Christmas Is Open!

Wow, the time has arrived when we can officially talk about…Christmas!

The website opened for our December Christmas themed (of course!) parcels on 1st November, so you can now grab the one-off version, or sign up for a 3 or 6 month subscription, with the first parcel being our Christmas parcel – (subscriptions make great gifts!)

Ordering for these will close on 30th November, so we can get them all wrapped and packed, ready for posting during the first week of December, hopefully beating the posting rush!

As always, our Christmas parcels will be super festive, but will still contain our usual mix of inspirational gifts, decorations, handmade items, and maybe, treats to eat!

We know lots of these will be bought and given as gifts, so we won’t spoil the surprise and will save the contents reveal until after Christmas. As with all our parcels, we can also add a personal note inside from you too, if you wish, and we can post to any address within the UK, so we can send them to you, or directly to the recipient.

Subscriptions can be paid for in a one-off lump-sum payment, rather than by monthly instalments, as we know when buying as gifts, some of you like to have the option to pay all at once and then not have to think about it again, just let us know what you’d like to do.

And remember there’s no limit to how many one-off parcels you can order, so if you’re looking for surprise gifts for friends and family, we’ve got you covered!

We also have something brand new this year…a Christmas Eve Box! These are available now, to order directly through our Facebook page, and currently over in our Etsy shop. These are ready-to-post, so there’s no posting times or waiting for these, along with our other ready-to-go range.

We wanted to create a Christmas Eve Box for adults, who after working hard all year, deserve to take a break, put their feet up, and have some me-time, even if it’s only for a few moments, before the bustling festivities of Christmas Day begin.

Remember, if you have any questions or queries about any of our parcels, feel free to pop me an email, or a Facebook message, I’d love to hear from you!

Karen x

 

Volunteering & New Creations…

Hello! It’s been a while since we had a little catch-up and an update post, so when better, than when the rain is pouring down outside my office window, and I’m tightly clutching a “huge” cup of hot tea!

The last few months seem to of been full of sorting and organising, and before we know it, Christmas will be knocking on the door – or coming down the chimney!!

We introduced our ready-to-go range, of one-off parcels earlier this year, and you’re loving them, which is great. We are hoping to continue increasing this range, and also extend into more occasion gift parcels, for particular recipients, and birthdays etc. These will be primarily available in our Facebook shop, as it offers a super quick way for you to see exactly what we have available, and payment can be directly through Facebook Messenger, using our new instant PayPal link, which makes ordering even easier.

Our latest addition is a “Look for Rainbows” themed inspirational gift parcel, which is £19, and of course, like all our parcels, free UK delivery.

I wanted to give you a quick personal update in this post too, as I’ve now been working as a Crisis Volunteer with mental health charity, Shout, for a whole 10 months!

I began my volunteering journey this time last year, when I began my 25 hours of intense training. It was tough going and covered some very difficult, hard hitting subjects, such as self-harm and suicide. But I have to say, since completing my training last December, and spending all of this year volunteering, and helping those experiencing crisis, it has been one of the best things I have ever done.

I won’t lie, it can sometimes be very challenging, as you never know what each shift will bring, but the training I received was great, and the continued support from the coaches and supervisors while on shift is invaluable.

The service that Shout offers is very much needed, and it’s in no doubt, is life changing and lifesaving. The stories we hear from those texting in, are both heart-breaking and heart-warming, but nothing can take away from the feeling, when someone, who thought they had no reason to continue living at the beginning of the conversation, tells you they feel calmer, and they now know they can face another day, and find the determination to fight on.

The charity is always looking for more volunteers, so if this is something you could be interested in, take a look at their website here: https://www.giveusashout.org/

Remember you are never alone, if you, or someone you know is struggling, reach out, support is there, free of charge, 24 hours a day.

Karen x

 

Fabulous Feedback!

I wanted to do a quick post this morning, containing some of the fabulous feedback we’ve received since The Smile Parcel launched.

Receiving and hearing your feedback may seem like a small thing, but it really does make a huge difference to our business, and even more, it means so much to us.

To hear how our parcels make you feel, and how they can brighten your day, is so lovely, and when we’re having a tough day (as all small businesses sometimes do!), we re-read them, and it gives us the little boost we need, to keep going, packing those parcels!

A big thank you to all of you who have given us feedback or left a review, we really do appreciate it.

If you have purchased from us at any point over the last 2 years, we’d love to hear your feedback, or read your review if you’d prefer to leave it on our Facebook page, or over on our Google profile.

“Just wanted to say thanks for the parcel which I ordered to be delivered to my daughter. I’m away on holiday and I ordered it last minute, so had no idea of contents etc – well she received the parcel this morning, and loved it, thank you. She’s suffering from postnatal depression, and the parcel told her to keep going, and gave her something to focus on for the next few days.

