In a swap, fairness is at the heart of the whole process. That means that swappers should leave with goods that are of roughly equal value to the ones they submitted for barter. To ensure a fair exchange, it's important to assess the value of the goods submitted and rate them accordingly. Some swaps use a democratic approach where all the items are considered of equal value, like in a book exchange. Your rules may specify bundled items of roughly equal value to ensure that everyone gets a fair deal. This makes swapping a really simple process, but it may not be flexible enough to accommodate all the items guests want to bring.
Another approach is to assign tickets or pennies based on the value of an item. Here's how it works: A guest arrives with an item to swap. You or a helper suggests the item is worth about two pennies (or tickets) on a scale of one to five. You exchange the goods for the pennies and place the item on the two penny table. Now the guest can choose another two penny item, or if she brought two items and has four pennies to play with, can spend them at the four penny table. This requires a good eye for value and some diplomacy. Folks are usually pretty honest about what they have to exchange, though. Waiting until a few guests have arrived to establish a baseline valuation for say, a roll of ribbon as opposed to a fully illustrated book, will get you started.
To avoid disappointing anyone, it's also a good idea to get all the items organized and on display before opening the swap. That way all the participants will have an equal opportunity to claim the most appealing merchandise. While guests are waiting, make general introductions and go over the rules. This might also be a nice time to offer coffee and other beverages.
At the end of the swap, there may be supplies leftover that no one needs this time around. Guests can take them back home with them, or you can suggest they donate them to a local guild, retirement community, school or charity.
Craft supply swapping can be addictive. That leftover fabric, ribbon or cording may seem like a "been there, done that" proposition to you, but to someone else, those items could be the inspiration for a new project or the perfect way to finish an old one. Isn't crafting great? You may have so much fun and score so many wonderful finds that you'll want to make supply swapping a regular event. What an inspired way to stay in touch with old and new friends.
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