal for us right now, especially with shipping costs added in.
posted by Fizz at 2:10 PM on October 15, 2015


YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

*kermit arms*
posted by ocherdraco at 2:11 PM on October 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


This thread is also a good place to agitate for regional swap groups other than:

Anywhere/International (You can receive a gift from or send a gift to anywhere on Earth, including your own country)
US Only
Canada Only
UK Only
Europe

We've heard one voice for an Australia Only or Asia/Pacific group; if you have other suggestions or want to chime in on wanting the Australia Only or Asia/Pacific, please do!
posted by julen at 2:52 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


To the more inactive users who wonder if they should join in: YES.

Last year my secret quonsar turned out to be a longtime member who hadn't commented in several years—I knew nothing about him at all and hadn't ever seen his name before. I'm sure he didn't know who the heck I was either, yet he sent me a beautiful scarf that I love and get lots of compliments on! I'm so looking forward to cooler weather so I can start wearing it every day again.

Never underestimate the lurkers! We welcome your input every bit as much as anyone else's. For real.
posted by heyho at 2:52 PM on October 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Hooray!
posted by thomas j wise at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2015


We do care about your real world privacy and security, and want this to be a safe swap, and so we're happy to work with you to find a happy solution.

Thanks!
posted by jaguar at 4:02 PM on October 15, 2015


Can sockpuppets play, too? Even if it's just for second-chancing?
posted by Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch Kids at 4:25 PM on October 15, 2015


(P.S. I hope you like shit from Etsy and/or Amazon, quonsee.)

ETSY SHIT IS MY FAVORITE OF THE SHITS!!!!
dearest Quonsar, please make sure griphus picks my name this year
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:46 PM on October 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Can sockpuppets play, too? Even if it's just for second-chancing?

We ask that folks sign up only once, using their main account (It makes it so much easier on the person sending you a gift. Plus, if something comes up in your life and you have to back out, it is much easier for us to adjust the swap to remove one person than two. Also you could draw your sock puppet as your giftee, and it would defeat the purpose!).

The same holds true for second chancing. We've been extremely fortunate to have more second chance volunteers than people who needed second chancers in recent years, which is wonderful - both from the perspective of people getting their original gifts AND because it allows us to pair up folks better as second chancers (we use several criteria: region/area, geographical diversity - e.g. pair someone with a second chancer not from their state/province/region as appropriate, if they second chanced recently, particular skill with really specific or no guidance at all, what their gift statuses are, etc)
posted by julen at 6:57 PM on October 15, 2015


I love quonsmas. I've got some beautiful photos on my wall, cute little bike magnets on my fridge and a smiley face ice cube tray in my freezer from my previous years being quonsed. My favourite is when the package arrives and my partner and kids say, "Who is that from?" and I get to say "It's from my friends on the Internet". Like you are all fairy god/dess/avatars looking out for me and sending me cool stuff.
posted by Cuke at 7:20 PM on October 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have always been too intimidated to do Quonsmas, but I figured that if I could post on the blue for my first time this year, why not go crazy and sign up for Quonsmas this year too. Looking forward to it!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 7:27 PM on October 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm excited! Last year was my first Secret Quonsar, and it was great. I've been waiting, like a bunch of others it seems, to do it again this year.
Fish placed squarely in pants.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:29 PM on October 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Excited to Quons and be Quonsed again!
posted by spinturtle at 8:12 PM on October 15, 2015


Looks good. Shipping deadline still seems super early to me, but I get why. I'm in again. It's always amazing - thanks for the great volunteer work and organization.
posted by Miko at 9:06 PM on October 15, 2015


Yaaaay!!!
posted by Fig at 9:44 PM on October 15, 2015


I'm in - count me amongst the Australian group (that includes NZ too, doesn't it? *wink*)
posted by ninazer0 at 10:32 PM on October 15, 2015


I would also be willing to be join the Aus/NZ group if there's enough numbers to get one?

