One big thing I was up to was hosting a Busy Bag Swap. Soon after I joined Pinterest I saw all sorts of ideas for Busy Bags. I started pinning away with the intention of hosting a swap...eventually. Well, eventually finally came and I hosted a Busy Bag Swap with 15 friends and friends of friends. It was a great success and we all walked away with 16 different and awesome Busy Bags. Hosting the event wasn't stressful and I would do another swap in a heart beat!
I am not going to recreate the wheel and go into the details of hosting a swap. I used this great post over at Second Story Window as my guide in planning and organizing my swap. I basically did everything she tells you to do. If you need ideas for the busy bags see the links at the bottom of this post. She also has a great busy bag board and I think my busy bag board is pretty good too!
A few little things that were helpful to me as a host:
1. Make a board on Pinterest to collect ideas. Best way to do it. Then select your favorite twenty or so and put into a spreadsheet for people to choose from. This way no one has to search for their own idea. (See more on this in #3)
2. Send out an email that clearly explains what busy bags are and how a swap works. I typed up a document and attached it to the email that initially went out. (You can see mine here.) Make your guidelines and budget very clear. Also emphasize that the ideas are just that - ideas. Encourage people to change or modify to fit the budget and to add their personal touch. I allowed about 4 weeks from the time sign-ups ended to when we had our swap.
3. I uploaded our sign-up sheet to Google Docs and shared it - check the option to share with those who only have the link and include the link in the email. (Otherwise it would be searchable online and the sheet has people's names and emails.) I also enabled the document to be edited by others. This way people could sign-up immediately - the document auto-saves- instead of emailing me, waiting for me to respond back, recording who is doing what, and then having the chance of two people wanting the same thing. Very helpful for me! (You can see mine here.)
4. Also, we had 16 people in our swap. That seemed like a good number. It wasn't too many bags to make and you still walked away with a lot of bags. I've talked to some friends about doing a smaller scale swap, like 5 - 6, but where the bags are a little more involved and you could have a larger budget, like here.
Here are the pictures and links to the bags that we made in our swap. Everyone did a fantastic job. I did a rage of activities for older toddlers to preschool age. My little miss, almost three, can do most of the bags below.
1. Popsicle Stick Puzzles
2. ABC City Game
3. Color Popsicle Stick Matching - The maker of this bag added a neat twist for older kiddos. See the Popsicle sticks written with black? She wrote the colors in black and on the reverse side is a flavor that is associate with the color. So for red it said cherry, orange said mango, purple said grape, etc. Your child then can try and match the color of Popsicle to the 'flavor'.
4. Pattern Matching Game - She used scrapbook paper she had on hand and was still able to laminate the cards for us and stay within budget! Yay!
5. Button Snake - This one is a favorite. I added more felt pieces after the swap.
6. Lacing Cards
7. Tracing Shapes with Stickers - My little miss has a more interest in sticking the stickers wherever she can. :)
8. Hot Glue Rubbing PLates - Cardboard with shapes made from hotglue/puffy paint. She even included a homemade crayon!
9. Decorate a Cupcake - This was my bag. I had been saving cereal boxes 'just because' and I had a couple yards of flannel that I wanted to get rid of. So I made everyone a mini- flannel board to go with their cupcakes. Don't be that impressed with the 'toppings'. I have a little die cut machine that I used to cut out the flowers, hearts, and stars.
10. Mini-Chalkboard - These were 5"x7" boards painted with chalkboard paint. Fabulous!
11. Scooping/Transferring Activity - Perfect for toddlers.
12. Shapes in a Square - Love this one! My little miss isn't quite ready for this one, but great activity. The point is to fit all the squares into the shape.
13. Playdough Mats - She ran four copies off for each of us and made some playdough. She also passed out a the link where we can print off more.
14. Color Number Wheel - Double sided circle with clothes pins with numbers/colors on them. Simply match! (My little miss ran off with one clothespin!)
That's a wrap of our Busy Bag Swap! I love all the bags and so does my little miss.
Now the only thing I have to figure out is how to store these gems! They are still sitting in the box I collected them in from the night of the swap. Any ideas anyone?
That was my Busy Bag Swap experience! It was awesome. I didn't think hosting the swap was stressful and I would totally host one again. As long as you have clear guidelines and you give deadlines and dates upfront, it really isn't a big deal to organize one. There are so many wonderful Busy Bag ideas out there...so grab a few friends and make some! You won't regret it.