The 'buzz fairy' movement: Why women are dropping off boozy gift baskets for strangers

Yahoo Life
Birdie Ford's Whimsical Wine Fairies members have delivered treats like this mermaid-theme assortment. (Photo: Birdie Ford)
Birdie Ford's Whimsical Wine Fairies members have delivered treats like this mermaid-theme assortment. (Photo: Birdie Ford)

Birdie Ford, a beauty brand director in California, hasn’t been out on the town with her girlfriends in months. But thanks to a steady flow of gift baskets stuffed with her favorite wines and other treats, the mom of two — and countless women just like her — has been enjoying some semblance of a girls’ night out, all while safely sheltering in place at home.

While its precise origins are murky, with likeminded Facebook groups primarily spilling out of the Northeast, South, California and Pacific Northwest, the “buzz fairy” (a.k.a. beer fairy, booze fairy, wine fairy, corona fairy, Sisterhood of the Traveling Wine and so on) movement has emerged as a pandemic pick-me-up for adult women looking to connect socially and spread joy during this difficult time by relying on a popular motivator: free alcohol.

The rules are simple: Members, in most cases women aged 21 and up, though some local groups are open to adult men, share their personal eating and drinking preferences alongside their address. A fellow member will then hit the shops, gathering an assortment of treats (and perhaps a few surprises like beauty masks, bath bombs or toys for those with kids) which they’ll pack up in a basket or gift bag and hand-deliver to the recipient’s home. In keeping with the fairy theme, some members don wings or other costumes as they sneak their surprises onto front porches and stoops. How much is spent is typically up to a member’s discretion, but those who receive are expected to pay it forward for someone else.

Ford tells Yahoo Life that she started her own spinoff group — dubbed Whimsical Wine Fairies which boasts more than 2,000 members — in May after she herself got “wined” (some members also refer to receiving their deliveries as being “dusted”).

”I was wined on a day that was going completely wrong,” she says. “I was on the verge of tears and then I heard a loud knock at my door. Upon opening it I was overwhelmed with emotion when I looked down...it made my day. My emotions were immediately changed into joy and I wanted other women like me to feel that magic.”

Ford says the movement is about “rekindling those girls’ nights we all missed,” and likes to throw in a bottle of her favorite Stella Rosa wine as well as products from her organic beauty range, The Bathing Bakery. Themed baskets are also popular, with one recent delivery featuring a pink inflatable pool float laden with a sun hat and various boozy summer essentials.

This unicorn fairy delivery came with wine, beauty products and a gift card. (Photo: Birdie Ford)
This unicorn fairy delivery came with wine, beauty products and a gift card. (Photo: Birdie Ford)

Ford — whose group now calls her the “Fairy GawdMutha” — attributes the trend’s popularity to a need to fill the social void created by the pandemic.

“Social distancing has been lonely for a lot of us,” she says. “Missing out on daily interactions has made us appreciative of any interaction with others. However, our interactions are so exciting, it's almost addictive. We see members giving more than expected.”

The gifting aspect also appeals, she says, to members that don’t drink alcohol, but still want to take part.

“There's nothing but pure joy in giving and receiving gifts for no reason,” Ford says. Of all the treats that have come her way, she says “the best gift is happiness from others when they receive.”

A Wine Fairies haul from Mississippi included chips, candy, wine, a puzzle and a bath bomb. (Photo: Calli Collins)
A Wine Fairies haul from Mississippi included chips, candy, wine, a puzzle and a bath bomb. (Photo: Calli Collins)

Calli Collins, who organized a “Wine Fairy” group in her Mississippi community, agrees.

“It feels good to receive stuff, but it makes you feel even better when you’re giving to people,” she tells Yahoo Life.

“I just think with everything going on in the world, it makes women feel good to lift each other up,” she adds.

Collins estimates that she’s sent out about 15 gift baskets, and has been “dusted” roughly five times, with loot ranging from small bottles of liquor and candy bars to wine glasses and adult coloring books. As her group grows to include out-of-state members, she’s added an option to create Amazon wish lists with items priced $15 or under; that way, a gift is sent directly rather than requiring a trip to the post office.

Megan Stockton, a member of a “buzz fairies” group based in Central Texas, says making pirate-themed treasure chests packed with rosé, champagne and, yes, Pirate’s Booty snacks has been a welcome break from the norm.

“I thought it was a fun way to make someone’s day,” says Stockton, one of the first to join a group that now has about 18,000 members. “It blew up so fast! Apparently, everyone thought the same thing. It’s been a fun break in all the negativity out in the world right now.”

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