*sits with sciatrix and Dorinda in cluelessness*
posted by E. Whitehall at 1:14 AM on October 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm interested. This has always sounded like fun.
posted by gauche at 7:00 AM on October 16, 2015


I would totally agree to be on the main list and do do a couple second chances.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:51 AM on October 16, 2015



Good News! There looks to be enough interest for an Australia/New Zealand swap group this year, so I've added it to the list of regions you can select from when you sign up. Yaaaaay!
posted by julen at 8:01 AM on October 16, 2015


I have never done Quonsar.

yeah, i'd remember that.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:04 AM on October 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


Hurrah for julen and the team! Hurrah for the quonsar time of year! Yes, I am totally in again.

And we should do the cookie swap too. So fun.
posted by bearwife at 9:23 AM on October 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm in for the Canada only crew! If there's an Eastern Canada cookie swap, I might even do that too. I'm not sure they'd survive a trip from one end of the country to the other, that's all.
posted by peppermind at 9:41 AM on October 16, 2015


Quonsar was basically the gateway drug for me toward participating in meetups and chats and MeFi groups. It's a great, safe way to feel like you're a real part of the site and start behaving accordingly, kind of like bringing a hostess gift to a gathering where you don't know anyone. Pretty much everyone I know/am friends with from MeFi is due to that initial Quonsing, and I'll always be grateful to everyone who runs and participates in Quonsmas. Thank you!
posted by ilana at 9:42 AM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Secret Quonsar: A Gateway Drug
posted by nubs at 10:21 AM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ermergerd! Serkrert quernsher!
posted by zennie at 11:09 AM on October 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is your brain on drugs: 🍳
This is your brain on Quonsmas: 🐣
posted by Kabanos at 12:27 PM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I can sufficiently tamp down my neuroticism, I think I'll participate!
posted by delight at 12:42 PM on October 16, 2015


Preliminary Stats, Planning Edition

Right now, there are 461 people signed up to be notified when signups go live. Last year, ~60% of the folks on the Tell Me When secret quonsar Signups Are Open email list signed up, the rest of the signups came from folks who stumbled upon the Signups Are Open! MeTa.

75 people have signed up for the notification list since last year's announcement that Signups Are Open!.

Last year, 399 people signed up for secret quonsar in 6 swap groups. Of those folks, there were residents of 42 US States, 6 Canadian provinces, 2 Australian states, and two national capital districts. Only 1 person last year copped to being an Earthling.

Last year's gifts included 45 different animal representations/depictions/products.

We never did hear from that one recipient whether a gift arrived or not.
posted by julen at 6:23 PM on October 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm in and I'm employed, so I'm not worried about buying SQ gifts anymore!
posted by TrishaLynn at 6:37 PM on October 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have been a member for 5 years (a lurked for years before that) and have never done Secret Quonsar before but I think I'm convinced this year. Woohoo!
posted by mostly vowels at 9:16 PM on October 16, 2015


I'm in. I have two handmade gifts in mind, both of which will probably be relatively cheap to ship overseas, so I'm going to nominate for the international group. However, if the Australia-only group needs someone to even up the numbers, feel free to yank me outta the international group and drop me in the Aussie group.

(Quonsar elves are amazing, and I love them to bits.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 10:44 PM on October 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm SO in. Last year was such a wonderful experience that I'm already excited!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 12:36 AM on October 17, 2015


Eagerly anticipating the quonsening process.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:51 AM on October 17, 2015


Hurray signed up for the first time! I say, this is all tremendously festive, what?
posted by runincircles at 6:21 AM on October 17, 2015


The quonsening will continue until morale improves!
posted by daisyk at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm in. In Australia land. I did it once. It was great. But my recipient was a slow responder so I just bought him random shit. It was going to be great but he never answered my questions. Answer your questions people.
posted by taff at 6:57 AM on October 17, 2015


A+++, will quonse again.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:12 AM on October 17, 2015


I'd like to participate but I don't want to get someone something they don't like :(
posted by teponaztli at 6:16 PM on October 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


From a comment above and some comments from previous years, I just wanted to point out inarticulately and mostly pointlessly that the person you send a gift to is not (other than by freak accident) the person who sends you a gift, and likewise, the person you receive a gift from is not (other than by freak accident) the person you sent a gift to. It's like where you sit in a circle and everyone scratches the back of the person to their left or something. Everyone's back gets scratched (at the same time!) but it's not a mutual/reciprocal thing. Or something.

