A couple weeks ago, I threw together a list of book boxes that are really neat, but honestly? They’re kind of cost-prohibitive, especially if you want a monthly subscription.
But there’s another way! Yes, you heard me, another way to get cheaper book boxes and still have fun. It just takes a few short steps, and it’s all worth it. Let’s run through them real quick, shall we?
1. Acquire a book buddy!
This is the most important part. You need to have someone to send a box to and receive a box from. As my book buddy, Áine, put it, “it’s like a secret santa, except you actually like the person you’re sending it to!”
She’s right, folks. Find a friend, one you’re comfortable swapping addresses with, one who makes you happy and one you make happy, and you’re on the road to budget book boxing, but with A FRIEND!
2. Set limits and pick themes!
Truthfully, this is kind of two steps in one. For your limits, talk to your buddy. How much are you willing to spend on each box? Will you only trade books, or will you put in goodies as well? How often will you send one? In my case, we have a limit of about $25 and we send a box every other month, plus a birthday box for each of us when it comes time (because our birthdays happen to fall outside of our regular book box schedule). That way, we have time to save money and find/make fun gifts, but it’s not too overwhelming. Of course, postage can be expensive, so take that into account as well when you decide a budget. It might work for you to do one every three months, or four, or just twice a year. Talk with your buddy about it!
As for themes, this is optional, but totally makes it fun! You can just put whatever book in the box if that’s your style, or you can pick a theme for each exchange, and sort your gifts around that. The most recent box Áine and I traded was a murder mystery box, and so that meant we sent each other murder mystery books, as well as gifts like Sherlock Holmes socks, Nancy Drew pencils, and a mug that changes its pattern when it gets hot (and reveals bloody handprints, which scared the HELL out of me tbh and I love it).
If you do a theme, try to go broad, and have fun! And if not everything fits the theme, but you know your friend will like it, then just go ahead and do it. It’s about having fun in the end.
Oh, and remember to ask your buddy for allergies and big dislikes, as well as super favorites, especially if sending food but just in general anyway, just to be safe. Communication is very key.
3. Add fun stuff!
Yes, of course this includes the book, but this also includes other things, like extra goodies you make or buy! If you’re looking to save some money, make stuff, like paper flowers or baked goods (Áine absolutely spoils me with her baking talents tbh), or any other thing you have a knack for that won’t break the bank. Or, if you have a little extra money you’re willing to spend, check on Etsy or Redbubble or all kinds of places, see what people are offering that fits the bill for your box. OR, if you live near places that have indie stores, see what they have to offer! Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and just look around for something unusual, because it makes it so much more fun.
If you want an example, below is a tweet from when I unboxed our cryptid themed box in July! The Sock Ness Monster socks are one of my favorites (and I’m wearing them as I write this lol).
And if you’re in the mood for chaos, don’t forget one essential thing: confetti. The more the better. Send that stuff back and forth. Add to it. (Just don’t use glitter because that never goes away. At least you can vacuum up confetti).
4. Pack it up and ship it out!
You have a buddy, you have your limits and your theme, and you have your gifts! Now pack it up nice and safe, with whatever packing medium you prefer (I’ve had good luck with those plastic air pillow things, but it never hurts to put in more cushioning, especially if you’re sending something you’re worried might be a little fragile), and get that sucker off to the post office. Bring your wallet, too, because this is where postage gets you. I’ve found, though, that purchasing a flat rate box is usually cheaper than postage if you mailed it based on weight.
HOWEVER, you can skip this step if you have a friend you see in person! I mean, obviously pack it up nice and safe to bring it to your person, but cut out the post office as the middle man and you’re golden. But that does require the extra step of finding out when you and your buddy are both free to meet up and trade boxes, so bear that in mind.
5. If you mailed it…WAIT!
No, no, go ahead and mail it, you don’t have to wait to do that. You just have to wait for it to arrive, and then wait for the stream of (hopefully excited!) unboxing messages. It’s one of my absolute favorite parts of sending boxes, right up there with the next step. There’s something so fun about getting those messages and knowing that someone else’s day is now a little happier because the box was a ton of fun. It’s a warm fuzzy kind of feeling and I totally recommend it.
6. OPEN IT!
YES. YOUR BOX HAS ARRIVED. TEAR INTO THAT SUCKER (unless you promised your buddy to wait until you BOTH have your packages so you can open them at the same time; another thing to check with them). TAKE PICTURES. HAVE FUN.
And if you received confetti, save it in a baggie and hang onto it. Turn it into traveling confetti. Or revenge confetti. Make it work for you. Ball’s in your court now.
7. Rinse and repeat!
As long as you and your buddy are ready and willing to send another box, do it all over again! Pick a new theme, find new gifts, go nuts! It’s so much fun, and it’s really flexible based on your budget (besides those pesky shipping costs; seriously, if that’s an issue, local buddies are a great way to avoid that). AND you get the joy of saying “oh, no, let’s wait to pick a theme so we don’t get too ahead of ourselves” and then suddenly you have a theme way in advance anyways and it’s too late, you’re already excited and everything is fun again.
Go forth and have fun with buddy boxes! And if you pick this up/already do it and post pictures of your trades, I’d love to see them! Share the book box joy!!