Sunday, March 27, 2011

To Swap or not to Swap- that is the question!

    I hosted my first swap ever at Kims Moulin Rouge event. I was so taken with a similar swap the Kims Les Sirenes event I know I just had to copy it! The swap was to get a vintage jewelry box, decorate it, if you want, and fill it will goodies, and or supplies for creating art.
        Now swaps can be quite stressful. Especially when it is one on one. You make something for someone and you have one person to please. Now with that said we all have our own likes, dislikes styles etc. so it can be very scary to see if what you created matches up with your "swapees" expectations.  Sadly it seems there is always a few swaps that don't align right, and that's where you feel the pressure as the hostess. You want everyone to be happy and thrilled with their swap. When someone is disappointed, you feel it as the hostess.
       As the attendee of the swap you don't want to feel like you "didn't get it." I know there was one sweet lady who felt exactly that. She didn't want to give her box up because she felt it was inadequate after seeing all of the other boxes. The second I saw her sort of breakdown my heart just sank... how can I fix this, a swap should make you cry tears of joy, not sorrow??? Just at that moment, Kim rushes up to this sweet lady and gives her a big hug and tell her it was going to be okay. This is a supportive environment and I felt so relieved that Kim saw her and did just the right thing.  And then we saw her box! It was very cute, certainly nothing to be embarrassed about and filled with very nice items.
                Swaps can be amazing and exhilarating, but there is sometimes disappointment that can come from any side of the swap. With that said, I want to share some of my wisdom that I have learned about swaps and hopefully will refer back to this post whenever I go to a swap filled event myself. So here are my tips for swapping! They are brutally honest and this list is MY opinion, it is in no way complete, I am sure a lot of you will have some .02 cents to say too so please feel free to leave comments.

#1- Swaps are not cheap!- Be prepared to spend money. I have spent over $100  on supplies for swaps I have done. They are not free. Even my Bijoux box swap...I pulled a lot of goodies from my own personal stash, but I also bought the box, the paint, ordered vintage papers off the Internet etc. Think about the cost. I did a charm swap and you think "oh a few bucks a charm...well if the charms were $5 x15 - now you are in $75 already and you haven't bought the bracelet, ordered the moo cards, mailed them ect. so THINK before you swap about the cost!
#2- Don't overwhelm yourself. Many of you work full time, have kids, or are running mini (and big) crafting empires. You can't do every swap. I would rather do one or two GREAT swaps, then do 6 or 7 and short change a swap or two because I ran out of time. Especially if you have to make multiples of things.
#3- Ask questions! Ask your hostess questions about your idea and if you think it will work if you are not sure. The hostess usually has a good barometer of what the swap "should" look like. But don't rely too heavily on the hostess to make decisions, use them as a guide.
#4- Personalize- If you are making something for someone else try to personalize it as much as possible to them, but also add a little of your own style in. I can tell you the swaps that are most touching are those that are personal, when the person took some time to know who you are. If the swap is not secret send an email or two (not one everyday!LOL!) with questions you may have for them.  If the swap is secret stalk their blog or FB pages and see who they are, or just ask the hostess to get more info for you.
#5- Make it something you don't want to give away. This is my final and best piece of advice I can give anyone. If you have made something you truly love, it is probably going to be hard for someone not to love it too, and even if it wasn't what they were expecting, you can not mistake heart and soul being put into it.

SO a bad swap item would look like this:
Made from craft room left overs, looks like someone threw it together in two minutes, totally impersonal to you and the person who made it, and will go straight to the recycle bin or get re-purposed

Now a GREAT swap item LOOKS like THIS!!!
This is the box I received from Danielle Muller. Danielle's style is creamy and vintage, hey so is mine!

I am primarily a papercrafter and she had lots of paper ephemera for me

I also love baby blue and saw lots of little baby blues in here

more goodies

supplies! I love the colors she chose for me.

hey whats that? A D stamp..for Danielle and Denise! Hmm how personal!

seam binding, a vintage lovers ribbon!

I also love a little bling- look at this vintage belt buckle!

Danielle's blog is the Vintage Dragonfly, so this is what I am talking about personalizing it, something that makes me think of the person who created it for me.

another special piece. 


it had writing in it from the owner I love that

and this great vintage image.

  So you can see, Danielle used a mix of new and old, she thought about me and my likes, she added her own personal touches, she put some items of great value in there, probably some things she did not want to part with. Make sense now?

The really difficult thing about swaps is you will never really know if someone does not like your creation. No one is that insensitive to call anyone out, nor should they. Gifts should always be accepted with gratitude. So I am putting this out there as my own General Guidelines.  I am not directing this towards anyone person, it is from my own personal experiences and those of the people I have talked to about swaps in general, trust me we have ALL talked about swaps, I am just laying it down!

So if you think this post is about "you" it isn't. I have appreciated every swap I have ever received and display them all proudly in my home. 

For me swaps are one of the most exciting parts of any event. At 41 years old they are the closest I get to that "Christmas Morning" excitement I got as a child.  
I highly recommend participating for that reason and I hope you will too!



  1. GREAT post, Denise!! Swaps can be stressful but are usually SO worth it!! Thanks for hosting!! ♥

  2. Denise,
    ...well said! I, too, get the "giddy" joy from swaps, which is why I choose the participate in them. Yes, I am getting a little more "choosy" as to which swaps I will join, but, overall, I adore and treasure all the swaps I have been fortunate to receive!

  3. Denise, thank you for posting this AND for hosting the bijoux box swap. It was fun to decorate the vintage jewelry boxes and to fill with vintage goodness. I also loved my deco black box that I received and the goodies inside! See ya at the next event!

  4. Love this post Denise, thank you! Now I want to participate in a swap....

  5. I couldn't agree with you more!! I'm also not surprised that Danielle presented you with such fabulous stuff!!

    I just saw your Moulin pix too! What a blast!


  6. Great post, Denise! As the lucky recipient of your wonderful and unique bijoux box, I can attest to how special a swap can be! To preserve it in all its glory, I shipped your glass-paneled box home to VA after the event, and am so happy that it's just arrived intact. Now I can share photos. Thanks again for sharing with me your wonderfully creative and generous spirit!! Hugs, Pam

  7. denise...i came across this post just now! thanks so much for all the sweet things you wrote! this box was a pleasure to make for you! xoxo

  8. Your absolutely right! I was a receiver of a bad swap and these guidelines are perfect!! I am hosting for Tiffany's affaire and I am going to link the ladies to this post. Right on Denise!