And I would like to second the request for people to answer questions from their quonsars and also add a request: Please - especially-especially if you have three or fewer comments - give more information in your ocherdraco questionnaire than the equivalent of 'I like long walks on the beach, sitting in front of the fire, having a laugh with friends, and swell up and die if I eat capsicums'. Unless you are genuinely happy with whatever randomness the internet sends you (providing it does not contain capsicums). In any case, please remember to thank the internet in the thank-you thread.

Also I remember the griphus ear-thingy present and as a result griphus is sort of the Ideal Quonsar that I hope someday to live up to. So far, no good, but a person's reach must exceed their grasp.
posted by you must supply a verb at 6:22 PM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a no- brainer for me to be an Elf for Quonsmas, iI think this is year 3 or 4. Everyone really gets into the spirit of it and for me, it really is the spirit of MeFi and the best part of the year.
It's been a crappy year at work with the recession in Alberta, so I've been absent from MeFi for a few months. Julen's mail asking if I'd take part really made my day, much in the same way that Quonsmas makes the next two months wonderful.

I'm in and you should be too. If you're on the fence, please take part, everyone is lovely.
posted by arcticseal at 7:45 PM on October 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Also, I'd really love a knitted octopus :)
posted by arcticseal at 7:45 PM on October 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'd like to participate but I don't want to get someone something they don't like :(

I have this fear, particularly given how amazing my quonsars have been (like, mind-blowingly awesome). I feel like I couldn't possibly make someone's day/season like that. But part of what makes SQ so amazing is (for me) the feeling that someone you (most likely) don't know (possibly a total stranger whose comments you've never read before or a lurker, possibly someone you know from metafilter but have never met IRL - although also possibly your real-life spouse, but that is rare) from this lovely internet community has taken the time and trouble to find out a bit about you and select and/or make goodies that they think will delight you or brighten your day or make you grin. And for me, the magic of a parcel showing up at work was less about the stuff inside the parcel and more about the fact of it all - even before opening anything, I was Snoopy-dancing all over my department like 'I HAVE A SECRET QUONSAR PRESENT LOOK'. And I am the grinchiest, most unpleasant person to be around in the Festivus season (actual exchange between me and my offspring: Offspring: Oooh, look at those decorations on the thing!!! Me: *looks briefly* They're UGLY.), and for the past few years SQ has sort of turned that around and given me a quiet little place in the maelstrom that is just for me and sanity-inducing and just generally a bright spot in a season that I actually really do love when I can get my head out of my ass. (and/or avoid most other humans.)

Um. So. All that to say, please go for it! It is unlikely that you will get someone something they don't like, and you will probably make someone grin.
posted by you must supply a verb at 7:02 AM on October 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


PLEASE NOTE:
If you've signed up for this list in a previous year, there's no need to sign up again!


Note: Everyone needs a hug.
posted by infini at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2015


Octopiiiiiiiii
posted by infini at 7:47 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Please - especially-especially if you have three or fewer comments - give more information in your ocherdraco questionnaire than the equivalent of 'I like long walks on the beach, sitting in front of the fire, having a laugh with friends, and swell up and die if I eat capsicums'. Unless you are genuinely happy with whatever randomness the internet sends you (providing it does not contain capsicums).

The flip side of this is: please believe people when they say they're happy with whatever randomness the internet sends them.

Just getting a gift from the internet makes me happy, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this. So please, if you're afraid of not getting the perfect gift for someone remember that the fact that it's a gift from the someone they've never met is probably enough to insure that it's just the perfect gift.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:10 AM on October 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


you must supply a verb and Gygesringtone have it: the mere fact of getting a gift, any gift at all, is enough to make my day --- if all I received was a half-melted Hershey bar, I'd still be thrilled, just because somebody, somewhere, took the time to send it.

Just holding the box is a wonderful feeling: a box you know is full of joy and happiness and mystery. The magic inside might be shaped like chocolates or handmade knitted octopi or something sparkly from a store or a homemade banjo, but it's all magic.
posted by easily confused at 11:14 AM on October 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


My first quonsar was in the middle of the disintegration of my marriage. I left my with nothing more than my purse and what I was wearing. My quonsar package was sitting in the house for a few weeks until I could eventually come back (when he vacated). Julen was so amazing through the whole process. If I remember right, my quonsee got both a second chance gift and the one I was eventually able to send when my life calmed down.

