Officially, Yuletide Madness starts on the 23rd of December. In an attempt to ensure that everyone has fics in spite of potential last-minute defaults, a list of unfulfilled requests is made public and anyone is allowed to write treats from those prompts. On the 24th, the 1,000-word minimum is removed and participants are free to write drabbles and snippets for any of the requests.
Unofficially, many participants peruse Yuletide letters and start writing treats in advance. Sometimes participants hold off on posting such treats until Yuletide Madness starts, but sometimes they post them to the main archive as they finish writing them (see Posting section below).
Simply put, a treat is a story that a participant writes that wasn't assigned to them. A participant can write a treat:
- for their assigned recipent by fulfilling a second request,
- for one of the unfulfilled requests that are made public on the 23rd, and/or
Treats 1,000 words and over can be posted on the main Yuletide archive, although some people still prefer to post them in the Yuletide Madness archive.
Treats under 1,000 words must be posted in the Yuletide Madness archive, which opens on or about December 23.
While the general attitude among exchange participants is the more stories written the better, some people feel that posting a treat for a request that has an official writer is stepping on the toes of that writer. It is considered polite to tag treats as treats. This way, if there does happen to be an official writer for that specific request, the treat at least acknowledges that.
Sometimes there are hurt feelings when a writer obviously preferred writing a treat over his/her official assignment, or when a reader who received multiple gifts/treats obviously preferred one of the other. In order to mitigate these feelings, it is suggested that participants do not publicly gush too much about one treat over the other.