Save Money at Christmas: Throw a Toy Swap!

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Repost from Nov. 21, 2011

Want to clean out all the toys that have lost their luster in your house? How about get some free Christmas gifts for your kids? What if you could do both of those things while having a fun night out with your friends?

If you were nodding your head along with me–figuratively or literally–as your read the aforementioned questions, then I would say a Toy Swap is right up your alley.

I don’t know about you, but a night like that includes three of my favorite things in life: decluttering my house, getting something for free and hanging out with my girls. Not to mention, it meant a night off from my sweet kiddos (thanks hubby for putting them to bed) and recycling some things that I may have eventually tossed otherwise. This is the second year in a row my playgroup friends and I have done one, and we all agree the toy swap is worth it. Thrifty-organized-green-moms unite!

Here’s how it goes down, if you want to give it a try before Christmas (or any other time of year):

1) Collect all your gently used toys, books, DVDs, and CDs for kids around your house. It would be a especially nice to put batteries in the ones that need them and to clean them off. We didn’t have any rules about how much to bring, since we’re all buddies. We just had a “gentlewoman’s agreement” that went something like this: “I am not going to worry about what I get out of this. Instead, the focus is on decluttering my house and hanging out with my friends. Any cool new toys I get are bonus.” That way, no one stresses too much about it.

2) Set aside about two hours one night to meet at a friend’s house. Everyone bring a dessert, appetizer or beverage to share.

3) Set out your loot in one room. It’s helpful to divide it into baby items, books, DVDs, etc.

4) Distribute enough numbers on slips of paper for each person there. These will indicate the order in which people get to choose toys for each round. We wrote out two 1s, two 2s, two 3s, etc. So, to be clear, there were two people with #1 and two people with #2, etc. This made the swapping go faster.

5) For the first round of the swap, #1s go first. They get two minutes to select one toy and one book. Then, the #2s go and so on.

6) After the first or second round, we decided everyone could select two toys and two books. This made it go faster. You can change the rules up however you like, though.

7) After going through a few rounds, we decided to end it. At that point, it was a free-for-all. Anything leftover, we either took home or donated to a charity.

Want to see what I got? And see another one of the 99.9% of pictures that I look like an A-1 dork in? I can’t help it. It’s who I am.

This Mater the Greater guitar will get a new string (to replace the missing one) and then be fought over for many months post Christmas by my two older kids. I also got a cool board game, a toddler toy for Ben, and several stocking stuffers that I’m excited about.

Here are all the cool Toy Swapping Mommies and some of our loot. We went home some happy thrifty-organized-green mommas that night.


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3 replies
  1. holli says:

    I love this idea. I’m totally doing a version of this for Spring Cleaning season… and maybe another at Christmas. Its such a fun hang out event. I’ve seen this done with kids clothes and women’s clothes, but love the “things” swap idea. Thanks!


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  1. […] Maybe with kid toys or home goods in the future. In fact, Rachel has used the same concept for a Toy Swap in the past. Check it […]