Last year, I missed the signups. It broke my streak of four quonsars.

Looking forward to it again this year.

And to anyone who is worried about getting the "right gift" for their quonsee, let me share this anecdote.

The other half of my first quonsar experience was that my quonsar gift was delivered while I was out of my home. It was a beautiful necklace made by local artisans in Kansas. There was also some soap and a book about identifying wild plants. The person didn't give their name or their mefi username, so I didn't know who to thank. But that gift was the only one I received that Christmas. It reminded me that there were people who cared about me somewhere in the world, even if it didn't feel that way in real life. Were the gifts things I would have picked for myself? No.

But they were a physical manifestation of the care someone had for me. It still makes me cry to think about how desperately I needed it.

So thank you anonymous Kansas mefite for reminding me that I wasn't alone.
posted by guster4lovers at 11:31 AM on October 18, 2015 [30 favorites]


SO excited! Can't wait to secret quonse this year. Tomorrow is an all day to indiana and back flight, and it's been a week, so this is a brightener!
posted by needlegrrl at 4:04 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ooh! I'm in again this year! One of the things I mentioned in last year's questionnaire was that I am always interested in local/regional specialties, and I received a big boxful of Seattle and that was so great!
posted by initapplette at 7:46 PM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


For those who are worried, I think my first quonsmas I was so paranoid I left only "Corb" and an address. It still got there. Quonsmas rocks. But really, people just aren't dicks.
posted by corb at 9:28 PM on October 18, 2015


For quonsar noobs, is it a better idea to go with the regional only category? I want to be part of the international group, but I'm assuming, reading previous threads, that this group is probably prone to more lost-in-post or late arrival issues because of having to cross borders. Is that correct?
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:20 AM on October 19, 2015


I don't know if this helps Ziggy500. I've participated the last two years and I joined the International group. I had no problem with deliveries/receiving. But I'm going to go for UK this year just because the shipping generally ended up costing at least as much as the present itself!
posted by billiebee at 2:58 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cheers billiebee!
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:01 AM on October 19, 2015


I saw a couple references to the "ocherdraco questionnaire." This is the ocherdraco questionnaire.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:58 AM on October 19, 2015 [7 favorites]


HERE COMES QUONSARCLAUS HERE COMES QUONSARCLAUS RIGHT DOWN QUONSARCLAUS LANE!
posted by eriko at 4:36 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm going to do this for the first time this year! Someone's going to get something incredible from Japan!
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 7:30 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


YAY!
posted by introp at 7:40 AM on October 19, 2015


Ok, just to be clear...I know it's been super-popular on the internets this year, but nobody wants a surprise super-hot ball of nickel in the mail.
posted by sexyrobot at 7:52 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Firing up quonsing engines.
posted by kalessin at 5:09 PM on October 19, 2015


nobody wants a surprise super-hot ball of nickel in the mail.
posted by sexyrobot


Are you good people gonna let some robot tell you what to do?!?
posted by Etrigan at 7:12 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


For quonsar noobs, is it a better idea to go with the regional only category? I want to be part of the international group, but I'm assuming, reading previous threads, that this group is probably prone to more lost-in-post or late arrival issues because of having to cross borders. Is that correct?

Choosing International can sometimes mean a longer wait for your gift to arrive. Some mail services process international mail slower; in other cases, your recipient may only get to their general delivery mail service once a week or twice a month. In some cases, the package is surely strapped to a jellyfish and sent off to arrive one day. In other cases, the package is practically slingshotted across borders and bodies of water to your recipient's door.

HOWEVER, every year, it seems there's a good dozen packages that take the scenic journey on their domestic trips; who wouldn't choose to go through Nevada when being sent from Charleston SC to New York City? And that 7 day layover in Sioux Falls on a package's trip from New Orleans to Baton Rouge? That makes TOTAL SENSE. At some point, in these cases, all three of the quonsar elves, the sender, and sometimes the recipient are constantly checking the tracking and taking bets on where the package will next wander off to instead of being put on a plane or a truck and delivered to the address written on the package.

