Here is how it worked for us:
First, I handed out the list of guidelines below at one of our meetings so everyone knew what to expect.
Guidelines for the MOPS Toy Swap
- Please only bring toys that are in good condition—no broken or missing pieces.
- In addition to “regular toys,” we will accept puzzles, games, sports equipment, and art supplies. DVDs and music CDs should be targeted to younger kids. (No VHS or cassette tapes)
- NO books, clothes, or stuffed animals
- Coloring books and small toys (Happy Meal, etc.) will be placed in a box labeled “Free”
You may bring as many items as you wish—everything must be dropped off at (church) between 7-9 p.m. on Monday the 21st. We will price each item, and on Tuesday you will receive tickets based on the value of the items you bring.
On the morning of the swap, you will spend your tickets to shop for items of your choice. Tickets have a $1 value, so if you have 4 tickets and want to buy a $5 item, you will need to pay $1. All items remaining at the end of the swap will be donated to (thrift store).
There were 4 of us who collected items the night before the swap, which was nice to have more objective input on pricing the toys we received. We then organized items by category (sports, games, baby, etc.) We counted the number of tickets each swapper earned, and then put those in an envelope labeled with the person's name, which we distributed the morning of the swap.
I asked a couple non-shoppers to serve as cashiers. For the first 3 minutes of the swap, we allowed all participants to browse and select one thing. This avoided grabbing and chaos, but also hopefully ensured that each mom walked away with at least one item she really wanted. Then we had "open shopping" for 15 additional minutes, and we encouraged those with extra tickets to give them to someone else, as only a quarter of the moms in our group chose to participate.
After 15 minutes of shopping/swapping, all moms present could browse and take home any remaining items for free. Items left were donated to the local thrift store. I noted that the majority of what remained were small baby toys, such as rattles and soft blocks, so in the future, I think we would discourage that category.
Feel free to contact me if you have additional questions, but please make sure I have your e-mail address so I can respond. If you're interested in a different kind of swap, my friend Kara just posted about one here.