Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Host a Jewelry Swap & Make The World a Better Place

Ok, so the title might be a little exaggerated, but when you can trade jewelry and accessories while getting to know new people and then donate the extra items to a worthy cause, I do believe that you've made the world a little bit brighter!

My mom built me an amazing jewelry armoire several years ago and I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I had filled. it. up. I buy cheap jewelry and over the years - lots of it. I wanted to pare down my collection and while we donate a lot of unwanted items to thrift stores, it felt strange to drop off a bag of small, easy-to-lose jewelry among other donations for some reason. I didn't want it to get mixed up in everything else we donate and I wanted to get creative with it.

And then it hit me - host a jewelry and accessory swap! I could get new-t0-me items while getting rid of items I had grown tired of!

Here's how it works:
  • Assemble a varied group of friends and encourage them to bring a friend - the more people with different styles, the better variety of jewelry you will have!
  • Have your guests bring any items in good condition they no longer want. You can set whatever parameters on what to bring - you could even include clothes, but my focus here was jewelry and accessories.
  • Let everyone know to count the items they bring. They are able to take home as many items as they contributed.
  • Find a local women's organization to donate the leftover items to. We chose Magdalene House/Thistle Farms, a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets.
  • Display the items (more on that below!).
  • Split your time into rounds. In round 1, each guest chooses 1 item. Once everyone is finished, announce "round 2" and let everyone choose a 2nd item, and so on. When your guests have reached their total, they stop choosing items while others who brought more items continue choosing.
  • Don't forget snacks! I served winter white sangria, chocolate cookies, and tortilla chips with a black bean guacamole dip (sounds fancier than it is - I blended black beans and mixed them in with some Wholly Guacamole and sour cream).

More details on hosting a jewelry swap below...

You don't have to have a big space for a swap - you just have to get creative! Find fun ways to display the jewelry and accessories. I used platters from my kitchen to display items and borrowed jewelry display items from my friend Val who sells jewelry and handmade items at flea markets and craft shows.

Make sure you have room for your guests to circle around the tables you have displayed the items on. Everyone will circle constantly, assessing what they want to choose next!

I set up a folding table in the living room where the coffee table normally sits (and placed the coffee table in a corner and instructed my guests to place their purses that weren't up for grabs in that corner).

The swap lasted for 2 hours (from 2-4pm on a Sunday afternoon) and happily, most people arrived right on time. As they entered the house, I explained that they could start unpacking their items and placing them around the different areas we had set up.

We attempted to organize different items in different areas. One platter for bracelets, one for rings, etc. Val even brought stands that we could hang purses, belts, long necklaces, and scarves from. We set those up in the archway between the dining room and the living room.

If you have friends who want to come but don't have anything to bring, suggest they bring a snack or a drink to share in order to earn "credit" toward jewelry. I put enough items into the swap to cover myself and a few others, so I knew we wouldn't run out of items.

I love that everyone went home with at least 6 new items and no money was exchanged. We packed up a really big shopping bag of the leftover items and took them to Magdalene House. It was a great afternoon with old friends and new - and hopefully our small contribution to the women of Magdalene will make a difference.

Shannon shows off some of her new accessories! Oh, another note - one guest didn't have jewelry to bring but she is a hairdresser so she brought hair products. Everyone loved being able to choose from those as well!

Have you ever hosted a clothing or jewelry swap? What other tips do you have?

I am inspired to host more swaps - I want to do a housewares/home decor swap and a craft supply swap! You could even do a book swap! There are so many possibilities.

Linking to:
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday
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  1. I LOVE that val repurposes items for her displays! (naked lamp shade & the other brass item) woohoo!
    I love this idea! I sure hope you link this up. You should link to Nifty Thrifty Tuesday for sure! Everyone should see this post!

  2. oh man, i'm so so bummed i missed it! i was at dumb old work. i would be so down for a craft supply swap! and you should see my stash of body care stuff. I get so much stuff from work i will never get a chance to use it. i didn't even think about bringing that kind of stuff!

  3. This is such a cute idea! I'm about to move and have a lot of stuff to get rid of. This is a great way to get rid of some and also get some new items as well :)

  4. Wow, what a great idea! It looks like you had a lot of people come too, that is awesome. I love how you displayed the jewelry, so clever!

  5. I love this idea! So sad I had to miss it. Looking forward to the next one. :)

  6. Clever displays....and a fantastic idea. Will send my daughter over here to take a peek for sure....I bet her and her friends would love to do this.

  7. Love the mug holder for necklaces!

  8. One question I have about a jewelry swap is fairness. What if some people bring high-end stuff and others bring cheap jewelry?

  9. Hi Anon! Fairness never even occurred to me because no one brought anything high-end, or if they did, it was a gift (something they never liked) so they didn't mind it going to a good home. I wouldn't recommend bringing something expensive, or I would set up a separate swap strictly for high-end items and make sure the parameters are clear and in place for what types of items will be accepted. None of my close friends are very high-end shoppers, so it worked out for us. :)