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How To Host A “Trash Into Treasure Party”

I don’t know about you, but I am terrible at getting rid of clothes, purses, shoes, belts, jewelry etc. that I NEVER wear anymore!  I don’t know what it is…I just have a really difficult time making the hard decisions! But once in awhile I will FORCE myself to make them and then it seems like getting them to my local “donation station” is another huge hurdle that I can’t seem to quite get over. I’m certain there are some deep-seated psychological issues involved here, but we won’t go into that.

Instead, I’m going to share with you an idea I recently came across called a Swap Party and I think it may be JUST THE THING I need to get past these issues I have. It basically involves taking the above scenario and turning it into a PARTY!  I’ve chosen to call it a “Trash Into Treasure Party” because I know that’s one of the things I love about our local thrift store. The things that someone deemed as trash I consider treasures!

Here’s how to throw a cheap, easy and FUN “Trash Into Treasure Party”:

trash into treasure

Gather up your “trash”.

Start with your closet. I know this is the “pot calling the kettle black” but you can do it! Be ruthless! Those “incentive jeans” you bought that have been sitting in your closet for 2 years now…waiting for you to lose those 10 pounds….toss them in a bag or box. But don’t stop at your closet! Now head to the kitchen, the TV room, the garage, the basement. You know there is lots of “trash” there too.

trash into treasure

Invite your like-minded friends.

You know who they are. The ones who like to frequent garage sales and thrift stores as much as you do. Or maybe it’s people in your life who you know are in the same predicament as you…too much stuff….too little time (or inclination) to get rid of it.

Don’t bother with paper invites that require postage…save yourself time, effort, and cash and make a Facebook event or send an evite. Make it easy on yourself.

trash into treasure

Decide on a venue.

Don’t worry about making a reservation or a down payment…just make sure your living room (or garage, or basement, etc) is large enough for all the participants to set up their “store”. Designating a “dressing room” and setting up a full-length mirror are other helpful options…but definitely not necessary.

trash into treasure 6

Decide on a swapping protocol.

This is actually a crucial step. Without some rules to govern the swapping process you could have anarchy on your hands! There are a number of ways you could handle this…but I think the simplest way is to do it “kindergarten style” and take turns. Draw straws (or pick numbers from a hat) to determine the order, then let one person at a time choose an item. Once you’ve gone through everyone once, start over until everything is spoken for….or you’re all ready to call it a night.

trash into treasure

Don’t forget the snacks!

Even if you don’t find one new “treasure” (which is highly unlikely!) at least you won’t have wasted your time if there are yummy things to nosh on. Don’t skip this step. It IS a party after all!

And with any luck you will walk away with some great new finds and some good memories!

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Bright Ideas

  • […] for a book swap party, I thought that sounded terrific! It’s basically the same idea as this “Trash Into Treasure Party” I posted about a couple of months ago, but with BOOKS instead of clothes and accessories. […]

  • So fun!!! We do this 6-8 times a year at my church, and we invite others to join as well. It’s called “All Things Common” (reference to Acts 2:45) and anything in decent shape is fair game. Anything left at the end is taken to a local women’s charity.

    And of course there’s food. We’re Baptists. ;)

  • I am an independent consultant for All’asta. All’asta is the Italian word for auction. The concept is very similar but the spin is that all of the items brought to the party are set up with a silent auction bid sheet with a starting price and everyone bids on the items they are interested in. Its really fun because often there are friendly “bidding wars” and so you could have asked $5 for an item and as people try to outbid each other it gets bid up to a higher amount giving you more money to either keep or spend on other stuff.

  • I love swap parties. I have done many over the years. The last one I coordinated was for our church women’s ministry. We had a fashion show from a local consignment shop, clothing swap, and food. It was GREAT.

  • Recently did this with childrens items. Had a bunch of girlfriends over, and we swapped toys and clothes for our kids. Was a raving success, we outfitted about 6 kids for the winter. The key was making sure I invited moms who “matched” with another mom, that way we knew everyone got to take stuff home.

  • My daughter and her friends had a swap party as a fundraiser in Ottawa, Ontario
    The items that were left over were brought to Value Village the Diabetic Association. and the money raised went for the Sears run for kids cancer research.
    It was a win win all around.

  • As a teacher we would do this with some of our classroom games/old units in the library from time to time. It is amazing how another teacher would utilize the materials in a completely different way.

  • We do these swap events at my kids’ school for books and clothes. We hold it at a nearby public park so that neighbors can join in as well. It is better than the “flea market” events, that you have t price tag everything and bargain for cents and pennies. Kids pick whatever they want to give away from swap and pick whatever they would like. It’ is also incentive for them to give up some of their stuff for donation, regardless of the $$$ they can get in return. They know they might not get back anything in return.