In short, postal and package services are a mystery wrapped in magic, divided by beaurocracy and hangovers.
posted by julen at 8:18 PM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


(And it's not just the US! We've had packages within the UK and Canada and Australia all mosey their way through the country, stopping off to look for mythological monsters and count cool animals and visit ALL the sights.)
posted by julen at 8:57 PM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


We should actually start running a book on which package gets stuck longest in Des Moines. I could make bank on that.
posted by arcticseal at 9:58 PM on October 19, 2015


I'm suddenly ready for a sequel to The Box on The Table....

I might sign up for Quonsar, too... the cookie baking was such fun!
posted by Deoridhe at 12:40 AM on October 20, 2015


Yes, that Box. Whatever happened to it? Did it ever get sent?
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:47 AM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


After a break I am back in. Especially now I live in Istanbul and can legitimately go searching for the most awesome of awesome gifts for my quonsee!
posted by Megami at 7:59 AM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would be happy to quonse for the first time in the Australian / Antipodean / Asia-Pacific exchange, or, failing that, internationally!
posted by Quilford at 8:24 AM on October 20, 2015


I feel like it might be fun to sign up for a completely different region of the world than I am actually in so that I can get a gift that I am totally unfamiliar with, but I won't sign up for those regions, as they are likely peopled by quonsers who specifically do not want to ship across the planet. Might there be interest in a "Any Country Other Than My Own" group, or would that be too confusing for the quonczars?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:11 AM on October 20, 2015


Shipping deadline still seems super early to me

Still not early enough for ordering off AliExpress!
posted by Kabanos at 10:14 AM on October 20, 2015


I feel like it might be fun to sign up for a completely different region of the world than I am actually in so that I can get a gift that I am totally unfamiliar with, but I won't sign up for those regions, as they are likely peopled by quonsers who specifically do not want to ship across the planet. Might there be interest in a "Any Country Other Than My Own" group, or would that be too confusing for the quonczars?

I do not think a "Any Country Other Than My Own" group would actually work. The majority of participants in sq are Americans. So it is likely that a guaranteed other-country would have a population that we could not guarantee a true international distribution. In a group of 100 people, it is likely 60% of them (and I think I'm being conservative here) would be Americans. So all 40 non-Americans would send/receive from Americans, leaving 20 Americans up the creek in terms of Internationalization. The nice thing about the International swap is that non-Americans have a shot at getting awesome things from other countries.

I would also point out that if you do sign up for a region in which you are not resident, we'll probably send you an email pointing out the error and asking which group you want to be part of.
posted by julen at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


julen: "In a group of 100 people, it is likely 60% of them (and I think I'm being conservative here) would be Americans. So all 40 non-Americans would send/receive from Americans, leaving 20 Americans up the creek in terms of Internationalization. "

Makes sense! Thanks for thinking it through for me.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:26 PM on October 20, 2015


Yes, that Box. Whatever happened to it? Did it ever get sent?

It got sent! Amazing!
posted by Deoridhe at 2:07 PM on October 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


About the spending guidelines. In the thank you threads I often see people list a veritable cornucopia of items, and I say to myself, "self, how did their SQ possibly do all of that for $10-20?" Last year was my first year participating, and this was the one point that I got anxious about. Was I spending too little/much? Is there a secret club where everybody else knows it's actually closer to a $50 spend? Or $5? I guess my question is, do people actually pay attention to the guideline, or just do whatever they feel like/are able to do?

I'm ok with whatever the answer is, I'm just trying to cut the anxiety and second-guessing off at the pass. When in doubt I tend to overcompensate (ooh, I'll buy this, too, just to be safe!), but I also don't want to be that person where everybody is all hey spinturtle it's $20 not $40 why are you being such a bougie tool. (see, anxious. i told you)

maybe the better question is, how much on average do you spend quonsing?
on the receiving end I also fall into the 'half a melted candy bar means a mefite is thinking of me YAY!' camp. The stress is just on the sending part I don't want to do it wrong. Did I mention, anxiety?
posted by spinturtle at 9:55 PM on October 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


The way I've always interpreted it is "spend 15-20$ of new money". So Quonsees have sometimes gotten things in little knickknack boxes I've had around the house for whatever reason, but I don't count the cost of that since it's something I already had. Same with cookies or whatever - I don't count the cost of the ingredients. Does that help,"? But really just stop worrying.
posted by corb at 11:11 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, if stuff you already had doesn't count, then I've not spent anything at all last year, since I sent handmade things made from pre-used materials. I may very well do the same this year. Surely that doesn't mean I need to add $15 worth of random stuff in order to get the monetary value up?
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:27 AM on October 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I often see people list a veritable cornucopia of items, and I say to myself, "self, how did their SQ possibly do all of that for $10-20?"

