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How to host a fun and frugal book swap

MMI Copywriter

By Kim McGrigg, MMI Community Manager

Unlike my coworker Anna who has switched to digital reading, I still love the feel of a book. I pick up books in a number of places including garage sales, thrift stores, and bargain bins. Occasionally, I’ll even pay full price (usually when I’m at an airport and desperate!) The result is that I have a lot of great books lying around. I’ve always enjoyed trading books with friends, so I decided to host a books swap.

The concept of a book swap is simple: people bring books, they leave with other books. It’s like a clothing swap, but easier since one size fits most! Following are some tips for hosting a successful book swap.

  1. Invite book loving friends over for about two hours—just enough time for snacking, visiting, and book “shopping.”
  2. Ask attendees to bring at least one book to swap and a snack or drink to share. If you have the space, you can ask them to bring a friend along. 
  3. Set up a space for the books that offers plenty of room for browsing; a dining room table works very well. 
  4. Establish some simple ground rules. I said exactly this: “Just use common sense. If you bring one book, don’t take ten.” 
  5. Identify a charity to donate leftover books. At the end of my swap, there were about 15 books remaining that were warmly received by the local women’s shelter.

Of course, I ended up with a lot of great (and free!) books. But my favorite result is that I learned so much about books, authors, and my friends.

Book Swap

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Today, the creators of announced the start of its fifth annual regifting story contest which ends on December 31st. People from around the nation are invited to share their regifting stories and videos for a chance to win prizes valued up to $500. Regifting is the art of taking an unused gift and giving it to someone else during the holidays. is a forum for all things regifting, including an archive of more than 1,000 consumer stories running the gamut from the heartwarming to the horrifying. In addition to this year’s regifting story contest, the site also offers fun games, facts, personalized gift certificates, regifting party rules, and much more. was created by the nonprofit Money Management International (MMI) to give people a fun way to learn more about regifting, and to start the conversation on a topic many people are reluctant to discuss—holiday spending and financial worries. This year, holiday gift-giving may be particularly difficult as economic stressors continue to stretch family budgets.

Consumers may have been hesitant to break tradition in the past, but this is the year everyone should consider adopting new holiday practices. Instead of going broke this holiday season, consumers should consider bringing unused gifts out of the supply closet.

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