Thank you again x x x”

Sarah McGaw, Milton Keynes

“I ordered one of the new Select range parcels. I wanted to be a bit awkward and had a few questions and items to add. Karen was nothing but helpful and friendly, providing me with the perfect parcel. It is exactly what I wanted and all presented in a nice way. I’m very happy with the brilliant service and lovely products, thank you”.

Helen O’Dell-Fitchew, Norfolk

“My friend loves her Smile Parcel! I’ve seen it too and it’s great! It arrived today, it’s her birthday today too, so great timing!!”

Glenda Creasey, Leicestershire

“I cannot tell you how much I love this month’s parcel, it’s almost as if my best friend has chosen the items! It’s just the most beautiful and thoughtful gift, the personalised bracelet brought a tear to my eye!! The bedside book as well was a lovely touch, it’s like you know me! It really touched me and totally lifted my mood xx”

Claire Farrelly, Cambridgeshire

Karen x

Where Can I Buy The Smile Parcel From?

This week’s post title may sound a little odd, as I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you’re already visiting our website – where you can buy our parcels!

However, as we have grown our small business, we have slowly increased the number and range of parcels available, to follow what our customers ask for, and so with this, we now have several different places and platforms for purchasing.

Firstly, I wanted to do a little update on the parcels we offer, and how they differ.

We now have 3 versions of The Smile Parcel available, they are, our original “The Smile Parcel”, “The Smile Parcel Plus”, and finally, “The Smile Parcel Select”.

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“The Smile Parcel” is our original monthly surprise parcel, which is exclusively sold through our own website. These are available as a one-off purchase, or as 3- or 6-month subscriptions. Monthly parcels are all posted during the first week of each month.

You can purchase these from our website here: https://www.thesmileparcel.co.uk/

“The Smile Parcel Plus” parcels, contain the same contents as our original monthly surprise parcels, and are posted at the same time each month, however, they are a “Plus” in two great ways.

When we launched over 2 years ago, we knew we wanted to get to a stage where we could donate a percentage from our parcels to a mental health charity, so we were excited when we were able to launch our “Plus” parcels, and donate 10% from every single one to, Shout, a UK text messaging service, founded as part of the Royal Foundations, Head’s Together charity.

As well as the donation, all “Plus” parcels contain a beautifully fragranced soy wax tin candle, handmade by Charlotte over at Crafts Uniquey, in stunning Yorkshire.

These parcels are currently available to purchase on 3 marketplace platforms, nuMONDAY, uOpen and Etsy, or are also available through our Facebook Shop and Messenger (pop us a Facebook message for more information).

Our nuMONDAY Shop: https://www.numonday.com/shop/the-smile-parcel/

Our uOpen Shop: https://www.uopen.com/subscription-box/the-smile-parcel-plus

Our Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheSmileParcel

Finally, the most recent additions are “The Smile Parcel Select” parcels, which were created out of the demand from you, our lovely customers, asking for a range of one-off purchase, ready-to-go parcels. These all have set contents, which are listed in the description of each parcel, so there’s no surprises with this range. These are ready to post as soon as an order is placed, so they make great gifts.

These parcels are currently available to purchase on 2 marketplace platforms, nuMONDAY and Etsy, or are also available through our Facebook Shop and Messenger (pop us a Facebook message for more information).

Our nuMONDAY Shop: https://www.numonday.com/shop/the-smile-parcel/

Our Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheSmileParcel

Karen x

Let’s Do This!

Well, we’ve made it through the first quarter of 2019, and what a super productive one we have had!

As you know, I like to do little updates throughout the year, just to let you know what has been happening behind the scenes at The Smile Parcel, and what’s new.

We started off the new year, by making lots of changes to the website in January. We wanted to make it a little more user-friendly, easier to navigate, and generally make it look tidier and more organised!

Also, in January, we introduced our first “The Smile Parcel Select” range parcels. These are one-off purchase parcels, with set contents and themes, so there’s no surprises with the “Select” range. Customers have been asking for one-off gift parcels since we launched back in 2017, so we have been putting them together, as and when they have been asked for, so it seemed to make sense to include a range that are already, ready-to-go.

We currently have around 15 parcels available, all with inspirational themes including: “Keep Going”, “Stepping Outside”, “Take A Break”, “Time To Relax” and “You Got This!”.

With the introduction of the “Select” range, we opened a Facebook Shop, which we’ve been told by customers, makes ordering very easy! Simply click on the blue button on the parcel listing you’d like, which takes you straight through to our Facebook Messenger, where we’ll send you our new direct PayPal link, for one-click payment, so not even an invoice is required.

