This portion contributed graciously by ©Jessica Miller
~ I keep a folder in my mail devoted to just the particular swap I am
~ When you get signups, email them to confirm and request their shipping
~ I create a Word document with their name and address in separate columns on
a table. This makes it very easy to mail merge the names and addresses
later. I also add a column for Group (if there is more than one
group participating), Paid, Questionnaire, Item, Received. This
document will end up veeeerrry important with all the swap info on it.
- Keep in good contact with the participants. This does not
require daily emails, but once a week would be nice, just to keep in
Be firm on your shipping dates, but be very clear about that up
front. Also, be clear and firm about the money. Do not ship
anyone's boxes without full payment due. Not trying to be mean
about this, but you really don't want to get caught with out payments.
The costs could really add up.
When the boxes start to come in, let the swappee know when the box
arrives. Be sure to count up the number of items. If there is a
discrepancy in what was sent, let her/him know right
away. Give thanks for any hostess gifts you may
- You may be lucky and get to re-use some of the incoming boxes for shipping
back out. If not, a good place to get your supplies is www.usps.com .
The USPost Office will send you the Priority Mail supplies for free.
Keep in mind that this will require you to ship Priority, which is a good way
to go, but more expensive.
- You can prepare your shipping labels as soon as you get all the
addresses. I like to use a mail merge in Word to do this.
The questionnaire needs to be sent fairly early in the swap process, just
so you can be sure to get them all back in time to assemble the
book. Use your own discretion when asking questions, but the basics
are usually name, company name (if they have one), email address, website (if
applicable), the name of the swap item, and the recipe.
Lots of times the other questions go along with the "theme" of the swap, if
there is one. Have fun with this part. The swap booklet is a
favorite and loved part of the swap.
The book itself is assembled from the completed questionnaires. I use
MS Word to create the booklet, and either print it at home or take it to be
printed at OfficeMax or somewhere similar. This totally depends on
the size of the swap, but I find it much, much easier to be printed
elsewhere. The cost can get surprisingly high this way, so watch the
number of pages you end up with. The cover can be a folder/ binder,
paper, laminated; whatever would look nice and be long lasting.
Get all your outgoing boxes marked with the recipient's name. To
fill up the boxes, I like to have them all out in a big area, with the swap
items (still grouped by sender) in one place. I pick up one of
the groups of swap items, and carefully put one in each recipient's
box. Be sure not to give the original sender back one of their own
items! If everything is done right, you will come out with no
leftovers. :) Don't forget the swap book!
- Pack very carefully so that no one's hard work gets damaged after you ship
- Seal up the boxes and ship out; keeping good records of tracking numbers
if available. Let everyone know when the items have shipped.
I like to email everyone their tracking number, if
applicable. Once everyone has received their box, encourage
the participants to post their comments to the list. That way
everyone can enjoy the swap, even if they weren't part of the swap
Have fun! A lot of hard work goes into hosting a swap.
Helpful Tips and Pointers
Contributed graciously by ©Denise Washburn
Tips and Pointers:
- I keep different legal tablets at the computer...one for each group
in my swap.
- As the folks sign up, put them into a group, you can always move
them around later. Don't be afraid to giggle the groups around until you
get it just right.
- I did everything in pencil and make sure you have a big eraser! LOL
You're going to need it!
- Keep hard copies of everything; don't save all your swap info on the
computer, it just might *eat* it! :)
- Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
- Be prompt in returning folks emails and answering their questions.
Let them know when their package arrives and when you receive their
- Be prepared for drop-outs and no-shows. I had three folks on 'stand
by' to fill in at a minutes notice if necessary. Also, be prepared for
- Don't be afraid to let everyone know you have a time-table and that you
intend to stick to it. I was on another list's swap and waited four
months after the expected delivery date for the swap box because the hostess
kept waiting on all the stragglers!
- HAVE FUN!