December 1, 2015 by tessaraewilliams
Let’s jump right in with Part 2! This includes all the prep work before the swap even starts.
First, decide on a theme.
Where do you get your swap ideas?
- I have actually only hosted 3 swaps, when I first started my IG stitching account I signed up to CuppaKim’s Mug swap, which I LOVED and cannot wait to join again this year. Such a simple idea for a swap and to get to know people. So then I had an idea to see if any of my friend followers wanted to a cross stitch gift swap. So I organised ‘#LollypopStitchSwap14’ I only had about 25 ladies involved and I loved it. I was so happy to see my new friends taking the time and making gifts for each other, for people that they barely knew. And these ladies were from all across the world. There wasn’t any theme, it was just to make a gift for your partner based on them, their likes etc., what they’re interested in.It turned out well. Then around January I wanted to do a Disney craft swap #LPSDisneyCraftSwap2015 – I had seen one around but I missed it. When I shared the idea I had so much feedback I knew I had to do it. And apparently the previous Disney swap that happened was not successful and so many people didn’t get any packages. This swap was open to all crafters or all natures. There were a few hiccups. A few drop outs, few people kicked out, but overall a hugely successful swap.
Then a friend was suggesting different types of “hoop art” and we brainstormed about doing a “Disney Hoop Art” swap – which is what I’m currently hosting. This is a specific swap for “hoop art/embroidery hoop art”. -@lollypopstitches
- Life, my head, my books and things I see on the internet. Just completely random, I’m like OH HEY that would be an awesome swap and well there I go..lol. I have to plan carefully though or I’d end up running around 10 swaps at once..lol – @soooo_charming
- Just from my general interests. I like doing things that are a little different so I try to think of some different swaps to have fun with. – @nikanne
I’ve hosted three swaps now. The theme for the first two came to me when I thought, “Man, I wish a X-themed swap would pop up!” But instead of waiting for them to come along, I decided I’d just host them myself. The idea for the #finishedblockswap literally came to me in a dream. 🙂
So, you have your idea/theme. Now you have to decide how you want to run it.
- Pick a ship date. In my experience, 3-4 months from opening the swap is the optimal time frame. Anything longer than that gets very shaky, as far as people dropping out or flaking. I’ve participated in and ran swaps shorter than 3 months, and for that I’d encourage a partner swap, not a secret swap (see below). Also, choose your check-in dates. I’ve seen swaps that have monthly check-ins, but I’ve also seen swaps that have just one check-in around the halfway point in the swap. 1 to 3 check-ins isn’t uncommon. This will be up to personal preference, but these dates must be clearly stated for your participants.
- Choose how you will partner participants. There’s basically two ways to do this: partner or secret. In partner swaps, both people know that they are making for each other. Communication between partners is encouraged. In a secret swap, person A makes for person B, who makes for person C, and so on until the last person, who makes for person A. Participants do NOT know who is making for them, they only know who they are making FOR. Direct communication between partners is not encouraged, as you are meant to find out who made for you only once you receive your gift. There are pros and cons for both types of swap.
- My swaps the partners have always been secret – I like the element of not knowing who you will be receiving from! – @lollypopstitches
- I have done both and honestly it really doesn’t matter. You still have to stay on top. I like the partner idea as you can really get to know someone then and make a new friend. Secret Swaps are fun as you can post more pictures of your items without really giving anything away. -@sooo_charming
- Personally, I’m a big lover of the secret swap. I enjoy there being some mystery as to what and who you’re going to receive for. I also feel like it makes people stalk the hashtag more and admire everyone’s work. -@nikanne
Now that I’ve had good and bad experiences in both types of swap, I personally lean toward partner swaps. I think it keeps people more accountable to their partners, whereas in secret swaps flakes can kind of hide and float away with their anonymity. Partner swaps also let you really get to know someone, which I think often leads to a more personalized and meaningful gift.
Now is also the time to find a swap mama, if you’d like. My swap mamas (@piratesbabe and @heatherleanne) have been invaluable in helping me keep things organized and basically helping to keep me sane. Using swap mamas can really cut your workload in half, which is integral if you are running a swap with 50+ people in it. You can find a swap mama by simply putting out a call, asking if anyone would like to help you run a swap. I was a swap mama for @wendiriggens #unicorncraftswap. I had a group of 20-25 people to keep track of. There were also two other mamas plus Wendi. That swap got BIG. Being a swap mama first before hosting your own might be a good way to try it out, and see if you can deal with keeping track of a small group.
Using swap mamas is also the way that you get to participate in your own swap without knowing who your partner is (if you’re hosting a secret swap). Usually I separate people in groups by shipping, meaning one person gets all the domestic shippers, the other gets the international shippers, but do whatever works for you.
- I have run my swaps all by myself. Just so its run how I want it to be run. I am a swap mama for one of ‘Sooo_Charmings’ current swaps. And I am looking after about 25 participants. And I am using my rules from my previous swaps to keep in contact and up to date with them. -@lollypopstitches
- I normally tend to choose people who seem very organized, or people I have dealt/swapped with before. I have only given one person some list of names/addresses to help me with partners. Normally I just give them a list of names and have them take care of that group for me and I just assign partners myself. -@sooo_charming
- I look for reliable swappers who I know to help me mama. I give each mama a small set of swappers for her to look after and match but if anything big happens like drop outs or flakers, I take over again. -@nikanne
Next week, we’ll talk about the final stages of prep work as your swap begins. This includes opening swap sign-ups, collecting participants’ info, and sending partner emails. Join us next Tuesday!
If you could take a minute, please check out my updated Finished Swap Packages page. Apparently I’ve sent 21 swap packages this year! :O I like being able to see everything I’ve made all together, and see myself progress as a maker.
OPEN CRAFT SWAPS
#StarTrekCraftSwap – hosted by @ohsewquirky_nancy.