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What You Should Know About London Food Swappers

Posted by Raymond Padilla on December 1, 2016 with No Comments

What do people usually bring?

Anything that they’ve made or grown themselves. I’ve seen homemade bread loaves, empanadas, lavender infused vodka, half dozen hen eggs from their backyard, marmalades and preserves, marshmallows, cookies, jarred peaches, bundled fresh herbs, homemade amaretto, limoncello, homemade pasta, bags of pecans, perogies, pies…you name it!

Can I bring a sample of my item to share with everyone?

Absolutely! In fact, please do! Bring other snacks too if you’d like, it adds to the potluck atmosphere.

And we always love a little wine with our swap so feel free to bring some booze to share (unless we are at a venue that is selling wine in which case, let’s support their business!)

Food Swapping

What if someone wants to swap something with me that I don’t want?

You don’t have to accept! Really. I know it feels weird to say no, and you want to be polite, but, if you don’t want it just tell them, thanks, but that’s not really my thing. Kate (at Hip Girl’s) is gluten-free so she doesn’t want to swap for anything made with gluten.

Several people I wanted to swap with didn’t like coffee liqueur and I can assure you I didn’t take it personally. I have, however, accepted some swap items knowing I wanted to give them away as gifts, and that was great too!

How does the actual swap work?

I’m still a little unclear how the whole bid process works.

Here’s a pretty detailed description, but if you’re still unclear:

It goes something like this: You have lovingly made 5 loaves of bread. You see 5 different things that people have made that you want (a half dozen eggs, a package of 6 cookies, a beautiful jar of homemade amaretto, a package of fresh herbs from someone’s garden, and a package of 1 dozen homemade dumplings).

Food Swap

So you walk around to each of the bid sheets for those folks and write down your name John Smith and what you have to trade 1 loaf of lovingly made bread. Then, when the swap begins you go find those people (and they might be finding you too!) and you offer your bread.

Four people want it, and one person doesn’t. So then, you go find something else you might want — you look around the table and see some jam, so you go to that person and offer your bread. Success!

A bid is only a place to start when deciding who to wants your stuff and who you might go talk to. As for the actual swapping, swappers will ideally have a look at their item’s sheet (which tells them who is interested and what they have to offer in exchange).

The swapper will make their way over to the person they want to trade with and seal the deal. If a swapper doesn’t get as many offers as items they have to offer, then they can go around and just chat with people and see if they’re interested in trading.

It always works out really nicely. (FYI: The numbers on the sheet are arbitrary, you should go down the list according to what items you actually want, not who wrote their name down on your sheet first)

What if I don’t know anyone?

That is totally ok! At the first swap I hosted I only knew two people in the entire group — and I had 25 people in my home who were brand new folks! It’s a GREAT way to meet friends who love food.

Also, Twitter is a great way to keep in touch afterward. For London Swappers use the tag #londonswappers so we can all find each other afterward.

How long do the swaps last?

Usually about 2 hours. The first hour everyone arrives and sets up and the swap fun begins in hour two. Then we all pack up and head home!

How many items should I bring?

The swap format is one to one so each item you bring should be swappable for another single item, so just keep that in mind. Most people bring 5 to 10 items to swap.

Does writing your name on a bid sheet guarantee you’ll get it?

NO! Swap sheets are just a starting point for hashing out trades when the swap starts.

Do I need fancy packaging?

No. But if you want to, feel free! Plenty of people just write on the top of their jars with a sharpie but other folks really fancy it up, do whatever your creative heart desires!

How many people usually attend?

It varies by location. You should probably have at least around 10-15 for a good swap to happen. We’ve had around 25-30 for the last two and some are swapping at around 50.

If you have more questions, email me and I will also put them up here