In February I opened up an invitation to a Handmade Joy Exchange.
I'd organized these exchanges in the past, three years running, but it had been a few years since the last one. With the state of current events, I thought the world could use a little more creativity, a little more joy and a little more love (ok, a LOT more of each) and decided to host another exchange.
By the time the invitation closed, I had 40 people signed up (more than the other three years put together!). They came from all over the world: sixteen US states and seven countries including Spain, France, Australia, Denmark, England, Greece and Algeria!
Seven of the 40 had participated in at least one Handmade Joy Exchange in the past. Four had joined me for all three of the previous exchanges.
This year with such a large group (and a nice, round, even number of participants) I decided that I would not send or receive a bit of Handmade Joy. My gift would be the exchange itself.
It was so exciting to see the photos arriving in my inbox and hear the joyful responses as people received their packages in the post.
Such a variety of different media.
So many different types of crafts.
So many different styles.
Joy comes in so many different forms. No two people interpret the phrase "Handmade Joy" in quite the same way. Looking at these photos fills me with joy. I know that the world is a little bit brighter because of all this creativity, generosity and goodwill.
I really wish I could more fully delve into the story of each of these pieces of joy, but I can only share a glimpse here. Fortunately some of the Handmade Joy Exchangers have shared their experiences on their blogs and on Instagram (and some will be doing so soon, so check back for more links):
Stephanie B (also here, here and here)
Here's a huge thank you to each of the participants. It fills me with hope to know that complete strangers want to share their creativity and spread joy and love to people that they've never met. I hope that through this exchange some of you have made connections and friendships that will last into the future.
If you didn't participate but are wishing you had, how about taking the time to put together a surprise package for a friend you haven't talked to in a while? Even sending a handwritten note is a simple way to spread some joy and love (and it doesn't take a big time commitment or much money, either).
Finally, one of the participants of the exchange suggested that she'd like to share joy and love in a way that will make a more meaningful difference in someone's life. War, poverty, hunger, natural disasters, they're an ever-present reality. Easing them with creativity and love is a wonderful idea. I figured I'd do a little roundup of suggestions of charities and share that here, too.
After a little research I re-thought the idea. This post on Abby Glassenberg's While She Naps blog explains why. It's from a few years ago, but it completely makes sense (and take the time to watch the silly video to get the full picture). Donating money does more good than donating specific items. If you're looking for a charity, check out Charity Navigator. Still want to donate a handcrafted item? Work with a local organization and talk to them ahead of time to see what is most needed and will do the most good.
Wishing you joy!
Image 1 (left to right)
top: Lisa C, Gretchen P, Laura B; middle: Betsy H, Sedona R, Stephanie B; bottom: Dana B, Jennifer M, Anne-Flore M
Image 2 (left to right)
top: Simony S, Lee B, Danielle G; middle: Ida PB, Karen LR, Lucy A; bottom: Becca R, Heather S, Deb D
Image 3 (left to right)
top: Karen S, Eleni S, Deb D, Becca R; middle: Joan B (2), Cindy M; bottom: Kels O, Sedona R, Sharon R
Image 4 (left to right)
top: Simone W, Sharon B; middle: Gloria F, Bella B, Sonia H; bottom: Judy H, Michelle P, Ashlie B
Image 5 (left to right)
top: Janet O, Stephanie B, Sarah V; middle: Ishrat K, Karen W (2); bottom: Nichole W, Peggy H, Lori S
Image 6 (left to right)
top: Yeissen L, Karen LR, Kels O; middle: Besty H, Judy H, Anne-Flore M, Jennifer M (the tiny photo beneath the last photo in the middle row is a close-up from Simone W's creation); bottom: Deb D, Sarah V, Sonia H, Dana B