Are you struggling to buy a toy for your child this year holidays? Are you wanting to help others? Do you like ecstatic taxidermied heads in santa hats? If any of these apply then you are in the right place, because today marks the eighth (EIGHTH!?) annual James Garfield Miracle.
The backstory: I bought a very jolly but kinda f-ed up boar head (named James Garfield) and Victor thought I was crazy so I sold some homemade Xmas cards to make up the $90 I paid for him but I made so much I decided to give the money back to parents struggling to buy a toy for their kid.
James Garfield and I love you.
It went quickly but as soon as I ran out of cash a ton of other people stepped up and asked if they could send toys to strangers and it grew into a weird but lovely tradition.
Each year I think will be the last year but each year people who were helped in the past ask if we’ll do it again so they can give back. For those who like something easier you can give to Project Night Night, a brilliant organization that provides a book, stuffed animal and security blanket to kids living in shelters, and also to Heifer because it’s nice to be able to donate the ass end of a water buffalo on the behalf of relatives that you don’t really like. As always, there are no sponsors, no rules and no one gets anything out of it except the happiness of helping total strangers.
So here’s how it works: If you are struggling this year and you don’t know how you are going to buy a toy for your child (or children) then follow these instructions:
Make a wishlist on Amazon and leave a comment below (with the age of your child, a link to your wishlist and anything else you want to share). There are a few rules that you must follow.
1. You are not allowed to feel bad about asking for help, because all of us have struggled at some point, and people LOVE to help. In fact, lots of people helping are ones who were helped in the past and want to pay it forward.
2. It has to be a brand new wishlist (I’ll show you how to make one below) and (to make it fair and make sure we can help as many kids as possible) you should choose under $40 in toys (per kid). We usually stick with just toys but if your kid needs a coat or socks or something to keep them warm you can add that, but keep it to under $60 (per kid).
3. It’s REALLY important that you follow the instructions on how to set up a public wishlist (your address isn’t shown publicly to anyone) because tons of people miss a step and their list gets ignored and that sucks.
4. Continue to be awesome.
Here are the rules for people who want to give:
1. Find a comment with a link and send a present. If the wishlist is empty that means that the list has been filled. YAY! If you buy something but it doesn’t give you the option to send it to the person’s registry address that means that they messed up so delete that present from your cart and go to the next person. You’ll know if it’s messed up because Amazon will try to send the present to your address at checkout.
2. Continue to be awesome.
Here’s the basic FAQ because we’ve done it enough to know all the problems:
- How do I post my wishlist so that my kid gets a present?
Follow these step-by-step instructions:
Log in to Amazon and under “Accounts & Lists” choose “Create a list”.
Select “wish list” and name your list. Make it “Public.” See how “keep purchased items on my list” is selected? Don’t do that. Uncheck it.
THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART PEOPLE ALWAYS MESS UP:
On the list you just made click on “Edit this list” and this box will pop up. See where it says “None” on shipping address? You have to add a shipping address here so click “None” and select “Create new” and add your shipping address there. (Double-check after you’ve saved it by clicking on “Edit this list” again. The box will pop up and it should show your address instead of “None” if you’ve done it correctly.)
Please make sure “keep purchased items on your list” and “Don’t spoil my surprises” are NOT checked, otherwise things that have been bought will still show up and people could buy the same thing multiple times.
Now, go shopping. Put up to $40 in books and toys (and up to $60 in coats/socks if needed) on your wishlist. Instead of clicking “Add to cart” choose the “Add to list” drop-down under it and select your list. (Make sure you choose a size if you need a coat or jacket.) If possible, stick with things that offer Prime shipping and that arrive before the holiday.
If you don’t live in America please say where you live in the comments because it’s much cheaper for Canadian people to buy for Canadians, etc.
Once you’re done go to the comments here and put a link to your wishlist. Here’s an example I made up:
I’m really struggling this year and have 2 young kids and 1 teenager. They like books and movies. I live in America. I also added an inexpensive coat and mittens for one my youngest just in case anyone could help. Here’s my link: amazon.com.blahblahblah
- What should I choose for my wishlist?
Picking things that are listed as “prime” eligible is ideal because shipping is free for people with prime memberships. Remember the limits so that we can help as many kids as we can. Books and art supplies and movies that kids can share are all great suggestions. Here’s an example list I made with a ton of inexpensive books, toys, etc. that you can use as inspiration to get started.
I went to buy something from a list but the list was empty.
That is actually awesome. That means everything from their list was bought. Whoop!
I went to buy something from a list but there wasn’t an address attached to it.
Then delete what you have in your cart and go to the next persons list. That happens every year. Leave a comment letting the person know that they need to add an address.
How do I know I’m using the right address?
When you’re looking at the wishlist it will say the name of the person. When you check out select the same person’s name’s wishlist address or registry address. If there isn’t one then they haven’t added their address so delete your cart and try the next person.
Are you checking to make sure people are real?
Sort of. There are some things I do to check but go with your gut. I do delete people if I know they aren’t real or aren’t following the rules but most people won’t go to the trouble to fake an account for crayons and kid’s books so just use your best judgement.
Can I thank the person who helped me?
You won’t know who they are, but you can totally say thanks in the comments. You’ll know if something was bought because it will disappear from your list.
What if I don’t get what was sent to me?
It happens, but rarely. Sometimes you’ll forget to put your address and your stuff goes to the person who bought it. Or it’s at your neighbor’s house because you weren’t there to sign for it. Or it was sold out and you’ll get it after the holiday. It’s rare, but it can happen.
I can’t afford to buy something but I’d like to volunteer to make something or send a card to someone.
Okay. Just put your email on your comment and they can connect with you.
I’d like to give even more to a particular person.
Awesome! The best way to do that is to leave your email address in a comment and ask them to contact you so you can help them directly. Please don’t ask them to add extra stuff to their wishlist because it gets way too confusing.
I want to give 10% off a product I make or let them enter a drawing if they like my Facebook page and tweet a bunch of crap about it.
No. Sorry. This is not that.
Will you be my friend?
Yes. Yes, I will.
PS. This morning I donated $1,000 to Project Night Night in your name. And now I’m going to fill as many wish lists as I can. The money I spend on this stuff comes directly from my affiliate links and from your support in buying my books, so if you can’t afford to help just know that if you came here this year these gifts are from you too. In the last 7 years our community has given almost $400,000 to help kids during the holidays. That is insane, y’all. But a good kind of insane.
The best kind of insane.
PS. Pretty please stick to the max limit per kid. You don’t need to add extra things so there are choices because then you end up getting way over the max if people fill your whole list and since there’s a limited amount of money to help some kids might end up getting more than a hundred dollars in gifts and others get nothing. Thanks everyone!