No matter what you’re swapping, follow these tried-and-true rules to keep the event organized, on track and fun.
Set the date: Send out a group e-mail notice several weeks in advance with the day, time and location, as well as an earlier drop-off date if you want to get items ready beforehand.
Over-communicate: Lay the ground rules in the invitation. How many items should swappers bring and in what condition, and what can participants take home? Will you draw numbers to take turns, or will everyone shop at once? If you’re using a point system to value goods, list them (say, 1 to 4, with 4 being the most valuable). Restate the rules at the start of the event and post them on the wall.
Prep the place: Make sure you have suitable space to display everything and have a party. If you don’t, consider asking your church, school or community center or a local restaurant if it can offer a suitable area.
Share the load: In addition to a host and organizer, assign a secretary to tally points or keep track of tickets. Rotate roles at each event so nobody burns out.
Donate leftovers: Create a plan for giving away items that don’t get selected, and let everyone know before the swap. Be sure to get a receipt for your donated items (most should be tax-deductible). Some suggestions: Goodwill (goodwill.org), a women’s shelter and a rescue mission.
Enjoy: Schedule time for fun after the swap. Ask everyone to bring a dish to share and offer drinks so friends can celebrate their thriftiness and new finds.