sending letters to strangers.

Wednesday, December 4

I took part in Oh Comely’s November Care Package Swap Project a few weeks ago. Oh Comely - in case you haven't heard of it - is a quirky magazine with the motto 'keep your curiosity sacred’ (words to live by, I think.) It’s full of beautiful natural-light-filled photographs, illustrations, interviews with interesting people, recipes, and articles on what could be called 'extraordinary ordinarinesses'.  

I came across it in WHSmith one afternoon about three years ago and remember writing in my journal about how finding it had ‘reignited my enthusiasm for, really.’ (More than could be said for the “read all about how two mildly famous people lost weight and here’s some free lip-gloss” sort of women's magazine.)

So yes... the swap-box project. The idea was simple: you were paired up with a stranger, you put together a box of surprises for each other – including one.) something personal, two.) an inspiring snippet, and three.) a wintry treat – and then you popped your box in the post and sighed a happy sigh of creative achievement. Lovely.

Here’s what I put in mine:

-  A nice pen (Uni-Ball Eye Rollerball, black ink, fine tipped
-  Some teabags (assorted varieties) 
-  Clipper Fairtrade Hot Chocolate (plus marshmallows)
-  A few tealights (to brighten the grey skies) 
-  A copy of Winnie the Pooh (and a letter, written with evangelical fervour, detailing why this is a book that deserves to be read*) 
-  An envelope full of inspiring quotes 
-  A Toblerone 
-  A recipe for Courgette Soup that we make every year at Christmas (given by a dear family friend) 
-  A playlist
-  ...and some crocodile socks (or maybe they were alligators. I'm not sure). 

Putting it all together was quite joy-inspiring. I find writing notes and making things with my hands calming. Therapeutic, even. 

As a writer, quite a lot of my time is spent fiddling over phrases and paragraphs that don't ever seem to come out right... so it's satisfying, from time to time, to be able to create things that look exactly the way I want them to.

And it was fun pulling out my old typewriter (although, thank the Lord for word processors for everyday writing).

My own parcel, from my stranger, came through the post the other day. He sent me his favourite film, a collection of little rubber ducks, some sweets, lyrics from a Mumford and Sons song and a few other little things.

Jolly good fun. 

*A note on my note on Winnie the Pooh: in my experience, most people haven't read it. They either didn't realise it was a book, or they they think it'll be just like the cartoon. It's not! It's profound, it's beautiful, it's hilarious, it's ironic. It's wonderful. And if you, reader, haven't read it: go now and do so. You won't regret it.


  1. Hey Lissa!

    I'm from Canada and I stumbled upon your blog because Oh Comely featured it as part of their November Care Package Project.

    I just wanted to shoot you a quick email if you'd like to be a part of a Swap Box Project again.

    I got so inspired with the idea so I started the Swap Box Project with my friends I've met from all over and back in the Philippines. It's definitely smaller in scale, but it'll be interesting nonetheless!

    Looking forward to bringing as much strangers together, so it'll be fun if you can join us! :)

    I've got 50 ppl so far, and looking forward to getting more!


    1. Thanks for getting in touch Aimee ! I'd love to take part in another swap box. Found this so lovely to make and think about. Great you've decided to set this up!


  2. This is such a lovely idea! It is so inspiring to read things like this, because in a fast-paced world it is refreshing to take the time to do these things. I love writing letters, but in today's society that has become something that has been forgotten. I would love to take part in this!

    1. Oh, it's surprising to know how many people are excited for it!

      Here's the form if you'd like to be part of my little passion project:

    2. Isn't it Emily! I also would love to write more letters... feel like the way we keep in touch with people "nowadays" (aware I'm sounding like a grandpa) is so snippety. A text here, a small facebook message there... but something's definitely been lost.

  3. bebe624@yahoo.com11 July 2015 at 08:34

    What a great idea! Would love to be a part of this but i missed the sign up date this time around :(


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