How to Host a Fun and Fancy Craft Swap

comments (0) August 4th, 2008     

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Jen_W Jennifer Worick, contributor
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Consider grouping materials by color, like these pink and rose-hued yarns.
Sort smaller materials in boxes.
Consider grouping materials by color, like these pink and rose-hued yarns.

Consider grouping materials by color, like these pink and rose-hued yarns.

Photo: Jennifer Worick

Craft swapping is all the rage online, with crafters exchanging materials, tools, and even finished creations via forums, blogs, and websites. But how about doing things up old-school and hosting a craft swap in your home with your nearest and dearest craftanistas?

Hosting a craft swap is like any party in many ways—you want the right mix of people, great food and drink, mood music, proper lighting, etc. But there are a few tips that will ensure that your crafternoon will be long remembered by your guests, and in a good way.

Have a Plan

Create an invite list. Don’t just invite your best friends; only ask crafters who you know will contribute and get into the spirit of the event. Invite non-crafty pals to a clothing swap at another time.

Give guests some guidelines. A guest shouldn’t be allowed to fill up her bag when she’s only thrown one sad skein of yarn into the mix. Either count the number of items and allow guests to take as much as they’ve contributed, or put a price value on their goodies. If someone brings a high-end pair of Tronex wire cutters to the swap (which retail for $55), let them take away materials equal in value. It goes without saying that swap items should be in good condition and usable; a botched project doesn’t qualify.

Setting Up Shop
Create stations around your home. If your friends all enjoy the same craft, set up areas for “Materials,” “Tools,” “Reference (books and DVDs),” and “Works of Art (finished items).” For an omni-crafter crowd, you can set up the same sort of stations, or group items by craft: “Quilting/Sewing,” “Yarnplay,” “Embroidery,” “Jewelry,” and “Paper Crafts.” For a fun change of pace, organize materials by color.

Once stations are set up, consider the setting. If the swap is scheduled during daylight hours, place materials near natural light. If it’s dark in your home, make sure you have strong lighting so crafters can see colors accurately. Space out stations so your party has flow and guests are not log-jammed in one area. If you have the room, place different stations in different rooms (materials in the living room, reference in the bedroom, tools in the kitchen, etc.).

Get the Party Started
Hand guests a bag when they arrive (you could even give them a reusable shopping bag as a party favor). Direct them to the different stations so they can add their contributions. Instruct guests that items are first-come, first-served. If they want to negotiate with each other after their bags are filled, that’s up to them. Then let them hunt and gather to their heart’s content.

When the frenzy dies down, show off your swap swag, congratulate each other, and celebrate with a few snacklets and beverages (consider mixing up a fun crafter’s cocktail for the day). If there’s time, turn the swap into a real crafternoon and start a project with your swap booty.

Send guests home with a fun party favor, like a sheep-shaped tape measure or color wheel.

posted in: parties, swap

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