Help me be an awesome secret pal.
May 7, 2008 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Help me be a devious, creative and thoughtful secret pal.

I belong to a monthly women's gaming group in my neighborhood - there are 12 core ladies who draw names and act as one person's 'secret pal' for a year. Last year my pal & I discovered fairly quickly that we had each other's names, so there was no pressure to be sneaky, rather just to continue to do nice surprise things for each other on a semi-regular basis.

However, the woman that I have this year is _hard core_ on this. To her, half of the fun is the speculation of who her pal might be. I really want to be able to be able to keep it anonymous for as long as possible.

I have found a secret pal friendly shopping site - - but I'm not impressed. In clicking through to the stores, they seem to be mom & pop-ish, and without actual recommendations or feedback, I am untrusting of quality. What I'd like to know is your best sneaky ideas for nice surprises to be delivered to her home. Also, if you know of any big online retailers who will deliver anonymously. While I can purchase things and try to drop it at her house in stealth, it's tricky because so many of us live so closely together and could be spotted. (Husband can also be identified.)

Things I've already done (it's early in our "year") -
* Flowers delivered to her house the month she hosted. Local florist was told it was a secret, and asked to keep the secret if she called to snoop.
* Had friends from around the country mail her postcards wishing her a good week.
* Regularly mail cards from around the city with different postmarks.
* Set up a gmail account to send her weekly anonymous emails. However, her work email bounces them back, so that's a wash.

Thanks so much!
posted by librarianamy to Shopping (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Looks like you're in the good old 'burgh. Perhaps Pirates tickets, delivered in a plain white envelope? Maybe a little typed note suggesting she takes her suspected benefactor? Would be a good barometer of how hot on the trail she may or may not be.

Also, a city-wide scavenger hunt could be fun. A note under a bench at the top of the incline, a note in a bathroom in the Warhol museum, a note at one of those ice cream places in Cranberry that I can't remember the name of, etc., end up with a spa visit at the old Kaufmann's store (is it a Macy's now? I used to work there but haven't been back in years) or something like that.

Also, I'm sitting about a block away from this awesome store mxyplyzyk- , full of awesome gifts that you can awesomely send to your friend. Have fun!
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:42 AM on May 7, 2008

If you see stuff you like on eBay, most eBay sellers would ship to an address other than your own (i.e. hers), and the return address would be the seller's, not yours of course.
posted by Penelope at 8:45 AM on May 7, 2008

This question makes me think of the stunts Amelie pulls in the movie "Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulin"! One good way to avoid detection is to not be predictable. You've posted cards to her, now post her three crazy mis-matched socks. Keep her guessing.

If I were you, I'd concoct some crazy goose chase like Amelie does for the guy she's sweet on, leaving clues at each rendezvous point to the next one, with a prize for her to find at the end. If your secret buddy is as into the speculation of the thing as you say she is, this in itself will get her going.

Or, post her things in the form of riddles she must solve before she can get her gift. For example, if your friend likes coffee, talk to the owner of the coffee shop she frequents and tell him about your little scheme. Buy her a coffee, and tell him she'll be in to collect it in the next few days. Then make a photocopy of a map of your town, with the coffee shop location marked, and cut the map up into bits and post it to her. She has to put the puzzle pieces together in order to find out she has to go to the coffee shop.

Have fun!
posted by LN at 8:47 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

For gift buying, go to drugstore, supermarket ect... and get one of those prepaid visa cards. Follow the directions on it and register it online under HER name and address.

when you order anything online use this prepaid card to pay, simply put her info in the bill to and ship to, except use your gmail email address. then you can order anything you want, and if she takes the time to inquire it will lead back to her, except for the email address, which she already has anyway....
posted by Mr_Chips at 9:10 AM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Go shopping on etsy. Lots of fabulous hand made items, and the crafters will be glad to keep the surprise for you. They will even incude a cryptic note if you ask. I sent several pieces of jewelry and fun little things through etsy to my former secret pal and she LOVED them!! Really threw her off because the things would come from all over.

Have fun!
posted by pearlybob at 9:22 AM on May 7, 2008

Agreeing with pearlybob here -- Etsy sellers in general (including myself, and including when I was running my own Etsy-like shop in the pre-Etsy days) are very very good about helping out with secret pal swaps since there are so many of them in the fiber world (my neck of the woods) and elsewhere. Just find something you like and contact them via Etsy before you order.
posted by at 9:29 AM on May 7, 2008

Little gifts left at odd hours with no note. Things mailed from the post office. Get trusted other friends who are part of the club to "slip" and make her think they have her?

Is there any chance of her tracking this thread down? How tenacious is she? Matt or Jessamyn might be willing/able to make this thread anonymous(?)
posted by JMOZ at 10:18 AM on May 7, 2008

One thing you might want to consider is a scavenger hunt. Start off with one clue, which directs them to another place where they get a small gift and another clue. Further, at each stopping point they have to do something stupid to get the clue. I did this on a workplace Secret Santa once. Waited until the recipient was sitting on the can and then slid the first clue under the door. From there he had to go around to all floors and do things like sing "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" to a room full of salespeople to get the next clue. At the very end he had a somewhat expensive gift waiting for him which he very much appreciated. Never did figure out it was me either...
posted by Rewind at 11:30 AM on May 7, 2008

Heh, we had such a thing happening in our group. When we had our group dinner, I passed down a plate of food to my secret pal, and someone (might have been me too, I can't remember) passed a bottle of wine.
posted by divabat at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2008

While I can purchase things and try to drop it at her house in stealth, it's tricky because so many of us live so closely together and could be spotted.

But it would be so much more fun for you if you skulk around the neighborhood at night, dressed in black, tiptoeing up her steps, leaving a present at her door, ringing the bell, scooting away (perhaps to a hiding place to watch her open the door...) !
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:59 PM on May 7, 2008

Do you have any extroverted type kids in your life, kids of friends, nieces or nephews that you could use as delivery people? You could have them deliver a single cupcake in a pretty box or get a little group of them to sing a "Good Morning to You" or some other goofy song at her front door. In winter you could have them stomp out a message in the snow.
You could send her a pre-paid pizza or anything else from a restaurant that delivers. Maybe you could catch the guy who drives around in the little musical truck and get him to deliver a popsicle to her.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:34 PM on May 7, 2008

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