Thursday, November 10, 2011

Welcome to the Ornament Swap Holiday 2011 Edition

Here we are again. It’s November and the holiday season is quickly approaching.  Along with all the traditional trimmings, the holiday season can bring those of us in the babyloss community a fresh round of grief and longing for our children who are not here to celebrate with us. No matter if this is your first Christmas, second Hanukkah or fifth Winter Solstice without your child; we all deserve some extra support at this time of year.

The Remembering Together Ornament Swap is back for a second Holiday season to bring some light and love to what is literally the darkest time of the year. By participating in the swap, you will receive an ornament with your baby’s name, hand-made with love, from a fellow bereaved mother (or father or family.) You will also make an ornament honoring a lost child to send to another family. 

We are hoping to make this year’s swap even better than last year by including more families in the swap. If you are new to the swap or just can’t quite remember how things worked last year, here are the important details you need:

How does the swap work?
It works “secret Santa” or “secret swapper” style. To join the swap, sign up using the form here. You must sign up by Friday November 18. Last call for swappers will be at 6 pm (EST) and we have to stick to that deadline to allow each crafter enough time to make their ornament and ship it to their assigned family.

The next day the Remembering Together team will compile all the participant names and conduct a random drawing to assign “secret swappers” (though they don’t really have to be secret!). We will send you an email with the contact information of the family you are making the ornament for, their child’s name, and some other preferences. Then you can get crafting!

At the same time, another participant will be receiving your contact information, your baby’s name, and your preferences. So keep an eye out for your ornament in the mail. Please try to complete and ship your ornament to your assigned recipient by Friday, December 9th. Sooner is better, but we understand that we are kicking things off a little late and you need time to make your ornaments.

I don’t celebrate Christmas—can I still be included?
Absolutely. Even though we are making “ornaments,” this is a non-denominational swap. When you sign up, you'll be required to list the holidays that you celebrate. Although there are plenty of lovely secular winter images that can be used in ornaments, knowing your religious preference could help your crafter design an ornament that works for your family. (For example, your crafter will probably want to know if you celebrate Hanukkah but not Christmas.)

How many people can participate?
We would love to spread the love as far as possible this year so as many people as sign up can participate. Please spread the word by forwarding the sign up email, linking to our blog, posting our button on your blog or liking our FB page.

I’m not very artsy-crafty—can I still participate?
Yes, please do. Your ornament does not have to be perfect. It really is the thought that counts. Some of the larger arts and crafts stores have ornament making kits for kids, which are a great option if you are not a serious crafter. Or you can buy pre-cut, unpainted wooden shapes to personalize by painting. We will be posting ornament ideas on the blog to help out anyone who needs inspiration.

What should my ornament look like?
Almost anything appropriate to the season. There are just a few rules. You must include the baby’s name (part of what makes these ornaments so special). The information collected during your sign up will also include significant dates, and any symbols or colors that you associate with your baby. Crafters are not obligated to include these, but may use them to get an idea of what the receiving family would like. Also please respect the parents’ religious/non-religious preference. And please try to include some kind of hanging mechanism (hook, string, etc.), so that it can be hung.

I have more than one loss. Can I receive multiple ornaments?
Of course. If you have multiple losses and would like more than one baby remembered, please fill out a separate sign-up form for each child. (This means that your babies’ ornaments will each be made by someone different, so they won’t necessarily match.)

I have a question about what my recipient would like. Can I contact them, or do I have to stay secret?
You don’t have to be “secret” swapper. You will have their mailing address and their email address and can contact them if you choose. Most likely, though, they will be happy with and touched by whatever you choose to make for them.

How much does participating cost?
It costs whatever you choose to spend on supplies, plus the cost of shipping the ornament to its recipient. (The organizing team will not receive anything, except an ornament from their individual secret swapper.) In order to reduce shipping costs and times, this year we will be attempting to keep swapper assignments with the same countries or at least the same general area of the planet.

Where do I send the ornament when it is done?
Mail it directly to the family at the contact information provided in the email that I will send you.

Am I guaranteed to receive an ornament?
I wish I could say yes. I am 99% sure you will each receive an ornament. Unfortunately there is no accounting for weather delays, family emergencies, things getting lost in the mail, or best intentions gone awry.

What if I sign up, and then can’t complete my ornament on time or at all?
Please let us know as soon as possible. We will try to find someone to cover for you, so that your assigned family receives their ornament. (However we cannot guarantee this.)

It sounds like I have to send you my private contact information. Is that safe?
I promise we absolutely will not distribute your contact information to anyone other than the person assigned to make your ornament. I promise we will not sell your contact information to any business or individual. Your contact information will be deleted from the swap team’s records by December 31, 2011.

If you prefer not to give out your information over the interwebs, just email the team at rememberingswap at gmail dot com. Someone will reply your email and we will work out a way to collect your information directly.

The holidays are so busy—I feel like my head will explode if I add anything else to my To Do List. We understand how you feel. Making these ornaments is intended to be a meaningful activity to bring comfort and provide a framework for processing difficult feelings. But it may not be what you need right now. Our wish for you is that you find the comfort and support you need, whatever form that takes.

What were those deadlines again?
Sign up by Friday, November 18. Ship your ornament by Friday, December 9.

The Remembering Together Swap Team


  1. Hi there--I just filled out the from (and am so excited to participate!) but wanted to let you know that when it asks for your baby's name, the form makes you enter an email address.... so I made one up just so it would let me get past that step and then included a note about it in the address section. Not sure if others are experiencing this problem either.

  2. Thanks for letting us know Kate, it should be fixed now.

  3. Beautiful, thank you so much!!