How to Organize a Busy Bag Swap

by Jessie on May 24, 2013

How to Organize a Busy Bag Swap with This Beautiful Frugal Life

Last summer I organized and hosted a preschool busy bag exchange. It was so much fun!

What is a busy bag, you ask? A busy bag is a simple, age appropriate activity that can be pulled out and easily assembled and completed by your child independently. I decided to get a group of friends together so we could each buy supplies for one type of bag, make a bunch of them and then swap them!

I’d love to share with you some lessons learned from our swap.

Determine the targeted age range for the bags

A lot of the ideas online are split into two main categories – toddler and preschool. I chose preschool for my swap because one of my main goals was for my 4 year old to have activities to do during his rest time.

Determine the number of people you want to invite to the swap

(A good number is 20) I invited 15 moms (by e-mail) who I thought might want to participate and invited them to send the link on to friends and once we had 20 people sign up, we closed the sign-up. One of my friends sent the link to a mom in a homeschooling co-op and there was a ton of interest in that group from moms with younger kids who needed to be entertained while they taught older children.

Develop a shareable document for people to sign up on

I created a Google doc where I linked to ideas that I found on Pinterest and I used a lot of the links found on this google document from Second Story Window.

Send out the invitation

On my e-mail invitation I included a brief description of the purpose of a busy bag swap, a link to the Google doc sign-up, a date by which they needed to sign up (I closed it after a week), date of the swap (a month after the invitation was sent out), location of the swap (I chose a picnic shelter at a local park) and some expectations of the bags (see below).

Make expectations of bags clear

Some of our guidelines were that the cost of the bags should end up being about $1 per bag, bags should include instructions unless they are completely self-explanatory, use a high-quality Ziploc bag so they can be opened and reopened without ripping and that they would be able to bring their bags to the swap or give them to a friend ahead of time.


On the day of the swap, we met at a park so our kiddos could could play while we swapped. We all laid our bags out in piles on tables or in boxes on the ground. We each gave a brief explanation of our bag activity and then we all walked around and picked up one of each bag. It is helpful to bring a laundry basket or a couple of reusable grocery bags with you!

Busy Bag1

My son had a wonderful time with the bags and got to try out a lot of different activities that I would have never had the time to make. I hope you are inspired to start planning your own swap!

Question: Have you done a swap like this or made your own “busy bags”?  What tips do you have to share?  What has been your child’s favorite activity?

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