I share this anxiety - I know people are not counting every dime, but growing up anxious about what money I had/didn't have does make me hyper-alert to expectations and their general tendency to creep up. Like, when I make cookies for Christmas, that is counted in my budget, because making lots of cookies is pretty expensive when you're on a lower income and don't habitually keep chocolate around or use butter in large quantities, etc. So while I totally endorse the idea of being generous and not sweating it by comparing at a detailed level, I also endorse the idea of people reining themselves in and not piling on the "little" add-ons that can sort of make some folks feel like their budget is too raggedy to play this game. Just a plea for modest spending, which I think is part of the constraint that makes SQ creative and fun.
posted by Miko at 6:09 AM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I feel like the important thing to remember is that it's a guideline, not a rule.

For $10-$20, you could go to a store and buy a dozen cookies and package them up and send them out. Some folks have the time/facilities/spoons to make the same quantity of cookies at home and maybe it only costs like $0.25 (or even free if you don't feel like trying to price the ingredients that you keep around the house anyways). But the fact that the guideline is <>
As far as people who "overspend," I'm not sure why that's such a concern. First, we don't know how much stuff is actually costing people (unless someone is sending out $100 Amazon gift cards -- if so, can that person be my Quonsar?). Second, if you're looking at it transactionally anyone who spends more than $20 knows that they should expect to get something worth less than $20 in return, so it's kind of their loss.

And then there's the time thing -- sometimes, it's just easier to find something that seems right for your Quonsee if you've got a little more leeway on budget. Not everyone has time to handknit something or visit all of the thrift stores in their town to find the perfect tchotchke, when Thinkgeek will ship out something awesome for $30.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:30 AM on October 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


As far as people who "overspend," I'm not sure why that's such a concern.

Because people generally try to be thoughtful and considerate and play by the ground rules for social activities, even if those ground rules are unspoken and possibly not aligned with the written ground rules. And, not having participated in the Secret Quonsar in the past, the only thing I really know about it is that there's a big thread where people talk about cool stuff they got, which (not intentionally, I know) can make people feel like they have to give a MeTa-Thread Worthy Gift, which might be hard to do for $10 if everyone else is spending $50.
posted by jaguar at 10:17 AM on October 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


The guidelines/money are the often most fraught and most stressful part of sq.

There is no one true way to quonsar (other than: send a gift. get a gift.), and there's no one true way to handle the budget. There are a lot of perfectly acceptable permutations (including whether you factor shipping in or not, whether you have it shipped direct, or want to send it yourself, being steely when paying for gift wrap but Amazon not actually wrapping it, going for handmade or not handmade; 1 big thing or lots of little things.)

If you find an alien holding a cat bobblehead on deep discount for $4.99 that you think your quonsee will really like and can ship it for $4, you are not "cheaping out"; you are doing wonderfully. Similarly, if you find a locally-made charming cutting board shaped like an owl for $19.99 that you think will make your quonsee happy but will cost more to ship (which you are willing to do), you are doing wonderfully.

Personally, I try to stay under $20. Sometimes that means finding the perfect item new on the marketplace, but sometimes I make/pick things out of things I already have (yarn in my I've had this for 4 years and am clearly not going to use it it for its original purpose stash, magnet materials I was already using to make my father a set of Classic TV Character magnets, vintage items that came out of a box-and-contents at an auction for which I've already made my money back, etc). Mostly, it's a case of what I think will give my quonsee an "Oooooh!" moment.

Your goal here should be to send your quonsar something they will like, find useful or tasty or visually interesting, be interested in, and/or will add a bit of delight.

