Monday, November 7, 2011

How to orgaize a swap

Get rid of the clutter and trade your unused stuff for new treasures!
My friend had a yard sale with too much of the good stuff left over. That inspires me to write about what I call "White Elephant" swaps. This is one of the most fun, money saving, generous, bonding parties ever. Here's how I have organized them in the past with all the details. You can of course do it how ever you want. This is about being creative and having fun. The first one is usually not the best because people don't understand how letting go of the good stuff means getting back even better stuff.

My first swap was done as a young mama. My friends were all married less than a couple of years and we all had wedding gifts that we didn't ever use. Fifteen years later I have some jewelry that I still wear.
In those years we had regular swaps. One time I found a sweater that I had loved and given away. I took it back again, only to find that I still never wore it. I still loved it but somehow just never reached for that sweater.

It's a great feeling to know that people you like will enjoy the goodies you're letting go of. And because you're getting such good stuff in return, you'll never look back about the letting go. You'll probably take less than you bring, but that's the idea! You're taking new things you'll love even more, lightening up your own clutter, and all that's left goes to charity!

Here how it works:

Invite between 4-14 girlfriends to your house for a swap. Send them a letter introducing the concept.

Dear Friends,
Time for the semi-annual swap!
Dig deep and get out all the stuff that:
  • You love but just don't use/wear any more
  • You don't love because it was a gift and not your style
  • Doesn't fit any more
  • You got on sale and never used
  • It's too good to just give away to Goodwill
Here are the categories, but don't limit yourself, this is just for ideas:
  • clothing (including men's and kids if other moms are coming)
    • womens
    • mens
    • children
    • infant
  • shoes
  • books, cd's, dvd's
    • children's books
  • jewelry
  • scarves, hats, gloves
  • kitchen items
    • small appliances, kitchen linens
  • coupons for services
  • office supplies
  • gardening supplies
  • secret recipe in a sealed envelope
  • cosmetics and perfumes
  • linens
  • pictures, art, and knick knacks
  • throw rugs
You don't need to bring much, just show up!

Here's how the swap works.

Once all the items are laid out, everyone takes 10 minutes to just "window shop". The idea here is to find your top two or three items that will make you happy if you can go home with them. After the group comes together, then everyone goes to take their first pick. 
  • If two women want the same item, one will usually move on. If not, they should just look into each other's eyes. They'll "know" who it should go to. The one who lets go takes another pick.
Have a two or three rounds of top picks. Then, "go shopping!" There is no keeping score. Take what you want. The first half hour or so should just be picks for yourself, nothing for a friend yet, let the women participating have a chance to get what they want.

When people are done choosing. Time to clean up. It's worth it to stay for this. As things get folded and put into trash bags for charity, new things are found that were overlooked before. You will be surprised when you get home with your goodies that something you just took at the last minute could be your favorite for years.  

Questions? Post in comments and I'm happy to share more tips.
Aunt Laya

Thanks to SideShowMom and for the perfect photo!

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