Getting together with family and friends to share baked goods like cookies, brownies, cupcakes and turnovers—anything that can be easily divided and distributed—has become a fun and trendy way to share and to socialize. And everyone goes home with a variety of homemade desserts! But what’s fun can also be practical if you start to think outside the cookie jar, and apply the same principles to a variety of household items. Here’s a list of popular swap items to get you started:
1. Books. If the library can do it, so can you. Bring a stack of books to your next exchange party, whether your favorites, or a particular volume that you know someone is interested in. Depending on your circle of readers, choose a theme such as mysteries, romances, travelogues or biographies.
2. Small, seldom-used appliances. We’ve all been there: you can’t wait to grind your own spices, and you do it enthusiastically—for a few weeks—then the spice grinder goes into the closet, pushed further and further back, until you forget that you ever bought it. Other “impulse/hobby” appliances include the bread machine, deep fryer, food dehydrator, waffle iron, pressure cooker, and ice cream maker. It’s up to you if you want to trade for good, or keep exchanging items until everyone has had a chance to try them out and see how often they actually use it before they commit to buying.
3. DVDs and CDs. Some people have huge movie and music collections. Swapping gives you a great opportunity to watch that movie that you missed in the theater. Even if your collection is small, and consists only of your favorites, you probably don’t watch them more than twice a year. The same goes for music. I keep 5 of my favorite CDs in the car, but I must have 55 that are gathering dust in the house.
4. Toys. Don’t yank Raggedy Ann from your sleeping child’s arms, but most kids have toys that they’ve lost interest in, and no longer play with. Your neighbor’s kids, or your nieces and nephews would love to borrow them, making this a win/win for all concerned. The kids get to play with “new” toys, and you get to take a shower because your children aren’t complaining that they have nothing to do.
5. Other items to consider: Board games, clothes, ice bucket, punch bowl and other party items (unless you’re Jay Gatsby and use them every weekend), Halloween costumes, duplicate tools and gardening equipment.
How to keep track of your stuff? (You can already hear your brother: “Waffle iron? What waffle iron?”) Label everything with the owner’s name and keep a log. Just make 3 columns in a notebook with the headings: Item, Owner, Borrower. And don’t forget to write down the date. Then every month, you can look forward to another “exchange.”
Do you have any tips for organizing a neighborhood swap?
SJ Wilson has been writing novels for many years, including the recently published, The Soul of Fenway. She loves spending time with her family, especially at the beach. Her hobbies include genealogy, photography, American history, and baseball.