I don't remember exactly when it happened, but around five years ago my work schedule - both at the office and with travel - became such that I couldn't make it to any establishment that closed before 8pm. It was impossible for me to make it to places like the bank, the post office, the dry cleaner or the nail salon.
Of all those "only open during the work day" places, the toughest one has been the post office. My sister lives in New York. My parents, cousins and grandma live in Florida. One of my best friends lives in Israel. Needless to say, I have a lot of occasions to send care packages or gifts, but I don't have a schedule that ever allows me to do that on time.
Enter the brilliant company Sunny Exchange.
Sunny Exchange was co-founded by two Wellesley College alums, Connie Su and Jennifer Sohn Lim. When asked what inspired Sunny Exchange, Connie explained:
"Since graduating from Wellesley, Jen and I moved across the country so many times for grad school and work (17 times in 8 different cities to be exact)... and we found that it became harder and harder to stay in touch with friends and family who are spread across the world.
So we created Sunny Exchange to address this issue.
While I was working in New York, I clocked so many hours and traveled so often that I felt like all my relationships were through my phone or computer screen. I loved my job and the mission behind the organization I worked for, but the demanding hours and deadlines took a toll on my social life and relationships. Even though I was killing it at work and jetsetting from place to place - I've never felt so lonely before.
I saw through social media that many of my friends were entering new life stages, dealing with heartbreak, and making changes in their lives - I wanted to be a part of their life and show them that I've been thinking about them, but annual Facebook birthday shoutouts and "likes" on Instagram just didn't seem like enough.
Even though I wanted to send snail mail to old friends who I stalked on social media - I never had the time to go to the post office, go to Trader Joes Duane Reade Target etc., and find appropriate packing material to put together the thoughtful care packages I meant to send out.
If any of you have been or are in the same situation, I hope Sunny Exchange can help you feel more connected and proactive in your relationships."
Preach, Connie! It's like she crawled up inside my head and articulated the struggle to stay in touch and celebrate (or commiserate) life's milestones when you're miles apart and the dang post office closes at 4:00pm!
So how does Sunny Exchange actually work? Well, when you visit the website, you have two choices: send one of their pre-packed theme boxes or create a custom box.
The pre-packed boxes cost $40 dollars each (plus $15 dollars for shipping and handling) and have three themes: the movie box, the snack box or the bibim box (like the Korean dish Bibim Bap). No matter which one you choose, you can add a personal message and you can upload a photo too.
If you're feeling really fancy, you can create a totally custom package, which would range from $100 - $250 dollars. The custom boxes come with free shipping and handling.
Connie and Jen were kind enough to let me give Sunny Exchange a whirl and sent me the movie box (the one I would hope someone would send to me!).
When I came home from work last night, there it was! The box was branded with their cheery logo and rays of sunshine taped to the sides.
Once I unwrapped the sunshine paper, the box beneath it was also decorated with the same bright yellow and orange tape, plus two happy versions of the company logo.
Connie and Jen wrote me a beautiful note on pink and gold, girl power stationary. Are we kindred spirits or what?
When I cut through the tape on the sides of the box and finally opened it, I was totally blown away.
Inside the lid of the box was a personal message to me (star on the top right) and then an example of where the box could be customized (bottom right). On the left side was a note from Sunny Exchange explaining the contents of the box.
I love that the message has that hand written feel. They even use special decorative tape to attach the message.
The box was packed to the brim!
For the salt craver, there were two kinds of popcorn - jalapeño cheddar and caramel corn - plus a bag of corn nuts. They even give you carnival-style boxes to pop open and hold the treats!
For chocolate lovers, the box includes hot cocoa mix with marshmallows (bonus!) and a bag of Flipz (FYI - I can eat a whole bag in one sitting, no problem).
Beneath all those goodies were even more movie theater snacks - microwave popcorn, Red Vines and Sour Patch Kids.
The candy was tucked in next to the softest fleece blanket. This blanket rivals my favorite on earth, the Supple Touch Throw from the American Blanket Company.
And because they've thought of everything, they even include a package of wipes so you can hide any trace of Sour Patch debris, corn nut dust or caramel corn stickiness.
They were chevron patterned, my absolute favorite!
Sunny Exchange just gets me.
What I love most about Sunny Exchange is that the packages really feel like they're made with love and care. The outside of the box is stamped and taped just the way it would be if your crafty BFF packed it herself. The box is stuffed with comforting goodies. Not just food items, but cozy touches like hot cocoa or a fleece blanket. And to be honest, the cost to send this is $55 dollars total (box + shipping) and I'm pretty sure if you tried to recreate and ship this box yourself, it would cost more than that. It certainly would in time spent, let alone the itemized list of treats.
I was so impressed and touched by Sunny Exchange. Visit their website to start planning a surprise delivery for your family and friends. You can also follow along on Instagram, @sunnyexchange, to see when they add new items and choices.
*Though my Sunny Exchange box was complimentary, all opinions are 100 percent my own.