I’m ashamed to admit that I face a challenging situation in life that I can never seem to conquer no matter how hard I try. Want to know my dirty secret?
I am a packrat.
There, I said it.
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 is never completely put away. It piles up in my garage, my pantry, my laundry, my bathrooms and my kitchen without end. Although I am an admitted packrat, clutter makes me feel anxious and stressed, so every year I force an intervention upon myself and clean out some of the chaos to donate to charity. Not only does this relieve some anxiety but it also helps to keep my emotional attachment for my stuff in check. Does it pain me to part with all the paraphernalia? Sometimes, but mostly it’s a relief to clean out the closets and be able to breathe again. It’s also 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 therapeutic, sometimes I discover that my inner accumulator is not able to easily 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 friends 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 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 mostly 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 invites. I happen to have some snazzy free printable invitations for you to download at the end of this post.
- 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 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 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 and merriment, 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 that don’t know each other very well, this is a great way to break the ice and create some laughs. People love stealing gifts 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. This keeps the clutter odds 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!
If you’re like me, it will only take about a year 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 group. Everyone loves these things! My friends and family request them when I don’t plan another one. In fact, it’s about time for me to host another one. Thankfully I already have some invitations available.
To download your FREE printable Swap Party invitations and table category labels, click on the links here:
FOLK Free Printable Invitation for a swap party
FOLK Free Printable for a swap party labels 1
FOLK Free Printable for a swap party labels 2
FOLK Free Printable for a swap party labels 3
FOLK Free Printable for a swap party labels blank
Print on the “landscape” setting on standard 8 1/2 x 11 paper or cardstock, then cut and hand write party information according to your needs.
Enjoy, and have a great Swap Party.