Saturday, June 30, 2012

Busy Bag Swap

* Updated at the bottom of the page.*

I've been wanting to do a busy bag exchange for a while but the last few months have  been full of adjustments. Well, mainly one big, cute adjustment:

But I keep on seeing so many good ideas online and I'd love to have some on hand for John (and later, Isla) so I'm ready to try to make it happen! If you're not sure what a  busy bag exchange is, here is a rundown:

A busy bag is a simple preschool activity that can be kept in a plastic bag that you can easily take with you and give to your toddler or preschooler to keep him/her occupied at a doctor appointment, while getting the oil changed in the car, etc. Or you can use them at home to keep your toddler occupied while you're cooking dinner or pull them out on a rainy or excruciatingly hot  day. Each person chooses a busy bag to make and makes one for each person participating in the exchange. If 4 people are participating, you will make 5 (one for yourself plus 4 more). (I have no idea how many people may be interested- I'm hoping at least a few!) Sometime at the end of August/ beginning of September, we'll all get together and swap bags. The benefit is that by making multiples of one bag you'll streamline the creating process and cut down on costs, but by exchanging, you'll receive a variety of bags to entertain your preschooler. 

If you're still interested, here are the rest of the details

The busy bags can be as simple or as complex as you would like. If you are not artsy craftsy there are super-simple ideas like this button snake which requires very minimal skill. Likewise, if you're a regular Martha Stewart, you can make something as elaborate as you wish. 

There are hundreds of busy bag ideas online. For simplicity's sake, you will choose your own bag and let me know what you're making. To avoid duplicates the first person to let me know her choice will keep it and anyone else who submits the same thing or similar will have to choose something else. 

If there is an element of your busy bag that might require you to spend an exorbitant amount of money, there may be the option to delegate those costs to each individual person. But this should require a minimal amount of work- the bulk of the bag should be complete at the time of the swap. For example, some busy bag ideas require a lot of lamination which can get expensive.  If you're independently wealthy and money is no object, you can feel free to laminate! But if you'd like to keep costs down, you can complete the busy bag without laminating and each person can then laminate her own. It will be relatively inexpensive to laminate one verses one person laminating 5 or 10. 

At the end of August/beginning of September, we'll meet for a girls' night/ busy bag swap! I'll make some dessert and we can all mingle and snack and swap. I'm thinking the last weekend in August 8/24 or 8/25 or the second weekend of September9/8 or 9/9 (the weekend after labor day.) That way everyone will have time to get supplies and assemble the bags and still have time for summer travel, etc. 

If there is anyone who doesn't live in town, or is not able to make it to the swap, you can still participate. You will just have to make arrangements to get your bags to me before the swap, either by shipping or dropping them off to my house. After the swap, yours will either be shipped back to you (you must cover the cost of shipping) or you can pick them up. 

If you are interested, please email me ( by Saturday July 7th saying that you would like to participate and which bag  you'd like to make. Also let me know if you have a preference for the swap date. The next weekend, July 14th, I will send out a list of the participants and which bags they will make as well as the date for the swap. 

There are lots of ideas here and here, as well as on Pinterest and many other blogs. Or, you can make up your own!

 Feel free to make a bag beyond your child's current developmental level. Having a variety of activities that will be suitable for ages 18-ish months to 3 or 4 years (ex. alphabet tracing sheets) will allow for room to grow. 

I know several people who have done and participated in swaps like this, I've never attempted to organize one so please bear with me if I haven't thought of something that should be addressed. 

Questions, comments? Let me know! 

*Update: Since I've read a little more about a busy bag swap, I wanted to clarify a few issues: 

First, in my original post I mentioned exorbitant costs related to laminating. Certainly, there is the possibility that these bags could cost a lot to make. But, lest cost be a barrier for anyone, I want to emphasize that many very simple activities can be made for as little as $1 per bag. In fact, on one blog I read about an exchange in which they set a limit of $1 per bag. At this point, I'm loath to set a firm limit because if not very many people participate, cost will be less of an issue because we won't be making very many bags. Regardless, some might feel comfortable spending more than others, but everyone should know that the general guideline is: keep it cheap. 

Also, on July 14th when I send out the final list of participants and what each person is making, I'll also send some guidelines to follow for the bag assembly/ labeling, etc. so that we're all on the same page regarding what we can expect from the final products! 

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