If you are passionate about crafting then you are sure to have a growing stash of craft supplies lurking in your home. You know, the ones that you bought to complete a project that you didn’t end up working on, or the supplies that were just too good of a sale to pass up! How about all of those craft supplies left over from your kid’s craft kits? While we may have the best intentions of eventually using those supplies, our craft closets can often look like a scary episode of Hoarders. So what is a crafty girl to do? Host a good ol’ fashioned craft supply swap of course!
Hosting a craft supply swap is a great way to give new life to materials that would otherwise be thrown out or collecting dust on a shelf. It is also a great excuse for a fun night out, catching up with friends, and acquiring some new craft products to play with.
So let’s get planning!
Create a guest list
Now this step will take some thought. You might be tempted to call all of your closest girlfriends; however, I would urge you to only invite guests who actually CRAFT! While your best friend or favorite co-worker might be the sweetest person ever, unless she crafts or has kids she may not have a lot to offer this party by way of craft supplies. Just saying. It may also be helpful to think about the type of crafting your guests participate in. Are they mostly knitters, jewelry makers, sewers, or general crafters? If you end up with ten knitters and only two jewelry makers there might not be enough variety in craft materials to satisfy your guests.
It is also important to take into consideration the number of invitees. A good rule of thumb is to figure out the number of guests that would make an ideal party and add 20% to the guest list. Just because someone RSVP’d does not mean they will actually show up. Last minute situations may arise causing some guests to have to cancel, and having more guests on your invitation list will allow room for no shows.
Save the Date
Pick a day and time that you anticipate working best with the schedules of your guests. Do most of your guests work? Then an evening party might be better. Do a lot of your guests have school aged children? Then why not plan a morning swap after school drop off? Also make sure to plan around holidays, or times when school may be out of session to make sure you will not be competing with other events. Send the invitation at least a month in advance to allow your guests enough time to purge their craft closets and prepare their swap items.
Set the Swap Rules
Decide how your swap will work. One idea is to go around the room having each guest take a turn picking an item until all of the items are gone. This system is very simple and will require minimal effort to plan.
Another option, which requires a little bit more planning up front, is to create a ticket system for shopping. Prior to arriving at the party have your guests determine the retail value of each item they would like to swap. Tickets will be given to guests based on the value of the items they bring. For example, items with a value between $1.00-$5.00 will receive one ticket, $6-$10 two tickets, and so on. So if a guest brings three items, each with a value of $8.00, that guest will receive 6 tickets to shop with. This system will help alleviate any unfairness that may arise from some guests bringing more items to swap, or an item that is higher in retail price.
Make sure to include this information with your invitation so guests will know exactly what to expect when they arrive. It is also a nice touch to provide your guests with an idea of items they could swap. Included in this list may be: craft books or magazines, scrapbook materials, craft tools, kid’s crafts, yarn, fabric, beads, stamps, etc. Anything goes that is craft related and in good condition. Remind guests to bring their own bags to shop with so that they have something to take their new items home in!
Prepare your swap items
Clean out your craft stash! Be brutally honest with yourself here. Yes the idea to learn how to knit may have been exciting, but have you even touched those knitting needles and 9 skeins of yarn in the past year? Make sure all of the craft supplies that you will swap are in good shape and usable (no almost empty bottles of Aileen’s Tacky Glue please!) If you do not have the original packaging for your items then place the materials in a clear zip lock storage bag. Also if you are bringing tools make sure they are clean, in working order, and have any necessary owner’s manuals included.
Set Up Shop
The day of the party tidy up your home, clear away clutter, and create shopping zones for guests. Think about how you can arrange your home to look like a store. Can you display items on shelves, bring out extra tables, and even use pretty bowls or baskets to display products? Can you cover the tables with pretty fabric or table cloths? This step is not meant to be a stressful chore but it will be more fun for everyone to shop in a well organized and visually appealing “store”.
Once you have decided where everything will go, then make simple signs to designate each shopping zone. The swap rules will determine this step. If you are doing a ticket based swap you will need to designate areas based on the value of the items or tickets needed to “purchase” each item. If you are having guests take turns choosing items and forgoing tickets then you can set up the shop by categories which may include: knitting, kids crafts, scrapbooking, card making, stamping, wood crafts, craft tools, etc.
Ask guests to arrive an hour before the swap will begin. This will allow you enough time to set out the craft supplies, and this also gives your guests a chance to mingle and peruse the swap items. Provide light appetizers or a simple desert and a drink such as coffee, wine, or bottled water. Make sure to provide plenty of seating for guests while they await their time to shop. Prior to shopping, remind guests of the general rules for the swap.
Wrap It Up
At the end of the party give guests the option to take home any supplies they brought that were not swapped. Consider donating all of the left over items to charity. Homeless shelters, schools, and churches can always use craft materials, and your donation would be a welcomed one!