2016 Secret Valentine Exchange!!


It’s happening: the 3rd annual Secret Valentine Exchange!! Ute and I are teaming up as per usual, and we’re thrilled to be hosting this unique and all-around creative event. Based on the Scandinavian Secret Santa tradition called Julklapp, our first SVE brought 40 participants together and last year we had a whopping 100+ participants!

Essentially, you sign up and Ute and I assign Secret Valentines (we’re part of the gift exchange fun too). We’ll send you the info about the person for whom you’ll be making a gift, but you’ll be in the dark in terms of who’ll be sending you a gift.

The key points to keep in mind are:

1. Gifts should be made with materials you already have on hand (we encourage recycling and repurposing). This is not meant to be an expensive project for anyone.

2. You must be willing to ship internationally.

3. The gift should fit into a medium to large envelope to keep shipping costs down. There are no expectations to send more than one gift, but in the past couple of years we’ve noticed that folks love to include multiple small gifts, and that’s wonderful too.

4. Keep it fun and easy! No need to stress about what to make, although I know from personal experience that it could feel a little nerve-wracking to send your handmade creation if it’s not something you do regularly. Trust me, the gift will be received happily as many, many participants will attest. I know that quite a few tears of appreciation have been shed (I’m raising my hand high up here). There’s something magical about opening up a handmade gift, don’t you think?


Now, things have gone pretty smoothly these past couple of years, but with so many participants in far flung places on the globe, there were some delays with a number of shipments. If you’re sending to a particularly remote place from where you live, it’s a very good idea to build in extra days for shipping. We may try to assign folks in similar regions, but we also want this to have the full international effect.

Please use hashtag #2016sve on IG to get into the spirit of the event and for sneak peeks, but remember, it’s not necessary to have any kind of online presence. The idea was borne out of a desire to connect people in a way that no digital medium can accomplish, and we’ve learned that many friendships emerged from the Secret Valentine Exchanges. This makes Ute and me indescribably happy.



We’ve selected swans for our Secret Valentine’s graphics this year because Ute’s love of the beautiful creatures is well documented, and we feel they’re a fetching representation of this non-traditional tradition we’ve created. Here are this year’s gift tags (you don’t have to use them, but it’s a nice option I hope – I made them in two sizes), and the process is as easy as can be:

1. To sign up, fill out the questionnaire below by Wednesday, January 13th.

2. We’ll take care of assignments and send out the Secret Valentine info to all participants by Monday, January 18th.

3. Make something fabulous and ship it by February 7 (if you’re shipping internationally, you might want to add a few extra days). The tags are here! And don’t forget the Instagram hashtag #2016sve

4. Receive your Secret Valentine gift!

We can’t wait to see who signs up!! Are you in? Please feel free to contact me or Ute with any questions here in the comments section or at secret.valentine.exchange[at]gmail.com. We’ll also announce the exchange on instagram and you can find us there too (@ute_ig @sanaeishida). Hooray!!

Here’s the form – make sure to scroll all the way down if the form looks cut off :-):


UPDATED 1/14/16: Sign ups are closed! Thank you!!

32 thoughts on “2016 Secret Valentine Exchange!!

  1. Yay! I was just wondering yesterday whether there would be another one this year, and I was going to ask you, but it seems like you announced it before I got around to that! (:
    Hmmm, could you change the Mailing Address field to a multi-line field somehow, perhaps? I don’t really know how to enter my mailing address on one line without needlessly confusing the postal service! (:
    Thank you so much for doing this again, Sanae and Ute!

    1. I’ve modified the mailing address field to paragraph format, so I hope that helps, Jana! We’re so excited to dive into SVE again this year, and look at us, trying something sophisticated like an embedded form. 🙂

      1. Yay, that’s great, thanks!
        I’ll have to think a little more about what info I want to provide, and/or dig out last year’s application form, but I’ll definitely sign up again! (:

    1. Ute’s actually the brains behind it all — she’s the best! And I love the swans too. I originally painted them for Ute a few months ago. I made a birthday card for her because she’s such a big fan of swans, and so it feels even more appropriate to be using it as our SVE motif! 🙂

  2. Love the swan tags. Thanks so much for doing this again! I’m already eyeing my stash for the best stuff!

    1. Me too, Claudette! One of the benefits of doing this for the third year is that I’m not nearly as nervous about sending handmade stuff now and feel super excited!! Thanks for joining :-).

  3. Beautiful swans! I missed last year, so I am ready to MAKE. SOME. STUFF. Thanks for organizing– I love seeing all the beautiful, creative things that people make 🙂

    1. Fabulous, Michelle! I can’t wait to see what you make, and with so many more people on Instagram, I think it’s going to be extra visually rewarding this year! 🙂

  4. Love the swan painting. I’ve signed up, but accidentally submitted my form by hitting ‘return’ after I wrote something in the ‘additional info’ section. Can I add a bit more info to it?

      1. I submitted another form – but just as I hit ‘submit’ I noticed my blog URL hadn’t entered properly. Can you please add it? thirtynineblog.blogspot.com

        Thanks Sanae 🙂

  5. Hi Sanae,

    I don’t have a blog and up to this point I never needed to be present on any social media. May I still join in? I will create Pinterest and/or Instagram accounts today and will post some of the things I’ve sewn.

    I find this whole idea very exciting, mainly because I am relatively new to sewing and would love to challenge myself by creating something special for somebody other than me.

    1. Hi Daniela! Yes, absolutely, we’d love to have you join!! Please fill out the form and we’ll get you all set up 🙂 Thank you!!

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