  • That sounds like fun! I used to run a Facebook yard sale page so I could get rid of items in my house the Fb page had a lot of computer glitches and it was hard to find items. Then I found VarageSale they are all over the world! We have a Swap night 2 nights a week. Each swap I have been making from $50 to $90 selling old books, clothes, pans and cookware. So we list the items on the page it’s very organized everything is in a category. Then if you like something you say interested will you be at the swap on Thursday and they say yes and you are all set. We have over 1500 members50 women meet each swap we are all cleaning out our houses and saving money buying used items. In less than 30 minutes I met 6 people and made $91 all small items from around the house! I feel my house is getting lighter every week! It’s lots of fun meeting everyone and I LOVE window shopping on the page, it’s just fun to see what everyone is listing :)

  • These parties are so much fun! I did one with some girlfriends about a year ago and we were just talking about doing another one!

    For me, I can’t get rid of things if “there’s nothing wrong with it.” It doesn’t matter if I haven’t worn it in 2 years. So I challenged myself to wear everything in my closet. If I didn’t want to wear it, or hated it after making myself wear it, it goes! All my progress and “rules” are here on my blog! I’d love if you checked it out! http://www.envirocraftiness.com/search/label/wearyourwardrobe

  • We have tried a similar tradition based on a Mathrom (which is a term coined by Tolkien in The Hobbit). Good items are given to others on our birthdays. So this year at my big 50th bash everyone will go home with one gently used but either useful or beautiful item from my home….LOL

  • Coincidentally, my best friend and I recently did major closet clean outs and I brought up the idea of holding one of these events. I have tried consigning items as well in a local thrift shore, which has been ok and better than nothing, but now the owner has gone to giving store credit only for taking stuff versus consigning. Not as worthwhile for me. While I’m all for giving unwanted items to charity- I also invested a lot of money in this stuff to being with and have a hard time just shipping it off to someone else to make money on. So I see one of these parties happening in the future. I got stuck on the issue of ground rules- how to make it fair. Turns work, and I’m thinking the ticket thing might be a good idea too.

    As another reader mentioned- call Goodwill or the SA and arrange a pick up for the morning after the event, have them come & pick up the leftovers and be done with it all!

    I especially think this would be a GREAT idea for people with children- trade out the old toys for new, clothes that don’t fit, etc.

    • Not sure about in other areas, but I have lived in different parts of the country and know for a fact that in those areas, the Salvation Army will not pick up. You have to drop it off at their Sally Stores. Neither will Goodwill pick up.
      The only charity thrift stores we found that will pick up are the Disabled Veterans Thrift Stores and in Miami, the Breast Cancer Foundation has a thrift shop that will pick up at your house. Maybe there are more of them around the country.

  • I had one of these many years ago. I had the “sale” set up in the basement, we drew straws for the “shopping” order and visited while the shopper was busy. Anything left I took to Goodwill. Great fun and great way to recycle. Thanks for the memory!

  • My local diabetes charity collects clothes and small household items right from my house! They call ahead and let me know the collection date every month and all I have to do is let them know if I want pick up or not. Maybe something similar is available in your area! A party sounds more fun but if you aren’t up to holding one and neither are any of your friends, then it’s a good way to give away stuff and help out a charity at the same time. They sell the stuff to a huge chain of thrift stores and make money that way.

  • I’m pretty sure that if you call them, that Salvation Army will show up at your house with a big truck and load all your donations and take it away for you. Hence saving you the hassle of trying to load it up yourself. It’s a good idea for after a swap party as well…donating the leftovers.

    • Not sure about in other areas, but I have lived in different parts of the country and know for a fact that in those areas, the Salvation Army will not pick up. You have to drop it off at their Sally Stores. Neither will Goodwill pick up.
      The only charity thrift stores we found that will pick up are the Disabled Veterans Thrift Stores and in Miami, the Breast Cancer Foundation has a thrift shop that will pick up at your house. Maybe there are more of them around the country.

  • I went to one of these about four years ago. Tons of fun!!! It was all moms participating, so there was all sorts of stuff to be swapped. I want to say that the mom in charge gave us all tickets for the items we brought that we could use to “purchase” items that others brought. That way it was a bit more fair. I think that if it’s among like minded friends that ground rules can vary. Taking turns is probably best. Maybe let everyone browse beforehand to see what’s available. I need to have one of these at our storage unit. Ha!

  • oh no you mean all those bags my hsb dropped off at the disabled veterans thrift store could have been a party ?? Seriously this sounds like fun but we have the rule that for every item that enters this home a like minded one has to go and since the initial bags and bags got moved out of here we have maintained that. Also, I know myself well enough to know that there would be one impediment after another as the items bagged up. the invitations would have to be perfect or something else would not be quite right until I would be so far under. in other words, I totally admire what you have accomplished.

  • I’ve been having these since 1977. No food. Serve ginger tea. No more than 12 people. No stories about the items. Guys can come as well. Leftovers are either donated to charity or brought back to the next meeting. Early October before Halloween is the best time.

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