We opened an Etsy Shop for this range too. We are very new to Etsy, so we are still learning our way around, and how to make the most out of it.

We decided at the beginning of the year, that 2019 needs to be all about marketing for us, and trying different ways to get our brand known and reach new audiences. The world of marketing and advertising for small businesses seems to change at  a very quick pace, and if you’re not a marketing whiz (like me!), it can take time to understand new ways, and learn what works for a particular business, what doesn’t work, and what to try next – it’s definitely a bit of a mind field, and something we are always looking to improve and learn about – but I admit, we do find it to be a mission full of trial and error!

As part of the above, I revamped the Instagram account for The Smile Parcel, as I’m hoping to get to grips with using this more as a platform, and I’m also trying harder with Pinterest – which isn’t really a social media platform, but more of a search engine, and (like a lot of people!) I naturally gravitate towards Pinterest when I’m looking for personal ideas, so why not get more involved as a business tool too?!

I’ve been fortunate to work with, or be introduced to several very motivational business peeps so far this year, all female entrepreneurs, who are incredibly clued up on running successful small businesses, and they love to support others to do the same.

I think it’s so important to have role models, in whatever profession you are in, and running a small business, especially from home, can sometimes be a lonely place, after all, you need to be a Jack-of-all-trades (and I’m definitely a master of none!). I’m hoping to work more with these talented women during this year, and hopefully gain just a fraction of their knowledge and skills, and put them into practice!

On a personal note, I have now been volunteering as a Crisis Counsellor for almost 4 months – it’s gone so quick! I initially spoke about this back in December, when I was doing my training.

I wanted to talk about it for 2 reasons, firstly, I wanted to encourage others to become volunteers. The charity I work for (details below), are always looking for more Crisis Counsellors, so if you might be interested, do take a look at their website for more information.

I can honestly say it has been one of the toughest, but best things, I have ever done.

The second reason is because I believe whenever we get the opportunity to talk openly about mental health, we should, and in turn, this helps to normalise talking to someone about how we’re feeling, including seeking therapy and having counselling, which is so important. It’s never a weakness to ask for help or talk about mental health, in fact, it’s the opposite, it takes strength and courage to talk about your story.

I posted a blog post on 7th December 2018, which gives you more details regarding the training needed and what is involved, but you can also find their website here: https://giveusashout.org/

Overall, the first quarter of this year, has been inspiring, motivating and educational – let’s see what the second quarter has to offer…

Karen x

We’ve Got A Facebook Shop!

This is going to be a short and sweet blog post this week, as I wanted to quickly let you know that I’ve successfully (hopefully successfully!) created a Facebook shop!

This means you can now order our parcels directly from our Facebook page – the monthly instalment subscriptions will still link you through to the correct page on this website, to set up your payments, but all the one-off purchase ‘Select’ range, and lump-sum subscription payments, can now be ordered through Facebook messenger, followed by a direct PayPal link, so there’s not even any invoices involved, but you are still fully covered by PayPal’s payment security.

I’ve separated the parcels into categories, so it’s easy to see the available ready-to-go parcels (‘Select’ range), and the subscription options.

We wanted to offer this as an alternative, as we have an amazingly supportive community of customers and followers over on Facebook, so adding a quick and simple way to order, or re-order, without having to leave Facebook, seemed to make sense.

You can find our Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheSmileParcel

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new ‘Shop’, or anything you would like to see added and/or changed.

Karen x

Christmas Tips & A Thank You

Hello!

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but this our penultimate blog post of 2018!!

I will share the contents of this month’s parcels at the very end of December, as of course, they are our Christmas parcels, and I know lots of you are saving them to open on Christmas day…which we love!

I want to start off by saying a huge thank you for all your amazing support during this year. We are always so overwhelmed by the number of lovely people we get to (virtually!) meet on our venture into running a small business.

Can you believe The Smile Parcel will be 2 years old in February! It’s gone so quickly, but we’re loving every minute of it, and receiving your feedback telling us how our parcels make you smile, and make your day that little bit brighter, reminds us why we are here, and what is important.

We’ve got some big plans for 2019, including introducing some pre-selected, ready-to-go parcels, for those of you who aren’t so keen on the surprise element of our monthly parcels – you can choose exactly what you want inside – but don’t worry, our monthly surprise parcels will be staying just as they are!

On a personal note, I have spent the last couple of months training to become a volunteer crisis counsellor, working with a new mental health charity. I published a separate post on 7th December, which tells you lots more about the charity, and some information in case you may be interested in volunteering too!