Try not to get caught up in comparing gifts or gift-values. You don't know the true costs (deals and discounts, unused items recycled, cost of parts ameliorated over time) and assuming you do could be unnecessary angst (although people do splurge sometimes). The better point of comparison is "Did I select a gift that I think is in my quonsee's realm of interest/delight?". If you did, then you just rocked secret quonsar.
posted by julen at 11:36 AM on October 21, 2015 [16 favorites]


Thanks mefites for the excellent and varied responses, you've really helped me see that there is no one 'right' way to quonse. I think Miko nailed it (as she tends to do) with but growing up anxious about what money I had/didn't have does make me hyper-alert to expectations.

From this day forward I shall be a stress-free quonser! Half-melted chocolates for everyone, huzzah!
posted by spinturtle at 12:59 PM on October 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


And, not having participated in the Secret Quonsar in the past, the only thing I really know about it is that there's a big thread where people talk about cool stuff they got, which (not intentionally, I know) can make people feel like they have to give a MeTa-Thread Worthy Gift, which might be hard to do for $10 if everyone else is spending $50.

That thread is the de facto "check-in" thread, and posting about your gift allows your SQ and the elves to know if packages are received. Everyone is strongly encouraged to leave a comment because it's the easiest way to let your SQ know that their package arrived, a source of much anxiety if you sent your packed weeks before and haven't heard if it the SQ got it. (The elves are awesome about facilitating questions, but this avoids extra work.)

So yes, people are thanking their SQ and showing off gifts, but you're reading about most of the gifts exchanged so it's understandable that you would find some that stand out for whatever reason. I'm not dismissing the angst surrounding SQ --this will be my fourth year and I still get nervous -- but I guess I'm just trying to allay the fear that there are "MeTa-Thread Worthy Gifts." They are all Meta-Thread Worthy!

Honestly, cost has nothing to do with what makes a good gift. I'm pretty sure the most lusted after gift is a knitted, homemade octopus
posted by Room 641-A at 2:31 PM on October 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


In. I really hope I get arcticseal because I know exactly where to find a knitted octopus.
posted by susiswimmer at 1:25 AM on October 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


In, in, in! I swear, Quonsing is more fun than gifts to/from people I know IRL.
posted by shiny blue object at 4:16 PM on October 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


nthing an Au/NZ or APAC group, if we get numbers. Else I'm cool with being in international and taking chances
posted by matrixgeek at 4:13 PM on October 23, 2015


Based on the feedback so far, I'm thinking we'll go for an Australia/NZ group. I'm assuming the postage between the two isn't too arduous! Is this a reasonable assumption?
posted by julen at 8:20 PM on October 23, 2015


I think it's a thing of beauty. Thank you for your service to quonsmas.
posted by firei at 6:42 AM on October 25, 2015


Something new for this year!

The signups are open! and the you have drawn... emails will come from a new email address this year (secretquonsarswap at [my user name].net), although everyone will be communicating with our usual secretquonsarswap at gmail account. (We'll use the reply-to: setting, and forward emails from that account to gmail)

Gmail has restrictions on the number of emails you can send AND the number of recipients you can send to from their service in a 24 hour period, and they have algorithms in place to discourage people from using to spam the world. There are almost 500 people on our signups are open! notification list (coincidentally, gmail's limit for unique recipients in a 24 hour period is 500!), and I suspect mailing out two mass mailings (Last year, we had around 399 people participate in sq) in a 10 day period would trip their algorithms and lock us out .

The other restriction is that we can send out only 100 emails from a spreadsheet in a 24 hour period; this will effect signup confirmations in that in the first few days folks might have to wait 12 or 24 hours to get the confirmation that they've signed up. That's minor and very manageable.

So if you want to go ahead and add secretquonsarswap at [my mefi handle].net to your email whitelists, please feel free!
posted by julen at 1:04 PM on October 28, 2015


(argh! Affect. Dang it all to that back room where packages go to wait and wait and wait before finally being delivered.)
posted by julen at 6:39 PM on October 28, 2015


Well, to be fair, you sending those emails does effect signup confirmation.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:25 AM on October 29, 2015


sign ups are open!
posted by julen at 9:46 PM on October 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


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