Secret Social Distancer: Staying Connected by Mail During COVID-19
When I spoke with Carlee Webb, a fundamental aspect of her personality quickly became clear: she cares. As Carlee Smith describes herself, “I’m an enneagram type 2. I just want to take care of everyone.”
Her desire to help was palpable in our recent conversation about her coronavirus lockdown contribution: the Secret Social Distancer game. The idea came to her after receiving a package from Batch. “When all of the craziness started, I wanted to support Batch, so I placed an order. I had so much fun getting something joyful in the mail — even though I already knew what was coming!”
Her own sense of joy inspired her to ponder How can I spread joy? How can I support friends who have small businesses? Who doesn’t love surprises? And from this the Secret Social Distancer game was born. Think: Secret Santa but with just a dash of social distancing.
She has hosted two rounds of the game thus far. Twenty-five people participated in the first round. It mostly consisted of people living in Nashville, based on her network, but it did reach all the way overseas to include a friend who is stationed in England while serving in the Navy.
“After the first round,” she said, “it was fun to hear back from people.” One friend gifted a macrame tapestry from her friend’s etsy site. Lots of people gave gifts from Batch. The friend in London got Frothy Monkey coffee, and she loved that the treat reminded her of her time here in Nashville. Another friend is pregnant, and she was gifted books for the baby.
The impact really hit Carlee, however, when a participant reported back: “This was the hardest day so far of quarantine, and then I got my package!” Her idea had blossomed: she was spreading joy.
Will she do a third round of Secret Social Distancer? “It’s hard to tell if I’ll do another round.” she pondered, “Who knows if we’re coming out of this or not.” Regardless of what the future holds, Secret Social Distancer is, undeniably, a game that is a win-win. It brightens a recipient’s doorstep and it most assuredly brightens an entrepreneur’s day.
If I want to do this with my family/friends, how can I get started?
“It is simple!” she quickly exclaimed, and then followed with a caveat: “But, I do love to organize things.” I will agree with her gut reaction — it is, in fact, simple. While you could go with an automated online solution like this Secret Santa Generator, Carlee opted to create a Google Form using a few easy steps.
- Step 1: Create a Google Form to ask for each participant’s name, email, address, any special requests, and anything to avoid (like gluten, coffee, or alcohol).
- Step 2: Share the link to the form on social media and by email to gather people’s names and contact info.
- Step 3: Keep it simple. Carlee went down the list assigning each person to the next person on the list and notifying them all by individual emails.
- Step 4: Share the rules of the game. Carlee set two rules: spend around $25-50 and buy from a locally-owned small business.
That’s it! “Part of the fun is keeping it open and random,” she said. “Communicate out to people, and then just,” (as Queen Elsa so wisely tells us …) “let it go.”
I finished our conversation by asking Carlee, “So, what was your favorite gift to receive?” And, like a true enneagram type 2, she responded, “I didn’t participate. I didn’t think it would be fair to sign myself up. I got joy out of it by simply helping people find their sparks of happiness.”
Want to send a local surprise to someone you love? Check out our curated gift boxes and our relief boxes.