When my friend Sunny wrote about her Swap Party last year I was so inspired. I love the idea of getting all the craft supplies ready waaay before December. I love the idea of sharing with other mamas and having their hard work be part of my kids’ Christmas activities.
In case you aren’t sure what a Swap Party is, here’s the “sitch” (anyone remember Kim Possible?!)—> So, the perfect idea is that 24 women take 1 day of the Truth in the Tinsel crafts and make 24 little bags full of the appropriate craft supplies. Then, when they leave the party, they’ll have 1 little baggie of craft supplies for each day of the 24 days of Truth in the Tinsel.
Sounds amazing, right?
Here’s what I kept wondering, though: what if you had 50 moms sign up for a swap party? That’s not 5o kids doing Truth in the Tinsel. If they each had 2-4 kids, that would be 100-200 crafts that need to be made. So, everyone has to make 100+ crafts?!
Well, if I only have 2 kids, I would have only made 48 crafts at home by myself without the swap. Is it really worth me making 100? That seems like MORE work.
And what if I only had 1 kid and you have 4? I’m making waaay more crafts than I need to. Know what I mean?
So, I tried to think of a way where everyone could just make 24 crafts. So, I did what I do best: I asked around. And after talking to a few of my smartest friends, here’s how I planned and organized our Atlanta Swap Party!
You know these websites, right? If you’re in school or do any kind of team sports, you’ve probably been invited through one of these sites. Basically, the host enters in all the supplies or volunteers needed and you can sign up based on what they need. It’s a really easy and useful idea.
I adapted it for the swap. I had people sign up as “volunteers” for each day of Truth in the Tinsel crafts.
2. I took Pictures.
For each day, I took pictures of what should be in their swap bag. The pictures aren’t awesome. Just a little baggie with the supplies inside.
I uploaded them to my Google Drive (you may be able to upload to Sign Up Genius, etc. but I couldn’t figure it out because contrary to their name Sign Up Genius is NOT genius all the time.) and guests were able to click on the link, see the picture and a description of each craft.
See? It was not fancy at all!
3. I excluded some crafts.
Two of the crafts in Truth in the Tinsel require food. We make salt dough ornaments and the famed applesauce-cinnamon ornament and I just couldn’t imagine a mama having to pour salt and flour and cinnamon into little baggies for 100 people! So, we eliminated those all together. (We did do the census craft–just didn’t include the rice!)
I just let the guests know they are on their own for those days!
4. I Limited the Invites
Next, I decided how many people could come to the party. Sounds mean, right? Well, I was willing to let as many as wanted, I just wanted them to sign up slowly, in batches of 22.
On Sign Up Genius, I only allowed for 2 slots to be open for each craft. Basically, only 44 people could sign up. But, it’s actually a little more complicated than that because…
5. We Signed Up PER Kid
Everyone had to sign up for how many kids they have. For example, if you have 4 kids you’re going to do Truth in the Tinsel with, you had to sign up for 4 slots. So, a mama of four kids makes 88 crafts–just like she would have at home without the swap party. A mama of one makes 22, just like she would have without the swap party.
The only problem with this is that some people had to make 2 separate crafts. I had to do 22 census crafts and 22 CD crafts. It certainly would have been easier if I’d done 44 of one of them.
6. I Opened It Up Slowly
As the slots got full, I opened up more so more people could attend. You’ll have to watch to see how your invites are coming along!
Now, a few problems that are still a little unresolved…
What if you don’t get an even amount of people signed up? We had 30+ people attend the event with over 80 kids and somehow not one person signed up for the Day 3 craft. So, I had to make all 80 of those myself. I’m not sure how you could remedy this–maybe have some helpful older mamas with no kids at home who are willing to fill in the blanks?
What if someone doesn’t show up? I was very clear in the invite and sign-up that you are committing to getting your crafts there even if something happens and you can’t be there. I had 3 mamas send crafts who lived too far away to come to the party!
And a few tips…
I’m actually not sure if this was the best way to plan this party. But because I invited people from the internet (!), folks from my church, my kids’ school and my mom’s church, I had to do it in a way that would allow for 20 people to come or up to 200!
However, if you knew you only had 12 mamas coming who had 36 kids, I might just have all of them choose 2 days and make 36 of each day. You’ll have to decide what’s easiest for the group you have.
Originally, I was going to have everyone sign up and just tell me how many kids they had. Then I’d email them and tell them what craft and how many. That would require a definite sign-up-by-date and lots of work on the back end. Sign Up Genius (or even an editable Google Doc) would eliminate a lot of that hassle and allow people to sign up even days before the event.
If I do this next year (I’m 90% sure I will!), I would do a lot more inviting on the front end. I’d approach some small groups from our church early in September and ask them to get some people together and come as a group. I’d ask some of my key friends to invite some of their mama friends or small groups from church, etc. I think it would work so well as a group party–you know, where several different groups of friends come together for a Girl’s Night Out!
I did ask for a donation of $10 for the event because I had it catered and I had some fun swag but you certainly don’t have to do that. It could be a fun potluck among friends. Or if you are in leadership at your church/children’s ministry, you could throw the swap as a gift to your families.
Don’t forget to tell everyone they need to buy the ebook! Eek! I assumed most of the guests were TNT alums, but in fact many of them were newbies and had to buy the book!
If you’re going to do a swap, make sure you feel out exactly how many people will be there first. That will give you a handle on how you should plan. Ask yourself: do I want everyone to only make 24 crafts? Or am I ok with everyone making 50-100 crafts? Do I want this to be an intimate party of friends? Or do I want a big event for my whole church/school/group?
Once you know what you want it to feel like, then you’ll be able to plan it easily. Any way you do it will be such a blessing to those that come. At the end of our Atlanta Swap Party, everyone said, “Thank you! I feel so much better about December! I don’t have to do anything but do the crafts with the kids!” I felt the same way! My little Truth in the Tinsel bag is all packed and I’m ready for December 1!
Have you ever planned a swap? Have any tips or ideas? Questions? Leave a comment so we can all learn from each other!