Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

If I've noticed anything over time it is that creative people find one another... and in many cases help bring your creativity to a whole new level. Today's blog is compliments of my dear friend from Pennsylvania.

Nineteen years ago, while in graduate school, I started hosting an annual Random Acts of Kindness packaging party. It served two purposes. First, it was a great way for me to reconnect with friends who, because of the rigors of graduate school, I fell out of touch with. Second, it allowed me to share my obsession with mail - hoping in the process I might find some unsuspecting girlfriends who would keep me company.

I love sending packages. When other people are building their wardrobes and shoe selections, I am buying printed tissue paper, stickers, foam shapes, hole puches, crinkle of every color, sharpie markers, cool notecards, and above all CLEAN, NEW, WHITE BOXES! I have a collection that probably verges on excessive. What goes in the packages that I send is far less important than the cool packaging and thoughtful note surrounding the treat.

So what exactly is a Random Acts of Kindness Party? Once a year (usually two weeks before Halloween) I invite 10-12 women to my house (it can almost be more fun if the gathering of women is eclectic and don't already know each other). Their task is to bring to the packaging party two things - addresses for 3-4 people to whom they want to send a pick-me-up and a set of twelve small items that can be packaged in a box about 7x5x4 in size (bigger than that can be expensive to mail). Items are typically things such as fun packages of baked goods, bookmarks, candles, recipe cards, small picture frames, soaps, holiday socks, keychains, handmade braclets, etc.... All the items brought by your guests are placed on a community table from which they can shop around for the perfect combination of goodies to send the recipients of their packages.

My contribution is all the packaging supplies necessary to turn your package from simply being thoughtful to being the talk of the postoffice. Lucky party goers move from table to table selecting fun treats to mail to long lost friends, a neighbor needing a pick me up, an old boss or mentor, an aunt or uncle you rarely see, or someone else who is on your mind. Once the treats are selected, participants move to the boxing stations (usually set up all over the kitchen, living room, dining room). Here they select colorful tissue paper, crinkle, ribbons, and most importantly a notecard.

Before the packages are taped shut, one more small task! Placed inside each package is a small note reading "Catch the spirit, do a random act of kindness." This will often times spark a packaging party in another city (to which every once in a while, you might actually recieve and unexpected random act of kindness in the mail). Finally, the packages are wrapped, sealed, addressed, and then decorated on the outside with stickers and markers. This is why it is essential that the boxes are pristine, white boxes that have never been used (not even the pre-printed ones purchased at Target or the post office). I get mine from the Container Store, but if you don't have one near you, you can either order on-line or visit an office supply store like Staples or Office Depot (brown can work in a pinch, but markers are definately more vibrant on a white box).

Wanna do one? Either wait until September when I start planning my annual October party (and talking about it on my blog) or jump right in create your own occassion... St. Patrick's Day, spring break, or first day of summer could be examples.

The great pics are from my good friend's Random Acts of Kindness Party: Valentines Day! I was, in fact, the lucky recipient of a package - the fun contents of which you will have to wait until next Valentine's Day to discover! It, afterall, sparked a whole new fun and creative idea.

Signing off for the day....

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