That post is here: https://www.thesmileparcel.co.uk/volunteerasacrisiscounsellor/

As you know we are passionate about mental health, and helping to raise awareness where we can. Sadly, Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone, and it can also be full of pressures, and the feeling that we are all ‘supposed’ to be happy, and enjoying the festivities.

Lots of us rely of our routine to keep ourselves on track, and this can be disrupted at Christmas time.

It can help to try to be as organised as possible, and not leave things until the last minute, they can then build up and become much bigger in our minds, and become stressful.

Also try to keep any hobbies going over the holidays, as we would during the rest of the year. This can be difficult if places or groups we attend are closed, but maybe swap some of these things for something else similar, for example if you regularly attend exercise groups or classes, you could go for a walk, or even a run, each morning, so you don’t feel the disruption so much.

It can be tempting to want to make everyone else happy at Christmas, and do more than we want to do, so remember to look after yourself, and don’t take on too much – it’s your holiday too!

I hope you have a wonderful peaceful Christmas, filled with joy (and a little, or a lot, of chocolate!!)

Karen x

 

Your Questions Answered!

Hello!

You may have noticed that we have now officially opened on the website for our Christmas parcels – ordering opened on 1st November, and will close on 30th November, or earlier if we sell out!

We’ve received lots of questions and messages regarding these parcels, so I wanted to put together a post of 14 frequently asked questions, so the answers are all in one place. Most of these answers apply to all our parcels, so aren’t only relevant to Christmas.

If I have missed anything out, or you have any other questions, I’d love to hear from you, simply click on the ‘Contact Us’ page on this website, or pop me an email at: karen@thesmileparcel.co.uk

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Can I Order A One-Off Parcel?
Yes! All our parcels are available to order as one-off’s.

What Will Be Inside Christmas Parcels?
As always with our monthly parcels, exact contents are kept a secret until they are received, but what I can tell you about our Christmas parcels is that they will be super festive, but will still contain our usual inspirational gifts, decorations, handmade items, and maybe something to eat too!

Can I Add A Personal Note Inside?
Yes, we can add a note inside any of our parcels.

Can I Have A Parcel Delivered Directly To The Recipient?
Yes, we can post parcels to any residential address within the UK, and some business addresses too, providing there is someone available to sign for them. Sadly, this does mean that we can’t post to PO Box addresses for this reason.

Can I Have A Parcel Posted Outside Of The UK?
No, currently we only post parcels to addresses within the UK.

Can I Order A Christmas Parcel…That Isn’t Christmas Themed?
Yes of course, we also put together one-off gift parcels which we can send at any time during the year or month, these are made up from products we already have in stock, remaining from previous months. We do have limited stock, so let us know if you’re interested in anything from previous parcels.

Is There A Limit To How Many One-Off Parcels I Can Purchase?
No, you can order as many one-off parcels as you wish.

When Is The Last Date I Can Order A Parcel For Christmas Delivery?
We will be taking orders for December Christmas parcels up until 30th November – unless we sell out earlier!

Can I Choose The Contents Of The Parcel?
When purchasing our monthly parcels, the contents are kept as a surprise, however, if you’d like to choose some of the contents, we can show you what we currently have in stock remaining from previous months, and put some of these together, to create a parcel just for you!

Can I Purchase A Subscription As A Gift?
Yes, we love sending subscription parcels as gifts, as it feels like an extra surprise for the recipient when they receive their first parcel. Subscriptions are available for 3, or 6 months, and do not automatically renew, so will end after your chosen subscription length, unless you choose to resubscribe of course!

Can I Pay For A Subscription As A Lump-Sum Payment, Rather Than By Monthly Instalments?
Yes, we recently added this as an option as we often received requests to pay all in one go. Paying as a lump-sum allows you to pay just one payment for all the parcels in your chosen subscription, and not have to think about the payments coming out of your account each month. Lump-sum payments are accepted as an option for all personal subscriptions, as well as gifts.

When Will Christmas Parcels Be Posted?
All Christmas parcels will be posted during the first week of December, hopefully beating the posting rush!

How Much Are They And Do I Have To Pay Postage On Top?
One-off parcels are £19, or you can save a few pennies each month with a subscription. A 3-month subscription is £17.50 a month, or a 6-month subscription is £16 a month. All parcels are free UK delivery, so no postage cost is added.

How Can I Pay?
One-off parcels can be paid using PayPal or a debit or credit card. If you do not have a PayPal account, you can click on the ‘do not have a PayPal account’ option when purchasing through the website, and it will bypass PayPal to take your card details as usual. If you are purchasing a subscription, you can pay in the same way when paying as a lump-sum payment, and we will send you an invoice for the full amount. A PayPal account is required when paying via monthly instalments for a subscription, as PayPal is our chosen secure recurring payment method.

Karen x