Throw a Swap Meet Party

Photo: mattjeacock

I’m pretty skeptical about suggestions I read in magazines found in my local salon. Maybe it’s all those fumes. I walk away kind of light headed ready to believe that I can have great abs and thighs in two weeks and that I can do anything I set my mind to with little or no preparation. So it was with much trepidation that I ever actually try a suggestion coming from the mags in the salon. Thankfully, my best friend and hairdresser, Kristy, is not so skeptical.

She found an article in January’s Better Homes and Gardens that suggested throwing a swap meet party. Get together with friends and neighbors, clean out the closets, and perhaps come home with something fun without spending any money. Sure, I thought. But will it be successful? For the most part it was.

First, Kristy — the queen of making everything perfect — came up with clever invitations and invited some of her best clients at the salon and some friends. Key to a successful attempt at this seems to be inviting people of varied taste so that no one universally thinks one thing is trash and the other thing treasure. We were instructed to each bring 5 items in really good condition. Clothes had to be perfectly wearable. Nothing should have needed fixing in any sort of way. Where Kristy got clever was making sure she chose guests for the party that did not all have the same taste.

It was easy to find 5 new or newish items around the house that I wanted to let go. Sometimes people will send us things that are a bit too country for me (it frequently happens to those of us in rural areas). What was I to do with an Americana faux bicentennial quilt, a beautiful blouse not in my colors, and assorted cowboy accoutrements? So I brought over my treasures and displayed them around her living room as others had done with theirs.

Kristy gave us five clothes pins color coded for each of us. I was red! I then went around the room and put the clothespins on five different items since I brought 5 items. Unless I had the competition of another clothespin, the item under my clothespin belonged to me. When two or more guests went for the same item, we then had to do a drawing for it.

I got some great wooden shelves for my son’s room and a perfectly good karaoke thing for my daughter who I’m sure will be done with it in less that a year so why buy one?

Kristy got to know her clients a little better that day, which is always a plus.

Of course she had a great quiche and mimosas to liven the mood. In just two hours we all got rid of unnecessary stuff that felt a little too good for the thrift store and we came home with some great new to us items. We are planning another one at the beginning of summer. Want to join us?

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Guest's picture
Guy G.

When I first read the title I immediately thought of a wealthy farmer. Like getting the neighbours over for a barn raising, a pot-luck or something that brings everyone together to accomplish something without blowing the bank.

When I read a little further, I'd have to admit that I've just discovered one of wisebread's great tips on budgeting that I've read recently. The only challenge I find with this concept is psychology. I'd love to try this, but I'd hate to get some crap from a friend and part with something I like.

I'd also hate to be the friend viewed as supplying the crap - lol

Anyway, interesting post.

Guest's picture

I also put on a swap meet party after reading the article in Better Homes and Gardens. It was great fun! Each person could bring up to ten items and of course they needed to be clean and in good shape. We had everything from dishes to never used lotions and make-up. I ended up with a new cookbook, a devotional book, some make-up and a beautiful candle holder. It was a great way to go "shopping" without spending a dime.

All in all, a great reason to get together and have some fun!

Julie Rains's picture

I've been part of similar events where you bring good stuff that just isn't useful to you and items are sold or auctioned off as a "white elephant" sale / fund-raiser rather than an exchange. But the swap meet party sounds like fun, a great excuse for a party, and an excellent way to save money.  

Guest's picture

Our street has a block sale once a year and it's wonderful, we make good money, get rid of things we no longer need or want and get to hang out with the neighbors with coffee and bagels in the morning (and margaritas in the afternoon, depending how late the event goes! :)

We pick the same date every year, the third weekend in July, everyone saves up their stuff all year long knowing when the event is, so you can price and tag leisurely. And you get to go check out the neighbor's stuff early :)

Some families pick a charity to donate proceeds to, like the local sports' team, soup kitchen, etc. Win-win and we all look forward to the party.

Guest's picture
Karen Wells

We held a Swap Meet at our Community Center after reading the article in the Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Over 20 people attended, even had some kids. It turned out great and they are now asking to do it again.