Happy New Year + 2017 Secret Valentine Exchange!


[UPDATE 2: Sign-ups are now closed! We have over 400 participants!!!!!!! Please double-check your confirmation emails to see if you have any missed or incorrect information in your form and let us know so we can update everything before we send out assignment emails (if you could let us know before Wednesday, January 11th, that would be awesome). Thank you, thank you, thank you!]


[UPDATE: We are at 300!!! So exciting!!! Please note that we’ll be closing sign-ups at the end of the day today (January 6th)]

Happy 2017, my friends! Can you believe it?? We’re embarking on the 4th annual Secret Valentine Exchange!! Ute and I are co-conspirators as always, and we’re delighted to be hosting this non-traditional Valentine’s handmade event! Based on the Scandinavian Secret Santa tradition called Julklapp, our first SVE brought 40 participants together and last year we had nearly 200 participants! SVE is such a fun way to spread love and cheer through handmade goods and we’ve been blown away by the level of creativity every year. If you’ve taken part before, the following information will be familiar (thank goodness for copy-and-paste), but we’ve added a couple of new points so please read through the post.

SVE is super simple! Sign up using the Google form at the bottom of this post and Ute and I will 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.


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. It probably goes without saying, but please make the gift yourself.

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 above and beyond expectations over the last three years, but with so many participants in far flung places on the globe, there were some delays with a number of shipments and a few missed packages last year. 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 and to add tracking if at all possible. Also, we know that life gets busy and stuff comes up. Ute and I are both flexible folks and we understand if gifts may end up a little late or if there are extenuating circumstances. We’ve both been there. However, because we want to ensure that everyone is giving and receiving, please only sign up if you know you can definitely commit to making and shipping a gift.

To get into the spirit of the event and for sneak peeks, use hashtag #2017sve on IG, 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.

The process is as easy as can be:

1. To sign up, fill out the questionnaire below by Friday, January 6th.

2. We’ll take care of assignments and send out the Secret Valentine info to all participants by Saturday, January 14th.

3. Make something fabulous and ship it by February 7 (if you’re shipping internationally, you might want to add an extra week or so). And don’t forget the Instagram hashtag #2017sve

4. Receive your Secret Valentine gift!


As always, I made some printable tags. Feel free to download them here or click on the image above. I also added a couple without “2017 SVE” on the parcel boat for general purposes if you happen to like the design and want a cute little gift tag with a narwhal-riding mermaid.

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). Huzzah!!

22 thoughts on “Happy New Year + 2017 Secret Valentine Exchange!

  1. Yay! Thank you for organizing is for us all again! My mother in law found out about it and wants to join in this year, too! Happy Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. I’m so excited about our new exchange! Can’t wait to see some teasers on IG! And your illustration for this year is just so wonderful! Let’s do this!

  3. This is the happy start to 2017 that we all need! I love that my making period for SVE always falls right when we have an annual summer holiday. I’m forced away from my sewing machine and have to purse some transportable crafty endeavour while sitting under the trees with my feet in the river, vaguely supervising the kids.

    1. Oooh, we’re always totally impressed with your crafty endeavors, Shelley! Looking forward to what you come up with this year and hey, river-dipped feet whilst the littles frolic sounds dreamy!

  4. I just found out about this through a friend on instagram, is there a place where I can see examples of what people have sent in the past? I would love to see dome ideas before I decide if I am ready to commit. Thanks!

  5. The tags are so beautiful! I don’t think I can make it to join SVE this year but I love the idea so I’ll definitely keep it in mind for next year. Happy New Year Sanae!

    1. Let’s hope that SVE will continue for years and years, Eva! Hope you can join next year, and thank you for your sweet words about the tags. The mermaid/narwhal combo was so fun to paint!

  6. Your illustration alone makes me want to sign up but since I will be going back to school full-time I do not want to commit to something I may not be able to fulfill! I really enjoyed it the one year I did it. Glad to see it is growing every year.

  7. Oh man! I totally meant to sign up and just missed it! So cool that there are over 400 participants! For suring writing myself lots ofvreminders for nextvyear!!! <3 <3

  8. Oops looks like I’ve just missed the deadline! There is always next year?! I really enjoyed taking part last year. Have fun everyone!

    1. Ack! We just sent out the last of the partner emails — otherwise we would have totally tried to squeeze you in, Caroline! Yes, next year for sure!!!!

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