A couple weeks back my friend Nicole and I co-hosted a swap party together. Nicole was the perfect co-host as she has a beautiful home and is probably one of the few people who is more organized than I am! (side note: it would be a fallacy to say that I'm not an organized being; however, I have a husband who is the exact opposite of me. The concept that everything has a home and should be put back in it's respective home is a foreign concept to dear husband. But he's thoughtful and God knew what he was doing when he brought us together. We're a good yin/yang balance. That being said, don't ever come over to my house unannounced and expect tidiness!) Anyway, Nicole does a great job of balancing being an English teacher at two colleges, being a freelance editor, and making time for her husband, energetic 4-year old son and their Boston Terrier. And of course being a very talented blogger with an eye for the aesthetic.
It was a lot of fun and something new for our friends. The swap party idea was something that I had seen floating around the internet and in several blogs. I had been kicking it around in my head for months and it took partnering with Nicole to finally bring the party to fruition. She's good at the details. I knew that all of us would have at least one item to swap, but I thought it would be an even better reason for everyone to get together without any of us spending a lot of money. The trickiest part of the whole thing was probably convincing people their stuff was good enough for the swap - many of our friends thought their stuff was too trashy. None of us are Kennedys or Rockafellers, so I don't think anyone expected any of the items to be of large scale grandeur :)
Nicole and I organized the swap into three catagories: clothing/accessories, home furnishings, and kitchen items. Originally we had told people 5 items per person, but as we started getting mixed feedback about the number of items people were bringing we decided to not limit the items. We also had originally requested that people try and get their things to us ahead of time. This was causing some difficulties for people, so we allowed everyone to bring their things with them prior to the swap. I think that if we would have had a huge number of participants or items, this choice might have been a little chaotic, but it worked for our party. Any unswapped items at the evenings end could be left in a tote by the door for Goodwill or could be reclaimed by the owner.
We initially sent a save the date email about one month prior to the party and then sent an official Paperless Post email invitation about 10 days before the actual party. We followed Real Simple's suggestions for hosting a swap party and I think it worked pretty well. Everyone drew numbers as to the order in which they got to pick their items. This number correlated with the number of items they brought to swap. For example, if you brought five items, you got to draw five numbers, thus getting to take home five items with you. Some wives were given strict instruction from their husbands if there were any flat screen televisions or Blueray players, to make sure they got those items first. Husbands are silly :)
Nicole and I also provided munchies: Mint Milano cookies, Jelly Belly jelly beans, mixed nuts, pita chips, chocolates. Nicole made some yummy raspberry shortbread bars and I made classic chocolate chip cookies and a new lemon bar recipe (I'll post the recipe for the lemon bars at a later time). We also provided decaf coffee with some fun creamers and pink lemonade. Nicole and I followed a black/white/pink party theme, so we had some pretty pink accents. Nicole's husband, Josh, said that it clearly was a girls party. Apparently pink is abhorrent to guys :)
All in all, it was a fun evening. We all stood around the kitchen mingling and chatting and seeing what each other picked. Household items proved to be the hot items of the evening - we had everything from huge potted plants, decorative bowls, to shower curtains. Clothes proved to be a little tricker. The party served as a great excuse for spring cleaning and I look forward to doing another swap party in the future, perhaps with different swap catagories. One woman's junk is another woman's treasure!
The photo collage is courtesy of Sarah Franczky, of Franczyk Photography