|Runs:||twice annually (April–June; October–December)|
|Fandom:||Sherlock Holmes & related fandoms|
|URL:||https://archiveofourown.org/collections/Holmestice (AO3); https://holmestice.dreamwidth.org (Dreamwidth)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Holmestice exchange was founded in 2010 as a gift exchange encompassing any and all fandoms featuring Sherlock Holmes, with each round climaxing on the applicable solstice (December 21 or June 21). Most participants create fanfiction, although most rounds also feature a small proportion of fanart. Recent rounds have also included podfic and fanvids.
Although it generally conforms to the exchange model typified by Yuletide, the operation of Holmestice differs in several key respects. Where Yuletide and most AO3-hosted gift exchanges rely on automated scripting to generate matches, matches for Holmestice are assigned entirely by hand, with deliberate intent to maintain a wide range of fandom matches and minimize the instance of participants matching on the same sub-fandoms round after round. Similarly, participants post detailed signups to the exchange community rather than using an AO3 form.
Also, rather than simultaneously posting the entire group of gifts for a given round, works are posted one by one in the week leading up to the relevant solstice date, allowing time for participants to read and comment on all works prior to the collection being completely accessible. At present (2019) this amounts to a rate of two to four gifts posted per day.
Works are initially released as anonymous, with creators being revealed a week following the solstice. Once the full complement of works are visible, the moderators establish a "guessing post" on the exchange community wherein participants may attempt to deduce the authorship of specific works—a feature which has become an increasingly popular pastime as the exchange has evolved. If "treat" works are submitted in addition to those assigned by the mods, these are posted during the guessing interval.
Initially, the exchange was hosted and coordinated at the Holmestice community on Livejournal, via a process where participants would send their work directly to the moderators, who would post individual works to the comm via the mod account. After AO3 came online, however, a growing proportion of participants adopted the practice of posting works to an AO3 Holmestice collection, with links to the works being posted to the Livejournal comm. Some time after the Russian buyout of Livejournal, as participants became wary of having their works posted there, the moderators ported the complete Livejournal community to Dreamwidth and advised past and present participants that they would on request delete from Livejournal any fanwork posted to the LJ comm which a creator did not want left there.
Early rounds of Holmestice were dominated by works focused on BBC Sherlock and those directly based on the original Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. However, throughout the exchange's history, the moderators made clear that participants were free to request and offer works focused on any and all Sherlock Holmes sub-fandoms, such as the Mary Russell stories, Basil of Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, and so forth. The result has been a steady and growing stream of increasingly diverse works, including a number of unusual crossovers (for example, a fusion of 22CEN and the YA Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro) and a growing body of works featuring genderswapped Holmeses (for example, based on Miss Sherlock or the 1986 Russian film My Dearly Beloved Detective). As of October 2019, the AO3 Holmestice parent collection includes 624 works in a total of 78 fandoms, though due to crossovers, not all of the 78 are actually Holmesian in origin, and a presentation given by the current moderators at the Left Coast Sherlockian Symposium reported a total of just over 900 works created for Holmestice since its inception.
While the present moderators have not maintained precise demographic information on Holmestice participants, they do report that contributors reside all over the world. In particular, Russia, the British Isles, and the United States are all represented among the community, and while all text submissions for the exchange are in English, English is not the first language for a number of participants.