Hosting a Swap Party with Unskinny Boppy!

June 4, 2013 | by Jocie (email) |

Need some fabulous tips for hosting a swap party and organizing clutter? Well, my friend Beth from Unskinny Boppy stopped by to tell you all about it while I’m on vacay in Orlando. Don’t be jealous. It’s awesome, I know. Thanks so much to Beth for doing my work while I slack, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get home.

Hey everyone! I’m Beth! I blog at Unskinny Boppy, where I talk about my latest home DIY projects and decorating ideas. I appreciate Jocie giving me the opportunity to take the wheel on the awesome blog that is One Project Closer and The Better Half. If you like what you read here, I invite you to join me on my facebook page or follow me on Pinterest.


With less than a month before Summer, there is still time to do your Spring cleaning. Open up your closets and take a good hard look around. Does it look like Martha Stewart lives in your home? If so, this post is most definitely not for you. If you are anything like me, your closets are filled to the brim with stuff that you don’t need or want, but for some reason you keep holding onto it all in the hopes that you’ll eventually find a way to put some of it to use.

I am not ashamed to say that I am a packrat. I hail from a long line of packrats. My Grandparents kept everything, down to the owner’s manual from a 1972 Honda, because you just never know when you might find a use for THAT forty years later.

The problem with being a packrat is that I have closets, drawers and countertops full of clutter so high and so wide that it seems to grow at a rate faster than I can clear it away. It seems that no matter the size of the house or the square footage of storage space, the clutter just keeps piling up. Although I am an admitted packrat, all the clutter makes me feel anxious and stressed, so occasionally I force an intervention upon myself and clean out some of the chaos to donate to charity. Actually, that’s not true…. I get on Pinterest and pin pretty pictures of organized pantries and spotless laundry rooms to my Creating a Haven of Organization Pinterest Board. But every once in a while I get a wild hair and start shoveling out the closets. It’s my personal litmus test to see how far up the hoarder scale I really am.

Some of you may have this exact same problem, so I would like to share with you one of the best ways I’ve found to help tame this clutter beast.

While a simple closet clean out and a run to the donation center is great, sometimes I find that my inner accumulator is not able to part with those items that are still in really great shape, especially if I paid a lot of money for them. This is when I have to move to Plan B and start a Swap Party pile.

What is a Swap Party, you ask? Well, quite simply, it’s the greatest thing a packrat like me can do for myself in a time of clutter crisis.

Here are my Ten Tips For Hosting a Successful Swap Party:

  • Contact about ten or more of your girlfriends and family members (preferably the ones who have the best taste!) and ask them to clean out their closets. Tell them to load up the very best items that they no longer use. These items can be anything- clothes, jewelry, books, craft supplies, home decor, Christmas decorations, anything except spouses and pets. The caveat is that the items MUST be in good condition and still look unused. If you don’t clarify this part you might have people bringing dried up containers of Noxzema that have been hiding under their bathroom counter since 1992. Trust me on this. I’m not going to name names, but I’m just warning that you need to be very specific about the condition of the items you want swapped.
  • Send out some invites. Remember to word it carefully so you only get the crème de la crème of your friend’s junk pile.
  • On the day of the party make some finger foods and drinks. Be hospitable. This also forces you to clean up the clutter in your kitchen that you don’t want all of your stylish friends to actually see. It’s a win/win.
  • In an out-of-the-way spot such as a garage or basement, set up tables marked clearly with our free printable category labels. If you don’t have a garage or basement, display the items on your beds and dressers in the bedroom just like a good old-fashioned Southern bridal tea. Just be sure to delineate between the items to be swapped and your actual everyday stuff!
  • As guests arrive, tell them to unload their items onto the marked tables in an orderly fashion. Note: If you invite a lot guests who bring a lot of stuff, it helps to have a husband an assistant or two for this part. Unloading carloads of stuff from multiple guests arriving at the same time can get a bit hectic.
  • After a little bit of mingling, gossiping and lots of eating and drinking, draw numbers from a hat to see who gets to go “shopping” first. For a fun twist, tell your guests before the party to wrap up one of their best swap items and play a “Dirty Santa” type game while you’re mingling. If you have a group of people who don’t know each other very well, this is a great way to break the ice and create some laughs. People love stealing stuff from others.
  • To avoid mass chaos, guests are allowed to choose one item that they love, then wait until everyone else has one item in hand before raiding the rest.
  • Guests can take home as many or as few items as they’d like. If you have the packrat gene like me, be sure to take home as FEW items as possible. My goal is to keep two items for every ten items that I give away in the swap. May the clutter odds be ever in your favor.
  • Make it clear to guests that any items that don’t get swapped will be picked up by a charity after the party ends. The last thing you need is to have your friend’s discarded clutter sitting in your garage next to all of your existing clutter.
  • Call your favorite charity that offers home pickup service and have them remove everything as soon as possible. Or, if you’re an entrepreneurial type you could hold a yard sale and make a few bucks off of all of your friends’ stuff. Just don’t tell them about it so you won’t have to pay them a commission.

After the Swap is over, you will have a few new-to-you items that will get a chance at a new life, along with a few cleaned out closets. It saves you money and sanity, and helps keep items out of the landfill! Everyone benefits from a successful Swap Party! Plus, it totally counts as a Girls Night Out!

Photo by Lori Gordon via LucysInspired

If you’re like me, it will only take about six months to fill those closets right back up. But, that will give you a good excuse to host another Swap Party. Make it an annual tradition and you’ll be the most popular friend in your little clique. I promise, everyone loves attending these things, but NOBODY will actually host one! My friends and family request them when I don’t plan another one. In fact, it’s about time for me to start planning my next swap party. I’ll get around to it, right after I dig out from under this heaping pile of laundry that is covering the items I picked up at the last Swap Party.

Don’t forget to stop by Unskinny Boppy and show some love! And thanks again to Beth for sharing all about tips for hosting a swap party and taming that clutter!

12 Responses
  1. JustME says:

    What a fun idea as long as you can limit yourself to two back per ten out.

  2. Denise Cosgrove says:

    Beth, a swap party is an annual tradition for my friends and me! I set it up more like an auction, giving guests a $1000 to bid on items. I also li it the. Umber of items to five for a time saver. It doesn’t necessarily get our closets cleaned out, but it is a blast!

  3. Denise Cosgrove says:

    Beth, a swap party is an annual tradition for my friends and me! I set it up more like an auction, giving guests a $1000 to bid on items. I also limit the number of items to five for a time saver. It doesn’t necessarily get our closets cleaned out, but it is a blast!

  4. Courtney says:

    What a great idea!! I need to clean out my basement and now you have my wheels turning.

  5. Heather says:

    Looks like fun!

  6. Vanessa says:

    Every year I think of throwing something like this and every year I get fed up with the piles of collected things and eventually just donate them. Ugh, maybe this is the year!

  7. Laura Beth says:

    I love this idea! I am currently in the middle of a massive clean out…and would love to swap out with friends!

  8. Mindi says:

    Hi all. Great post! When reading, you mentioned, “… set up tables marked clearly with our free printable category labels”. I was wondering where I would find those labels?

  9. Teetee says:

    You are so right, everyone will always attend, but NOBODY else will host one! I thought it was just me! My friends are constantly asking when I’m hosting the next one. It’s a fantastic was to share and shop guilt-free. There are many possible themes. My fave is Accessories and Beauty Items.

  10. Haidee says:

    Tomorrow is the big day!

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