How to Host a Successful Swap
So you’re interested in learning more about the hot new trend of “Swapping.” It’s the newest, best way to dump some of your unwanted stuff in exchange for a few items you will use! Swaps provide an inexpensive (and environmentally friendly) way to update a wardrobe, make over a room or trade in unwanted toys.
A swap is usually hosted in someone’s home or in the yard. It starts with a group of moms who dig out unwanted items from their closets and bring them over to the host’s house for display and trade. At the Swap, everyone gets to choose “new” stuff while munching on snacks and chatting away.
If hosting a Swap sounds good to you, you’ll need this handy checklist. It shows exactly what you’ll need to organize a successful Swap. So, stop waiting to be invited to a Swap, and host one instead! You’ll be the hit of the neighborhood.
Your swap timeline and checklist:
6 weeks before your swap
- Set a date and time.
- Select your Swappables (see the top 20 below).
- Write your invite list.
- Send invitations that include an explanation of how the event works, your name and address, the date and time, and an RSVP phone number and email address (online at Evite.com or with paper invites).
Tip: On the invitations, specify the following:
1. All items must be clean and gently used.
2. The maximum and minimum number of Swappables each guest can bring.
3. Items must be dropped off at your home prior to the Swap before X date.
4. Unclaimed items will be donated to a designated charity, unless the Swapper wants his or her items returned instead. If that is the case, that item must be clearly marked with the Swapper’s name.
5. If an item is too large to bring to the Swap, the Swapper must bring a photo with contact information.
6. Kids or no kids allowed. (If you opt for a kid-friendly Swap, set up a play zone away from the shopping area.
Four weeks before your swap
- Start gathering supplies in a single location:
1. Shopping bags
2. Newspaper/packaging material for fragile items
3. Extension cords and batteries for trying out electronics
4. Display tables
5. Full-length mirror (for clothing Swaps)
6. Measuring tape
7. Rod or clothing line to hang items
Two weeks before your swap
- Call your designated charity to arrange pickups if the leftover items are too big to drop off. Here are some organizations to try:
Vietnam Veterans: www.ClothingDonations.org / (301) 585-4000
Goodwill: www.Locator.Goodwill.org / (800) 741-0186
Salvation Army: www.SalvationArmy.org / (800) 95-TRUCK
Also consider local churches, shelters, hospitals and police departments for stuffed toys.
- Accept items delivered in advance of the Swap.
- Buy drinks and snacks. Remember, people will be busy “shopping,” so cans of soda and bottled water in a big cooler with ice will do just fine.
One day before your swap
- Email reminders to your expected Swappers.
- Prepare your display tables and rods or a clothesline for hanging.
- Make signs for display areas (e.g. boy clothes or DVDs).
Tip: Set up your display area like a store by grouping similar items and sorting by color and size.
The day of your swap
- Tie a balloon to your mailbox or otherwise make your home easily identifiable.
- Put out drinks and snacks.
- Very important: Move your personal items out of the way so they are not mistaken as part of the Swap
- Put out any latecomer items.
- Welcome your guests.
Explain how the Swap works:
1. There is a 5-minute preview as Swappers browse.
2. There is a guideline of equal exchange (one item for one item), so if you brought five items you can leave with no more than five items.
3. Grab a shopping bag and swap ’til you drop!
Relax and enjoy the Swap— and don’t forget to shop for yourself!
The day after your swap
- Clean up.
- Await the pickup of excess items by the charity or make the drop-off yourself.
Tip: Avoid the temptation to take anything out of the charity pile!
Top 20 Swappables
1. Bakeware and small appliances
2. Board games
5. Children’s toys
6. Children’s clothing
7. Clothing and accessories
8. Cookies (at holiday time)
10. Craft supplies (e.g. yarn, fabric, scrapbook materials, jewelry)
12. Food (prepared in advance, frozen and carefully labeled)
13. Gardening supplies
14. Home décor items (e.g. lamps, art, vases, figurines)
15. Home-grown garden vegetables and fruits
16. Jewelry (costume)
17. Ornaments/holiday decorations
18. Purses and totes
19. Recipes and cookbooks