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, My good friend Doren has done this for the last couple of years, so please excuse me and my other friends; Sophie @fifbrindacier who will be helping with the European side of things, Dave @Darktooth helping on the USA side and Pete @sixgill pete for his experience in this field. And @Bobby Rico for his help too. (see below). Anyway: Mostly quoting Doren from last year: Welcome to this years' Secret Santa Exchange. 2020 a FESTIVAL OF FOSSILS. The Secret Santa exchange is when you enter your name into a pool and get matched with another player to exchange gifts. We try to keep gifts to about the maximum $30 range so no one is sending an overly extravagant gift or a too menial one. When making your selection on what to send, ask yourself ; "Would i be happy receiving this? " All are welcome to play as long as you adhere to the rules. This is a Secret Santa exchange. The point is that your partner will not know who is sending the gift or what it will be until it is received. Your name will in turn be chosen for a different Santa to send a gift to you. Obviously, there is a real Santa, but I can't guarantee that he or she will be involved. It is crucial that the identity of who it is coming from be kept totally unknown, so no hints or contacting who you are sending to! Signing up for entering this fun event will begin today, October 2nd, and will be open until the cut off for entry on Tuesday October 27th at midnight, your time. You will then be matched with your exchange partner and the names and addresses will be sent out by midnight October 31st. Please PM me @Tidgy's Dad with your full name and postal address. There are three choices you can make for your exchange partner; 1. US domestic only. 2. European only. (includes Morocco, okay?) 3. International. (includes the ISS or any bases on the Moon, Mars, etc.) Deadlines for post will be most variable because of the world situation, postage costs are also often higher, some countries may ship by sea only which will take a lot longer, etc. International post could be cripplingly expensive so please check before agreeing to send two kilos to Europe which might cost you $75 or more. We still want to do this fun thing this year, but the world has changed. And not just because Doren isn't in it. Please post your parcels as soon as possible as the situation is changing everyday. The USA cut off date is the second week in November, but i know from my own experience that things are taking two weeks to two months longer than usual. USA internal post is better but i can't find a sensible date from them. Wisely it seems they're not promising anything. Please post as early as possible, if someone has a parcel on their doorstep for two months and has itchy fingers, it's much better than someone getting nothing until March. IT is important that everyone posts their packages well before any deadlines, especially this year. Everything is in flux, so better safe than sorry. Please do yourself and your partner the courtesy of posting in plenty of time. Doren and I argued about whether to post pictures when the gifts arrived or only on Christmas Day or after. I say whenever you wish, but one of the rules is that photos of the gifts you have received must be posted on this thread. It's all about sharing, folks. A few handy tips we have learned from past exchanges that may help the shipping transactions run more smoothly and avoid unnecessary holdups. 1. Make sure your items are cleared of dirt and dust as best as you can. Most foreign customs departments frown upon having alien dirt entering their country. 2. Check the box on your customs form as "Gift". This portrays a better indication that the contents are not being brought in for commercial resale. 3. In the past, when writing the description on the customs declaration, it has been found that something very simple like "Geological specimens for educational purposes" or "Study grade fossils for educational purposes - No commercial value." You don't want your gift to incure taxes if the tax office thinks they are going to be sold on. 4. For the contents value box on the form, make sure you give it a low valuation (Doren always wrote $10), no matter how high the actual value of the contents maybe. ($30 ahem ) Many customs department will charge the recipient an additional charge based on the supposed value of the packages' contents as declared on the form when entering the country. As it's a gift, we don't want our people to have to pay to get it released from customs! 5. Do Not put zero ($0) on the valuation section, either. This automatically raises a red flag to customs. Nobody sends a parcel though expensive postal services(especially in a plague) that is worth nothing.! 6. Please, please, please, package your items with lots of packaging material. The parcel may seem well packaged when sitting upright on your coffee table, but they get tossed around, jumbled, beaten with baseball bats, have heavier parcels placed on top, get turned upside down etc. You can never have too much padding, especially when you parcel is travelling halfway around the world. There is nothing sadder and more frustrating to anxiously await a package and then to find that the sender did not take the time to ensure everything was packed tightly and your gift is broken. If you can feel the slightest movement in your box, assume it will break. Pad every item individually and the spaces that surround them. HAVE FUN ! ! ! ! But, okay it must be said. This exchange is built on trust. All participants are putting their decent items that they have either found, purchased or been gifted on the line in the hope that the other players have done the same. We cannot control what members do, so please play fair. Do not send a box of trash rocks. We all want items that we would be glad to have in our collections and your gift should reflect that. Remember that this is for the 25th December Holiday! A major part of this exchange, indeed , a compulsory part is to post pictures of the gifts that you receive. What annoyed Doren even more than people posting late was people not posting what they'd been sent. Please photograph what you get when you receive it, before the specimens disappear into you collections. Share with us. We want to see what Santa sent you. That's half the fun! If you don't feel the rules and deadlines are suitable for you, then please refrain from signing up for this event. We have had shed loads of fun with these events in the past and hope to keep it that way. LET THE FOLLIES BEGIN ! ! !