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How to Host a Swap Party

Do you remember that summer dress you bought at the spur of the moment but only wore twice? Or the Barbie doll your princess outgrew? How about that once-read Malcolm Gladwell book now collecting dust on the shelf? Time to host a swap party! It’s the perfect way to clear clutter and share with your community without using your cash or credit cards.

Here are some tips to help you plan and host your very own swap party for a group of friends.

Step 1: Theme

Use your imagination and create your very own swap party theme, such as:

  • Books
  • Media
  • Halloween
  • Kid's toys
  • Video/board games
  • Baked goods (e.g. cookies)
  • Clothing and fashion accessories
  • Home appliances

Step 2: Preparation

Being prepared for your swap party is important. Evaluate how much space and help you will need. Suggest to your guests how many items they should bring. With 10 swappers and 10 items each, you will have a selection of 100 swappables so make sure you’ve got enough space to display these items. Borrow extra tables from neighbours or friends if necessary. Set up dropped-off items on the tables and use labels to categorize your swappables (e.g. movie genres, clothing sizes, age group) so guests can drop-off and pick up items in an organized fashion. Don’t forget any extra items you might needs for a particular swap—a clothing swap calls for a few full length mirrors, clothing racks (if you have some) and space to try on clothing. A cookie swap will need trays. Accessible power outlets are needed to test electronic items and appliances. Get creative and work your magic!

Step 3: Invitations

Send invitations to friends one month in advance. This allows them to schedule the event and get prepared. Provide instructions on how the swap will work. Set standards on the items to be swapped by specifying things like no stains, no scratches, no dents or damage. Your guests need to be clear about what to bring and what not to bring. Send a follow-up reminder a few days before the big event. Keep in mind, not everyone who RSVPs will show up. Eco-lovers, ask your guests to bring reusable bags to pack their ‘new’ items. Help your guests get ready for a swap with these helpful tips.

Step 4: Refreshments and Snacks

Swaps are fun, social events. Set the ambiance depending on the theme with music, tablecloths, lighting and snacks. Treat your guests to wine and cheese. Not into alcohol? Make it an afternoon English tea party with scones and sandwiches.

Step 5: System of Fairness

To avoid unfairness, get a hat and draw names, have a free-for-all swap or use a combination of these. If two or more people show an interest in a similar item, use the hat once more. Get your guests to place their finds in the recyclable bags they brought and have a few extra handy in case they forget to bring it.

Step 6: Guest Arrival

When guests arrive get them to place their items based on categories. Recruit helpers to lend you a hand welcoming everyone and setting up items while guests mingle and enjoy some food. Use tokens as your swapping currency with one token equalling one swappable. If guests check in four items, they can check out four items. Hand-out buttons, toothpicks, marbles or custom-make placement cards with a number that corresponds to the total number of items each guest checks in.

Step 7: Swapping

This is the highlight of the evening! Snap some pictures of the swap. Share them with friends, family or send us some photos! The swap is sure to be the centre of conversation for days to come.

Step 8: Donation

At the end of the night, see how much you have swapped. Some of your guests might take home fewer items than they brought in. Consider donating these left over items to charity. Not-for-profit organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are happy to accept donations.

Hosting a swap party is the best thing you can do for your wallet, your community and the environment. Everyone gets to take home ‘new’ items while getting rid of something they no longer need. Above all, it’s a good excuse to catch up with old friends.

Share Your Stories With Us!

Do you have any swap party stories or pictures to share? We would love to hear your experiences and might even feature you on our blog!

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