Entertaining on a budget has become an art in this tough economy. One of the best ideas for a party I've heard of lately is the Swap Party. Everyone has stuff in their closets that they never use, that doesn't work for them, for whatever reason. It's still good stuff to someone else, guaranteed! Pick a theme, such as books and board games, craft supplies, clothing and accessories, kitchen gadgets and cookbooks, or home accessories. Invite as many friends as you want, and tell them to bring their castoffs in whatever category you've chosen. If exchanging clothing, it's ok to invite people who wear various sizes. If none of the clothing fits, they will probably find some accessories. When everyone arrives, let the fun begin!
Provide an area such as a large table or clothes rack where the items can be displayed. As people get there, have them arrange their items in the space provided. For clothing swaps, provide a separate area for coats and purses so none of these go home with a new owner by mistake!
While the guests look over the items, it's time to snack and enjoy a glass of wine (or two!). Once everyone has arrived and had a chance to relax, mingle and scope out the merchandise, it's time to trade!
You'll probably want to come up with and explain some basic rules before you start. Provide a try-on room with a full-length mirror if it's clothes you are swapping. Give your guests boxes or bags and have them put their names on them, so they can hold onto their finds. It doesn't have to be a one-for-one exchange. The goal is to get rid of everything. Make sure you donate whatever's left at the end of the evening to your local thrift store.
Your guests will have a blast trying on outlandish outfits, coming up with ways to use craft supplies, discussing the plots of books, or dreaming about how they could use that tablecloth or those candlesticks to freshen up their dining room. The thrill of shopping without the agony of the credit card bill that arrives shortly after. What could be better!
I bet you are mentally scanning the contents of your closets, cupboards and bookshelves right now. Time to send out the invitations!