Secret Sister Stamper

Secret Sister/Secret Stamper/ Swaps
Typically limited to one particular group/community. Each community/hostess has their own guidelines so this is a basic summary of how a variety of SSS can be run.
You sign up for a given period of time and you must be serious and committed to follow through on all required elements. In some groups, lack of your commitment (no package, late package) to the swap time frame may get you booted from the community.  If this is within a community, you are required to post anything you receive to the email group/ message board.
In some communities, you can also post under a set ID not to reveal yourself to anyone. There are many people using the same ID so you need to address your SS by name or location.  In some cases, conversations between SS and the receiver end up on the board without the SS knowing who her SS truly is by the  “Veil of Secrecy” nom de plume.
You will be asked to fill out an application (in some cases) and you will be matched with someone.  Some questions on the application may include your birthday, anniversary, favorite colors or stamp themes,  things you like, stamping things you need, techniques you would like to learn, favorite snack, favorite stamping elements, tools you cannot get but need and if you use unmounteds and type of system you use with them, etc.
Another important question is: “Will you be willing to mail overseas”, which is a postage expense for you in addition to the amount you will be spending the duration of the swap.  You also have to figure in the mail service too and how fast your packages will travel so you end up mailing a bit earlier than the others so it makes it on time.
Commitment times vary per group so make sure you can devote your self to the time frame expected.  Commitment times can be 6-8 weeks (usually the seasonal swaps are this short time frame, like Secret Santa swaps), 3 months, 6 months, or 1 year (a bit long an could be expensive).
Send out times are established by the group and you must send out by that time per month.  If you are going to be late, you need to notify the swap coordinator.
You are sent a name/address you are to keep secret for the set time of the swap and mail items specified to that person for the duration of the swap.  Your last item sent to the person is when you reveal yourself.  Think of clever ways to do this to make it more exciting.
Ecards can be sent to your SS anytime during the swap.  You can even send instructions or scans to them.  Typically, in order to not reveal your true address, some groups have specified an email address you can use to send these as the “sender” address.  You can always set an account up yourself.  Personally, I like to use the group address and send out to my SS using cybercard companies that do not have character restrictions on a message. (see below for these links)
Swap items vary.  Here are some ideas on expectation:
1. Send a box of items worth x amount of dollars per month.  In some groups they have a selection of how much money you would want to spend and match you up with a similar person in the same category. Keep this set monthly figure in mind and also add in the estimated postal charges before committing, you may not be able to afford it.
2. Card SS have card challenges so each month you would be required to produce a card or two pertaining to a set theme or color, sometimes technique or card type.  At the end of the set period, you are required to send a small gift to your SS and reveal yourself.  These are the easiest SS swaps to join and not hard on the wallet. 
3. Shorter seasonal swaps require you send things every couple of weeks, which amounts to 3 send outs, the third or fourth being your “unmasking”.
Some SS problems:
1. People who drop out.  Usually, they get the boot and a new SS is established.  When one person drops out, it could effect 2 people.
EX: Mary is sending to Jane and Jane is sending to Sally. Jane drops out.  So now Mary has to send to someone else and Sally needs some one else also.
If the swap is set up like a domino effect, there is no problem filling in the now missing link, however, in a situation where an exchange is set up, Mary sends to Jane and Jane sends to Mary then Jane drops out, another person would have to step in.
2. Uncommitted people.  These are people who are late or do not live up to the participation expectations.  Usually they are sent a reprimand by the coordinator and if they don’t shape up, they are not allowed to play again.
3. Missing packages.  This happens so it is best to do any of the following: delivery confirmation, insurance, send UPS/FedExpress (expensive but secure).
4. Remedies for missing packages or dropouts: if the group is small, a message is sent to all within the community to ask people to be kind and spare something to send to the hurt and upset SS.  For the most part, there is much support for this from other stamper’s hearts.
List of RAK/Secret Swap items/ideas