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Have a Swap Party, Get Free Stuff

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In these tough economic times, everyone wants to save a few bucks. We all know the routine: shop at the farmers’ markets or Produce Junction or Amelia’s Grocery Outlet. You can also find lots of hidden treasures at flea markets or even buy, sell, and swap items there (I made $50 the other day!).

Don’t get me wrong; I could spend all weekend in Philly neighborhoods shopping at all the fabulous boutiques, but sometimes that can be a bit pricey. Shaving away at the wad of cash you shell out for new stuff can come in the form of online discounts, coupons or my new favorite trend: hosting a swap party!

Picture it: a Sunday afternoon, some cheap eats, a little vodka and all you need are your friends and their stuff. Then you “swap” all of the stuff and you end up with new clothes and items for free.

This is how to begin. Set aside what you’d like to get rid of. For example gently used clothes, house wares, movies and books; unused bath and spa items, unused makeup- really anything that you don’t want anymore, can’t re-gift, and can’t sell to make enough money to make it worth your while. Also, there is the added bonus of going green and helping the environment by using what other people no longer want.

Ok, so back to planning the party. Start with easy munchies, fruit, veggies and dip. Have everyone bring a little something to chew on. Anything that is easy to handle while you are walking around the room. I personally love mini-weenies! Now for a beverage, try creating a cocktail or two (you know the saying: “It’s five o’clock somewhere,” right? Yep, I said it.) How about the Swaptini (Copyright, Christine Tarlecki!)? One part espresso liqueur, one part vanilla vodka, and a dash of cinnamon schnapps liqueur. Shake with ice and serve very cold. You’ll need the caffeine once you see items you (and your friends) want.

Now it’s party time! Have everyone bring their items over to your house, set up the snacks and drinks, and let the fun begin. Each person sets up their items at a designated spot in the room, possibly in the front of the room, on a few chairs, or on a table. Once all the items are out, everyone can take a look and grab what they want. For my party, we all occasionally discussed where stuff came from or what we could use it for. We had about eight girls, so it wasn’t as if we were all diving in and knocking each other out of the way.

After the swap party I attended with my friends, I ended up with some new house wares, including silver cups for the bar, some new books, and basically an entirely new wardrobe which includes- several dresses, skirts, shirts, and even some costume items. We had books and makeup, sheets, jewelry, and electronics. Everyone went home happy with new stuff!  Here’s a little tip: remember to bring (cloth) bags to take everything home in.

In fact, I wore a new “swap” outfit over the weekend and got a lot of compliments on my new skirt and shirt. Yep, it was free! And I felt pretty!

So pulling this together isn’t difficult. You just need a space, some food, items, and some ingenuity.

Whether you want to check out your local flea markets or plan a Swap Party to get some new stuff, just think either way you’re saving money and getting something in return!  (Check out the photo album on the upper right hand side.)

Upcoming Flea Markets in Philly:

Sat, Sept. 12th 22nd & Fairmount

Sat, Sept. 26th 3rd & Pine

Sat, Oct. 10th 10th & South

Sat, Oct. 17th 4th & Washington

Sat, Oct. 24th 22nd & Chestnut

For more info check out: www.PhilaFleaMarkets.org

You can contact Christine Tarlecki at engchik@comcast.net or http://engchik.blogspot.com/.