Frequently asked questions

Signing up

I signed up, but I haven't received any emails. Am I in the swap? If you're able to log in, they're probably getting blocked by a spam filter. Provided the box with 'I'm in' is ticked, you're in. If you can't log in, it's probable that you spelled your email address wrong. Drop a line to and we'll sort it out.

Why is there a £1 charge? It helps us make sure that everyone who participates is genuine, and is committed to the project. We listened to a lot of feedback from swappers on ways to keep the project accessible but accountable. Running the Perfect Strangers Project is also a lot of work. (Fun work!)

My swap partner

I'd like someone from a different country / the same country as me. You can tell us where you'd prefer to post to in the 'my details' section of your profile page.

If I'm not happy with my partner, can I be matched with someone different? Nope, we aren't re-matching anyone after the giant hat-shaking bonanza of matching! The project is about sending a parcel to a perfect stranger, whoever that might be. The only exception is if your partner seems suspicious or you don't feel safe. In which case, let us know at and we'll take a look at it immediately.

I need to leave the swap. How can I do this? Until you've been matched, you can do this by unticking 'I'm in' on your profile page. After that, email

Wah, I've got an email from my partner saying they've dropped out. Can I be rematched? Yes, you can. Drop a line to quick as you can.

Sending a parcel

What should I put in my box? Anything you like! The spending guide is £20, not including postage. Check out the posting guide for how much that'll cost, or get some inspiration from our previous swappers on Facebook and Instagram.

I sent my package ages ago and have contacted my partner to see if they've received it, but haven't heard anything. What do I do? This is tricky. Unfortunately, life sometimes happens and it might be that your partner is suddenly unable to take part due to unforeseen circumstances. It's frustrating after you've put time and energy into creating something special, but you at least can rest assured in the fact that you've done your bit.

Receiving a parcel

My box arrived and it's fab! Wanna see? Of course we do. Please share it with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #perfectstrangers.

What if my box doesn't arrive? How long should I wait before I contact my swap partner, and can you chase them for me? Firstly, check the timeline on our homepage or your profile page for when you can expect your box to arrive. International post can take aaaages. We aren't able to chase your partner for you, but we do provide you with their email address. So, after the end of the December, drop your partner a gentle nudge over email. If there's still radio silence and you're pretty sure your partner is lost in action, you can click 'report' on your profile. This will send your partner an email from us and also make a record that they haven't posted a package.

If we haven't answered your question here, drop a line to

Notes and precautions for COVID

Hello lovely swappers, we know that this year has been difficult for everyone, especially for those who have loved ones directly affected by Covid. We want all our swappers to feel safe and comfortable, so it's up to each of you to decide what steps you need to take to be protected and communicate these to your swap partner. There are obvious things we all should do like washing our hands, being aware of possible symptoms to watch out for and letting our swap partners know if we have any health concerns or are particularly vulnerable for any reason. You might also consider wrapping your parcel in a waterproof layer to make it easier for your swapper to disinfect when it arrives or leaving your parcel for a few days after arrival before opening (coronavirus doesn't last for more than 48 hours on most non-steel/plastic surfaces at warm temperatures).

Communication in these odd times

Communication between swappers is essential and required this year. You should exchange at least one or two emails with your partner before you mail your parcels to each other, so as soon as you are matched please get online and contact them within three days, and watch your inbox for a reply from them. If you don't hear anything within three days, then please get in touch with the PSP HQ and we'll rematch you with a new partner if necessary. Check with your swap partner what they would or would not feel safe receiving, what type of post carrier will work, and remember that while you may not be vulnerable or anxious, other people's circumstances could be radically different, so please be kind and listen to each other's concerns and suggestions. You don't need to tell your swapper exactly what you plan to send them, you can still surprise them, but you may need to tell them generally what you aim to send (e.g. baked goods, clothing, books, crafted items, seeds, stationary, kitchenware, pet treats, a taxidermied axolotl, etc.) and check that it would be suitable, or in fact legal if you are posting overseas. We don't ever encourage swappers to request specific items, and you are certainly not expected to choose gifts from a wish list, it's entirely your choice what you want to send, but it can be very helpful for both sides to give a few hints about what sorts of things they enjoy and will actually use. If you have any allergies or moral issues with certain items, let your swap partner know (eg. no animal products, tree nuts, obscene language, etc). If you have children, or pets, or diabetes, or collect London underground maps, or any other helpful information, now would be the time to share it with your swapper.

