August 30, 2011

Busy Bag Swap: Details

 BUSY. That's what we've been this summer.  Just when I think we're going to have a nice, relaxing all of a sudden FILLS up!  It has been FULL of fun, but this worn out Momma is ready for the semester to begin in this college town and for some routine to return.

BUSY.  That's what Chelsea and I have been this last month coordinating the Busy Bag Swap (I'm not complaining it has been SO fun and well worth it!  You'll see!)

BUSY.   That's what I'm hoping that my kids will be as they explore each of their new activities from the Busy Bag Swap.  As of last night, they are the proud new owners of 25 Busy Bags with one adorable giant, hand-sewn bag to tote them around in.

About 6 weeks ago, Chelsea and I posted on our blogs about our crazy idea to coordinate a Busy Bag Swap.   We had such an overwhelming response that we had to cut it off at 26 (including ourselves) people.  We hated that we had to draw the line and tell some of you that you couldn't be included in our swap, so we promised to share everything that we learned so that you could (as simply as possible) coordinate your own swap or re-create any of the 25 activities either by yourself or with just a few friends.

Here are a few things that we DID learn:

1. Coordinate this with one other person!  It was a lot more work than each of us ever imagined, so share the workload with someone else.  It was nice to have another friend to bounce ideas off of, re-write emails to make sure we included necessary details, help make decisions and split the group in half to coordinate, answer questions, etc. We also started a pinboard with inspiration ideas for our swap.  You can check it out here.  There are some projects that we pinned but were unable to use.

2. Share an online spreadsheet like one from Google Docs with your co-coordinator.  This made it simple (and elminated a lot of phonecalls and emails between us) to be able to go in and make changes or updates to a spreadsheet that both of us had access to, at our convenience. (Thanks for setting this up, Chels!) In our spreadsheet, we listed Name, Email Address, Location (since we allowed out of towners to participate), Kids(Names/Genders/Ages) Bag Assignment and were able to make little notes as we heard back from our participants about things like whether or not they considered themselves crafty or would be willing to sew, pay for shipping, if it was okay to include their blog info/share pictures of their family in their blog postings, etc.

3.  Consider the number of people that will work best for your group. If we were doing this over again, we think that around 20 people (up to 22) would be the perfect number.  Most supplies purchased for the bags, seemed to come in increments of 8-12, so instead of buying for 26 and having supplies for 8-10 more bags leftover, we'd buy for around 24 bags, allowing for  a couple mess ups or extras to giveaway.  This would save money and time.  Narrowing down your 20 most favorite activities may be the hard part!

4.  Decide up front whether you will require your group to laminate or not.  We did not even think about addressing this beforehand.  It wasn't until after we assigned all of the projects...some which would require no lamination and some that would require a LOT of laminating that we considered how quickly this could add up for some of our ladies.  So, we decided to make it optional.  As coordinators for the swap, decide what you want to do and address your requirements/expectations up front before people even commit to joining.  Requiring laminating will definitely up the cost of the busy bags but would mayy be worth the higher cost in the end. I thought that I'd just laminate all of my stuff once I received my bags, but now I'm so eager to let my kids get started on these, that the last thing I want to do is take the time to laminate and cut all of these out. (Please hear me, ladies who participated in our swap and didn't laminate: This was our fault! And we don't want want you to feel bad for one second that you didn't laminate them.  In hindsight, this is just something we wish we would have thought through.)

5. Be sure to tell your ladies to keep one of their own bags at home for themselves. This only got confusing after the swap when we were trying to pack 10 bags up for people (who lived out of town that we'd be shipping their bags to) and didn't know if we were supposed to send them one of their own back or not.  We think we figured it out, but it did take us about 2 hours to sort through to make sure that everyone was sent the correct number of bags.

I'm sure that Chelsea will have some other things to add.  And I'll edit this as we remember more things over the next few days for your future reference, all you aspiring swap coordinators, you.


Okay, now for the exciting news...beginning tomorrow, Chelsea and I will feature a new busy bag each day for the next two weeks on each of our blogs.  I think it's going to be oh, so fun for you ladies involved in the swap to get to know each other a little better through each of the posts.  I hope you're just as giddy as I am!

They'll include:
-Free printables* (to be shared but not sold) for those of you wanting to recreate any of the busy bags included in our swap (and for you who may need to replace any destroyed or misplaced printables)
-Estimated Cost for each bag
-Details about where to get supplies/directions on how to recreate each bag.
-And provide links to other blogs/activities that inspired us to assign and create each busy bag. (We believe in giving credit where credit is due and sharing the blog-love.  That being said, please kindly notify us, if you believe that we may have gotten "cues" from something that you have posted and we didn't acknowledge you.)

*Terms of Use:
We'd love for you to feel free to use the files that the ladies in our Busy Bag Swap have worked hard to create, but please keep in mind that the printable images and files on this site are some of our ladies own exclusive designs. They have been generous enough to freely share them.

The terms of use for using the free printable crafts and activities are as follows:  You may share these printables with students, friends, neighbors and family or even with your child's class full of children. As long as you share for personal use only. Please do not post printables on a web site - instead provide a link back to the original posting on this site. Linking to the original page is both welcome and appreciated.