Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hosting a Successful Mini Kid Stuff Swap and Potluck

When I was pregnant with Aias, I was the only one I knew (locally) who had a baby, so we bought just about everything new and got what we could from the few consignment stores in the area.   The costs weren't outrageous, but they did add up.

As Aias grew, so did my circle of friends with children.  Consequently, we started getting hand-me downs... it was AMAZING. At this point there's barely anything he wears that didn't once belong to And Mommy Makes 3; we joke that we are excited for when her kids are in middle school so Morgan can get their hand me downs ;) 

The reality is, there are TONS of used baby, kid, and mama items floating around out there in your community.  The items are exactly what you need and can't avoid obtaining and using, but they don't often last super long before they don't fit or aren't relevant anymore.  Suddenly, that item you couldn't imagine living without that you dropped $50 on is suddenly unusable to you; what to do with it then?  You could consign, unless you are like me and you ALWAYS miss the date.  You could sell it on Craigslist.  You could give it away on Freecycle.  You could donate it to a thrift shop.

Or... you could turn it into a party.



This weekend a friend and I hosted our first Baby and Kid Stuff Swap in our building, and I want to share the experience with you so that you can do the same in your community.  

About 6 weeks prior to the event, we sent out an invitation on evite.com (or you can use eventbrite.ca, also free).  Here's what our invitation said:

Fall Kids Stuff Swap and Potluck


Babies and kids outgrow their clothes and toys very quickly.  If you live in an apartment, you know this can get a little overwhelming.   We want to get together, enjoy some food, and do some swapping.  It will be a great chance to pass on books, toys, baby, and kid clothes that we no longer need, but that have plenty of life in them to bring joy to another family!

What to bring?
1. A side dish, snack, or dessert.

and

2. Stuff to swap!
- Toys
- Games
- Books
- Baby and kid clothing, shoes, outdoor gear, etc
- Pregnancy and nursing related items

How will it work?
This is our first one, so we are open to suggestions!  If only a few people show, we can just be casual and let it all happen organically.  How it typically works with a large crowd will be that you will get one "token" for every item you donate.  Once exchanged for tokens, the items are no longer yours.  People will browse the items for a bit and then once the swap opens you can claim one item per "token."  If two or more of you want the same item, we will flip a coin, draw, or rock/paper/scissors for the winner.

At the end of the evening, all unclaimed items will be brought by Monika and Danielle to be donated to the Gordon Neighborhood House Thrift Shop. 

*Using ideas from this site: http://recyclingweek.planetark.org/bas/event_signage.cfm

Rules- No "selling" please; this is about sharing and trading, not about cash exchange.
- Please only bring items that are in clean, usable condition.  No stained or torn items or items missing pieces.

Should we bring the kids?You certainly can, if you want to.  However, you may be able to focus more on the swapping if you leave them behind :)  This is entirely up to you!

If you have a "wish list" of items you need, please feel free to post them on the invitation!  We will send an email out a week or so before to give people an idea of what others are looking for while they go through their kids's things.
Monika and Danielle

 On the day of the event, we went up to the common room space about 45 minutes early.  We set up tables around the perimeter of the room, and printed signs that said:

- newborn
- 0-3 months
- 3-6 months
- 6 to 9 months
- 9 to 12 months
- 12 to 18 months
- 18 to 24 months
- 2T
- 3T
- 4T
- 5T+
- Toys, books, games
- Mama stuff
- Shoes and socks
 - Cloth diapering
-  Baby wearing
-  Nursing supplies

We hung the signs up above the tables.  We also set up an area where people could place their food and drink to share.

As each guest arrived, it was their job to "stock" the tables.  People went around and neatly placed their items on the tables according to the signs.  Most people brought boxes and bags... absolutely tons of stuff.  Because of this, we didn't assign tokens or anything like that.  If people had all shown up with a few items we could probably have gone ahead with tokens.  It was surreal to see our common room turned into a kid's consignment store in about 15 minutes!

Once everyone arrived and set out their items, we sat in a circle and introduced ourselves.  We said our names, how we knew the hosts, how old our children were, and what items we were looking out for.  We also decided that we thought it would be ok if people just shopped around at the same time, informally, and that if there was a debate over an item we'd flip a coin.  We also established where we'd be putting the items we were taking, whether we were putting it in a certain spot in the room or in a certain bag, so that no one would accidentally take the items we'd put aside to take home.

This went off without a hitch; I think we had to do the coin flipping thing only twice the entire time. 

In the end, we were left with a lot of stuff, and all that stuff was picked up by a local women's shelter that we agreed on as a group.  It was amazing!!!  We will definitely be hosting another one in the spring.

SOME FINAL TIPS:

-  Target your invites... your best friends are people who have an older child AND a younger child.  They will bring large things to the swap, but also need small things. Trust me, this makes things very nice.

-  Don't invite too many people; this was 7 people participating and it was almost a full room.

-  Establish the pattern and rules from the beginning so there are no conflicts.

- Send your invites out far in advance, so people will hold onto their items in anticipation of the event.

- In our invitation we said people could bring kids if they had to; when we do it again, I'll say NOT to bring kids (young babies are ok).  There were no kids at this event, just a baby or two.  I think with toddlers or older kids it would have been a gong show. 

Some of the toys

A mama checking out some of the toys

Tons of awesome stuff

Lots of stuff for new mamas

Some of the teeny tiny clothes

Don't worry, this little cutie wasn't being swapped, though I would have snatched him up if he was up for grabs :)

Another happy shopping mama

So many things!

Everything in this picture (and some more) was picked up by a local shelter

 
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