Posting in a pandemic

The post is extra slow this year due to the impact of Covid on the Royal Mail, USPS, and other carriers, and international post will probably be delayed even further. Some countries are not accepting foreign mail at all. If you are sending your parcel to another continent it could easily take several weeks for it to arrive via air mail, and much, much longer via standard mail. Parcels can get stuck in customs for weeks too. If you aren't willing to pay for air mail postage then it might be wiser to send a parcel within your own country this year. International parcels won't arrive before Christmas Day unless you pay extra for fast delivery. Everyone is going to need to be patient, and keep in touch with their fellow swappers until both parcels finally arrive safely.

Please check estimated postal times and ask your swapper if these are reasonable BEFORE you post. Not everyone is willing to wait six months for surface mail from Australia to arrive! You might very well need your swapper's telephone number for many international carriers, and most won't deliver to PO boxes so you will need their full address. If you are sending within the UK, the Royal Mail are currently operating priority post boxes, check online to find your nearest one. The Royal Mail is not collecting every day from every post box.

We do recommend getting proof of postage when you send your packages, or at the very least taking a photo of the stamped and addressed parcel before it goes in the post box, in case it gets lost. Please keep this proof of postage somewhere safe until the parcel reaches its recipient. If you want to know if your parcel arrives then you will need to send it by registered post, otherwise you will just have to cross your fingers and hope. Please email your partner to let them know which date you mailed their package on and when roughly they should expect it to arrive, so they can keep an eye out for it. It's also kind to let them know when their parcel reaches you and to thank them for all your goodies. If your parcel gets lost and you don't have proof of postage, then you'll need to send a second one, or risk being reported.

If you don't receive a parcel within the time frame your swapper told you to expect, then please get in touch with them, and find out what went wrong. If you have any issues resolving lost parcels, please email us at the PSP and we'll try to help. If something happens and you can't post your parcel in time before the posting deadline on the 14th December, then email your swapper straight away to let them know that you've been delayed and tell them the date that you will actually be posting their parcel so they aren't left waiting in vain for weeks. If you need to leave the swap entirely due to an emergency or unforseen problems, please let both your swapper and the PSP team know immediately. If it's early in the swap we can try to re match them with a new partner; if they have already sent their parcel, then we will try to make sure they still receive one from somebody.

Closed shops and other issues

A number of shops are closed right now in the UK, and many people are unable to visit shops as they can't risk being exposed to possible infection. We understand that this makes finding gifts hard, and that our swappers will have more limited options than in previous years. We also know that a lot of people are struggling financially currently, due to unemployment, being unable to work, and the many other issues the pandemic has caused for families and businesses all over the world. If you don't have the money or energy to spare this year, that is completely understandable, but if you'd like to still take part without committing too many resources, then you could write a letter to a stranger through our Lifting Letters Project and help spread a little joy that way. Please don't spend more than you can afford to lose. You will eventually receive a parcel in return, but it may take months, and not contain what you expected.

If you are able to send a parcel, then we are encouraging swappers to upcycle, re-use or make gifts, rather than expecting everyone to go online and order from a big retailer or buy all their gifts from the few shops that are currently open. We love to support small businesses and local artists, so if you can order items from sites like Etsy, Folksy, Bigcartel or suppliers' own websites then please do. We also love to see the amazing, creative gifts that some of our swappers make for each other, so if you enjoy crafting, even if you're only a beginner, then we encourage you to be brave and share your talents with your fellow swapper. A unique, bespoke, handmade gift, even if it's slightly wonky, definitely has more character and personality than anything you could buy from a corporation. Many people have used the time at home during lock down to de clutter and organise their homes. If you have books, toys, games, or gadgets that are in good condition but no longer used, they might be exactly what someone else would like. Please don't send dirty or damaged items, or random odds and ends lying around the house, only those special treasures that you have loved but no longer need. If you are concerned about hygiene, ask before you post; some people are happy to wear pre-loved, laundered clothes or accessories; some aren't.

Above all, please remember that in these strange times, compassion and understanding are needed more than ever. People's circumstances can change suddenly, and many are feeling overwhelmed by uncertainty. Please give your fellow swappers the benefit of the doubt where possible, and try to be patient when hiccups do occur. We try to keep the swap fair and honest, but it is primarily about giving, and making a human connection, less about receiving. As long as you do your part and send your parcel, then karma and the PSP elves will sort out the rest.

Love from the PSP elves.