If you’ve got stuff you no longer want or love, one of the best ways to get new stuff is to swap with someone else. They probably have stuff they no longer want, too, so a swap works for both of you. You get rid of your unwanted stuff, get new stuff, and the other person gets the same benefits. But swapping doesn’t have to be just a one on one transaction. You can start a swap group and make swapping a fun, social event.
You can organize a swap amongst your friends or coworkers and have it in your home, or host a larger swap at a place like a community center or library. If you want a big group, you can advertise your swap idea on public bulletin boards or in the local paper. Agree on a time and place and have everyone bring the items they want to swap. You can either specify a single item to be swapped (e.g., books), or just make it a free for all with everyone bringing in anything they want to swap. Here are some potential swappable items:
Coupon swaps are big these days. People bring in coupons they don’t need and swap them for ones they can use. For example, a woman with no kids may clip and bring in diaper coupons in the hope that she can swap for some pet coupons from someone who doesn’t have pets.
If your friends have kids similar in age to yours, you can swap kids clothes that are still in good condition. This may be easier than consigning them or having a yard sale to get rid of them.
Toys and games
Bring in the toys your kids have aged out of or no longer play with and swap them for “new” ones.
Find someone with the same console as you and swap your titles.
Clothes swapping isn’t limited to kids. Adults can swap, too.
You may not be able to bring large pieces to a swap group, but I’ve heard of people swapping couches and dining room groups in order to change up their decor for free.
Beyond furniture, you can swap picture frames, vases, curtains, decorative pillows, or any other home items.
Books, DVD’s, CD’s
Both adult and kid’s titles work well at swaps as someone is always looking for new media to replace the stuff they’ve grown tired of.
After the holidays is a great time to swap gift cards. A lot of people get cards to places they never shop, so a swap can give people a chance to trade for cards they can use.
Some people dump their holiday decor each year so that they can decorate with a new theme or color scheme the next year. You may be able to swap some of your unwanted decor for something that will match your new vision.
Produce (grown in your own garden)
If you live in an area where lots of people have gardens, you may be able to swap your green beans for your neighbor’s cucumbers. Or, if you’re into canning or making jams, you can swap those for other items.
If you have a marketable talent or skill, you may be able to swap that for something else you need. For example, if you can decorate a lovely birthday cake, perhaps you can trade that for a couple of new outfits for your kids.
The rules of swapping are limited only by your group and their preferences. You don’t have to trade like items for like items, for example. You could opt to trade some books for some movies, or some produce for a picture frame. You’ll probably want to swap items of similar value, but even that rule can be changed if people are willing to work a different deal. Just make sure that everyone is happy with any deals that get made. You don’t want hurt feelings and festering resentments to wreck your swap group.
A successful swap depends on the group members. If you’ve got someone who always brings broken junk, for example, and expects to trade for quality items, you may need to take that person aside and speak to them. Similarly, if you’ve got someone who is always pushing for an unfair deal and making other people uncomfortable, you may want to rethink their invitation to the meets. You want your swaps to be fun and social, not something to be dreaded or avoided because you’ve got some schmucks in the group. If you’ve got a good group, though, swapping can be a fun and social way to get some stuff you need while getting rid of some stuff you no longer want.
(Photo courtesy of Marshall Astor)