Monday, September 3, 2012

My First Swap Party

About a week ago, I held my very first "Swap Party." I invited a few friends over and encouraged everyone to bring some food as well as any clothes or accessories they didn't want any more. There was no specific theme, and the whole thing was pretty casual. It was easy and everyone had fun. Here is what I did, as well as how I might improve for the next one.

Planning: I scheduled the event for a Sunday evening. I have many friends who work in retail environments, which close around 6 or 7 here in Reno. So people began arriving around 7, with the last guest coming around 7:30.
I bought plenty of food and drinks, although I probably should have bought fewer drinks, since one guest brought quite a bit of soda to contribute to the potluck.
I brought out some items of infrequently-used furniture to use for the "fixtures" of the party. We had plenty of space for everything, but one wall hook in particular was overloaded and fell down. Next time, I think I will add a tension rod to the bookshelf unit (it has no inside shelves, only the top was used) for better hanging space.

Invitations: I used Facebook to invite friends for the party. A few people who aren't on Facebook were invited by phone. This seemed to work okay, but I really wish people would respond to the Facebook invite, even to say they weren't coming. I understand that Facebook has changed the way invitations are handled on the website, so maybe a lot of people just didn't see the invitation. Or maybe, when someone RSVPd with "no," I didn't see it. I'm not sure.

The great thing about this type of party is that you can really invite anyone. I invited all of my local female friends and relatives. It is a unique opportunity to declutter, socialize, and shop at the same time. They brought a fun mix of styles and tasty treats. I promised everyone that I would donate any leftover items to a local charity.

Theme: This first-of-it's-kind event didn't have a particular theme. I encouraged everyone to "bring any unwanted items that another lady might enjoy." This translated to a very diverse shopping experience for everyone. We had a lot of clothing and accessories, as well as books, electronics, cosmetic and toiletry items, and household items.

I would like to have another swap party in early October, but I would like to emphasize a costume theme. Everyone should feel free to bring anything they like, just like last time, but I would love people to bring anything that could help make a fun Halloween costume. Wacky clothes, makeup, and accessories are more than welcome!

I think I am comfortable with hosting this type of thing every 2 months or so. Each event could have a particular emphasis.

The Flow of the Party: When everyone started arriving, food and drinks were out in the kitchen, so they could serve themselves buffet style. If someone had brought something, I put it out with the rest of the food. Most everyone sat at the dinner table and got to know each other. I had put out a book called Would You Rather? For Women as an ice-breaker and everyone really enjoyed it.

Meanwhile, I took everyone's contributions to the living room to be placed out on the "sales floor."

This table held jewelry and toiletries. It's just a folding table that I keep for those times when you need a little extra table space.

This table held household items. This table actually lives in my living room all the time, and was commandeered for the swap party.

This poor bookcase was used to hold the various books that people brought. It doesn't have shelves inside, so I used the top. Next time, I will create hanging space inside the cabinet part.

The couch held shirts and pants/skirts, organized by type.

These plastic hooks held dresses, belts, and a coat. The one with the coat kept falling down. :(

The whole thing looked great. My friends were all willing to help with setup as well! Everyone commented on how my living room looked like a real thrift store. 

After everything was set up, I joined everyone at the table and we all ate and played more "Would You Rather?" Then someone suggested that they wanted to go browse the shop, so everyone got up and looked around. It seemed like everyone found a few things that they wanted. After a little more chit-chat, people started to go. It wasn't terribly late but everyone seemed to have had fun. 

Leftovers: Once everyone was gone, I had a lot of leftover items. So, I packed them up in paper grocery bags (save for a few things I kept for myself!) and, the next day, I called the charity I had in mind, a local domestic violence shelter. It turns out that their storage was currently full and they were unable to accept any more donations at the time, but they referred me to another group, a women's substance-abuse treatment center. They, too, happened to be full and referred me to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Luckily, they were not full and even had a drop-off center really close to my house. I gave them all 6 bags full of various items, and from what I understand, BBBS sells the items to the local Savers stores to raise money. 

I am so pleased with how it went. I would definitely do it again. Have you ever hosted or attended a swap party? Tell us about it in the comments!

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