How does the actual swap work? I’m still a little unclear how the whole “bid” process works.
A “bid” is only a place to start when deciding who wants your stuff and who you might talk to first. As for the actual swapping, swappers will ideally have a look at their item’s sheet (which tells them who is interested and what they have to offer in exchange). The swapper will make their way over to the person they want to trade with and seal the deal. If a swapper doesn’t get as many offers as items they have to offer, then they can go around and just chat with people and see if they’re interested in trading. It always works out really nicely.
The order of offers on the sheet is arbitrary; you should go down the list according to what items you actually want, not who wrote their name down on your sheet first.
What do people usually bring?
Anything that they’ve made or grown themselves. We’ve seen homemade bread loaves, empanadas, lavender infused vodka, duck eggs, marmalades and preserves, marshmallows, cookies, canned peaches, bundled fresh herbs, sausages, limoncello, homemade pasta, bags of pecans, pierogies, pies…you name it!
Can I bring a sample of my item to share with everyone?
Absolutely! Samples help “sell” your items to attendees who might not be sure about accepting your offer.
Does writing your name on something guarantee you’ll get it?
NO! Swap sheets are just a starting point for hashing out trades when the swap starts.
I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by turning them/their item down. How do I avoid making people uncomfortable?
It should be emphasized in the beginning that in no way should swappers feel obligated to accept someone’s offer (if they don’t actually want the item), nor should swappers get their feelings hurt if someone turns them down. Food is a very personal matter and a number of factors – like food allergies, personal preference, utility of the item in their kitchen – will influence someone’s decision to swap. Sure, you can always swap and give away the item, but only if you have extra items to work with, which will not be the case for people who only bring a few items.
Hosts: emphasize this point at the beginning of your parties and tell people to please not take it personally since food is such an individual matter. Make this announcement again as you open up the swapping floor.
Do I need fancy packaging?
No. It’s up to you how you want to present your items. Some people are happy to write on the top of their jars with a sharpie but other folks really enjoy fancying it up; do whatever suits you best.
How many people usually attend?
It varies by location. Anywhere around 10-15 attendees will make for a fine swap. Any less than that and you all will probably end up with an even array of everyone’s goods, which is still fun. Many cities can host up to 25 swappers comfortably indoors, and some groups are swapping with up to 50 people.