Who can participate?
Although the exchange used to be restricted only to members of the Halloween-L and HOWL2000 mailing lists, it has now been opened up to all Halloween-minded individuals...provided that you are actually serious about participating. PLEASE don't sign up unless you intend to follow through and send a gift; it's terribly disappointing for your assignee to send something and get nothing in return.
How do I join?
Submit your information on the Join page.
Can non-US residents participate?
Yes, with a small caveat: Residents of the same country are preferentially matched with each other, but if there are no other participants from your country you may find shipping costs for your gift to be fairly expensive. Sending your gift early to take advantage of slower, cheaper shipping might help. Another option is to shop on the recipient's country's version of Amazon, since local shipping will be applied.
What is the deadline for joining?
The deadline to join each year's exchange is October 15.
When will I get my Secret Pumpkin assignment?
Pumpkin matching will be done a few days after registration closes. Your pumpkin's name, address, and preferences will be e-mailed to you, and you can also view them online by logging in and clicking the "My Pumpkin" link.
What kind of gift is appropriate?
The gift should be Halloween-related, and should take your pumpkin's likes and dislikes into account. Obviously, the gift should be in good condition (not broken, half-used, etc.). Handmade items are wonderful. Don't forget that you can take advantage of after-Halloween clearances to pick up great gifts inexpensively.
How much should the gift cost?
There's an upper limit of $20. The most common range is $10 - $20.
When should gifts be mailed?
The gifts should be mailed some time between April 1 and April 15. You will receive periodic reminder e-mails to let you know that the deadline is coming up.
Can you assign a particular person to be my pumpkin?
Unfortunately, no. Not only does this kind of blow the whole point of the exchange, it puts the moderator in the position of playing favorites. The assignments are made at random using a small CGI script.
Should I reveal my identity to my pumpkin?
That's entirely up to you. Some folks like to do so; others prefer to remain anonymous. If you wish to contact your pumpkin anonymously (for instance, to let them know about the status of your gift), you can do so using the "Pumpkin Mail" feature.
I'm going to miss the April 15 deadline. What do I do?
If your gift will be delayed by a week or two, please send your pumpkin a note to let them know that they haven't been forgotten and their surprise will soon follow. If you're going to be later than that, please e-mail email@example.com so we can work something out.
I can't fulfill my commitment to mail a gift. What do I do?
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. Your pumpkin will be reassigned. You won't be penalized; everyone occasionally has things come up unexpectedly. However, if we're unable to get in touch with you, or if you're chronically unable to send a gift, we'll assume that you aren't serious about your obligation and you may be banned from participating in future exchanges.
It's past the deadline and I haven't received my gift. What do I do?
If you haven't received any correspondence from your pumpkin--either a gift or a note saying that your gift will be delayed--by April 22, please e-mail email@example.com.
I'm having trouble logging in. What do I do?
First, make sure that you're using the correct capitalization. Your e-mail address should be all lowercase, and your password should use whatever capitalization you specified when you created it. (If you don't remember your password, go to the Forgot Password page to have it mailed to you.) If you're still having trouble, click here to clear any stray session variables that might be causing a problem. If you need further assistance, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was in this year's exchange, and want to sign up for next year's. Do I have to re-enter everything?
No. After everyone receives their gifts, all users' accounts will be set to "inactive." If you want to sign up again, all you have to do is sign in to your profile and change your status to active.
I just signed in and got a message that I've been banned from future exchanges. What does this mean?
It means that you didn't send a gift to your assignee, and the moderator was unable to contact you, so it was assumed that you aren't serious about following through with your commitment. If you want to discuss future participation, e-mail email@example.com.