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Party Ideas - How to Host a Swap Party

Updated on May 9, 2011
Lily Rose profile image

Some may call me a shopaholic. I like to discover new things that improve my life! I love providing real & honest reviews to help others.

Who wouldn’t like to go shopping for new stuff – clothing to home décor and even kids stuff – for free?  Throw a swap party at home and you can do just that!  So go clean out your closets and garages, grab your friends, and have fun swapping your stuff at a party where everyone will leave happy with new stuff and no one has to spend a penny!

Many people (I think mostly moms) are hearing a lot about these kinds of parties – they’re popping up everywhere because they’re a great way to have fun, get rid of what you no longer want or need and take home something new – for free!  Plus, you’re recycling all of the swapped items, so you can be happy and proud that you’re being green. 

Here’s how a swap party works:

Invite a few friends and ask them to bring anything that they have that they no longer want and that they’d be willing to swap.  Another option would be to make it specific - a clothing swap party or a kids stuff swap party are a couple of popular themes.

Lay everything out so that everyone has a chance to check out everything available for swapping; give people a chance to browse a bit.

Then allow everyone participating to take turns selecting one item for each item that they brought.

The only rule is that everything brought for swapping must be clean and in good condition – common sense, yes, but it should be mentioned because you never know…

Example of a swap party set up...
Example of a swap party set up...

Here are some swap party tips:

  • The dining room is a great place to situate your swap party.  Just protect the table with a table cloth – you could even use wide kraft paper as a table runner for a simple, clean, and cool look.  Gather some plain (and clean) cardboard boxes and use them on the table to display items at different heights for easier viewing by everyone in attendance.  If the boxes aren’t plain, giving them a quick wrap in kraft, or other solid, paper will give the table a cohesive look and make the items stand out better.  At the end of the party, the boxes can be used to pack up items for your guests to take home, or to pack up any leftovers for donation.
  • If you need even more space, scoot the dining chairs back from the table and use them to lean, drape, and stack swap items on (and under if needed).
  • A good size party to start with is five guests, each with ten items to swap.  Keep the invitations simple, like a printout of the party details glued to a piece of cardboard – remember, recycling is the idea!
  • Keep the food you serve to guests light and easy.  If it’s a weekend morning, perhaps a coffee bar with some stir-ins like ground cinnamon, cardamom, marshmallows, and white and dark chocolate chunks.  Easy things that are portable and easy to munch and browse would be best.  A simple table décor idea is to simply use a roll of wrapping paper on the table, underneath the coffee or other refreshments set-up.
  • As your guests arrive, tag each of their items (have a stash of tags ready) or have them write their own description and “selling points” of their items.  The tags, too, can be cut from cardboard – just punch a hole on one end and use an adhesive mailing label to top it with the description of the item.
  • Create a way for your guests to “claim” the items that they want to take home.  One good idea is to use clothes pins.  Monogram them with a marker or stick-on letters and instruct each person to clip their clothespin to the tag of the item they want.  More than one person can clip a pin on an item’s tag – when multiple people want one item, take all of the clothespins pinned to it, place them in a hat and draw a winner.
  • At the end of the party, have any guests who remain help you to box up any leftovers and donate them to a local Good Will or other charity or shelter. 


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    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Hi Habby! Do you mean the tags with descriptions of the items? I guess they're really not necessary - it's just a way to add any additional information about an object that people may want or need to know before deciding if they want it, like how old something is... It also functions as a good place clip pins to if that's what you use to "claim" what you want.

      These are just suggestions, I'm sure a swap party without tags would work out just fine.

    • Habby profile image

      Habby 7 years ago from College Station, Texas

      Lily Rose, great hub, as always! One question though, why the tags? I think I might not understand why they are necessary. In other words, have you ever held a swap party without tags and it worked out okay?

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Me too! My sister and my aunt recently bought new homes and started over pretty much from scratch - I wish I could go shopping in their current homes! I shoudl say that I did get lucky with several great hand-me-downs from my sister!

    • rgarnett profile image

      Rachael Fields 7 years ago from KC, MO

      WOW. I didn't even know this was something to do. Thanks for the idea. I love shopping in other people's closets.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks for the comments!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      Great idea! I hadn't heard about people doing this, so I hope others will read your blog and do it.

    • Lyria profile image

      Lyria 7 years ago

      Fantastic! Great hub and ideas!

    • profile image

      Tina 7 years ago

      What an incredible idea !!!!

      Why didn't I think of this before? Love it, will do it !!

      Love the idea of the tags and clothespins.

      You are incredible ! Should have your own show on TV.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Yes, it is - I like the kid theme myself because it's great for me to get rid of clutter, get my kids a few new toys and have fun...for free!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      That ir a great idea to clean out the wardrobe.