A hot trend during an economic downturn, Oprah even featured Swap Parties on her Oprah’s Favorite Things show. A Swap Party isn’t so much a gift, as a way to get items for yourself and your family that you need. These items can be given as is, or wrapped and given as gifts.
There are many types of Swap Parties, and Christmas is just one annual event that triggers them. Back-to-School is another time when Swap Parties are a hit.
The concept behind Swap Parties is that everyone brings something to the party, and everyone takes home something. What you bring depends upon the type or theme of the Swap Party. On Oprah’s show, the theme was musical instruments and sporting equipment. A popular Swap Party theme is clothing.
The best themes for Swap Parties are those that are for items that may easily be found with little wear, tend to be expensive, and are long-lasting. Most people want items that look new or in very good condition.
When hosting a Swap Party, be sure to briefly explain in the invitation what it is and what type of items are to be brought. Also be sure to explain that all items must be or look new, and be in good condition. Each person may take home with them the same number of items as they bring.
It is common for hosts to choose a theme based upon the time of year such as children’s clothing for back-to-school and toys for Christmas, or upon the needs of their family. Since the point of the party is to keep costs down, it is important to not go crazy with refreshments or decorations. When having a Swap Party, it is acceptable to do potluck if you want food at it. For some, it is more of a ‘get in and get out’ type event where items are put out for the taking, and as choices are made, people leave with their ‘new’ items.
Some hosts like to have some type of token and cashiering system, so each contributor gets one token per item that they may then use to ‘buy’ their selections. Displaying the items can be as simple or fancy as you want it to be. Some set up tables, ladders, and racks to set items on. Others just drape them over whatever is handy. When swapping clothes, it is important to have a dressing room and mirror available for attendees.
For more ideas about themes and Swap Parties, there are many fun resources to check. One such resource is Recycling Week, which provides a very detailed look at what to consider and how to host one.
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Have a Thrifty Holdiay – Swap Parties
Recyling Week – Hosting Your Own Swap Party