Busy Bags – Hosting an Exchange

It doesn’t take long to find scores of ideas for creative and engaging Busy Bags online, but it can take a lot of time (and sometimes money for supplies) to make them all. However, by hosting or participating in a Busy Bag Exchange, you can significantly cut the cost and time involved.  Recently, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to participate in an exchange with some fellow moms in my twins club.  Here are some strategies we used in organizing the event.

Part III: Hosting an Exchange


  • Find a user-friendly location.  Depending on the number of participants, you may need to look for options other than someone’s home.  We had 20 moms participate and parking was a concern for us. Some of the options we considered were the following:
    • Local fire station (Community meeting room)
    • Event room at a restaurant
    • Participant’s home
    • Local library – We ended up renting a meeting room at our local library.  For a relatively small rental fee, we had access to a large room, tables, chairs, and plenty of parking.  We were also able to bring our own snacks, which of course, is a must for any gathering, right?
  • Decide on a either a set number of bags OR participants.  This was a potentially tricky issue for us which ended up working out wonderfully.  Our twins club has over 100 members, so after putting out an initial invite (via Facebook and Big Tent), we had a pretty large response.  We found we either had to limit the number of participants (making 20 bags is one thing, but 35?) or decide on a finite number of bags to make.
    • Option 1:  Set number of Busy Bags – In our case, we ended up asking all participants to make 20 bags.  This allowed for a few late additions (and a few drops) without a drastic effect for all involved.  A possible down side to this method is that not everyone will get all of the bags, although everyone will leave with 20 different bags.  We had a plan in place to divide into groups (determined by a simple random drawing).  First, Group A could choose 10 bags, followed by Group B.  We’d then repeat the process for the remaining bags so that no one had “last choice” on bags.  However, with a few last minute drops, we ended up with exactly 20 participants and did not have to choose in groups.
    • Option 2:  Set number of Participants –  With this option, you know that everyone will take home each of the bags.  However, you may have to turn away some people (especially if you are hosting from within a large group) in order to keep from asking people to make a lot of bags (or to run back out to the store to make more at the last minute).  However, setting a sign-up deadline could help prevent any problems with this method.  And, if there are any late “drops” from the exchange, extra bags can always be given to a new mom or friend unable to attend.
  • Provide attendees with resources and expectations.  While there are countless busy bag ideas to be found, not everyone is on Pinterest or knows exactly what a busy bag is.  Here are a few suggestions:
    • Post an example picture (via FB or e-mail) in the weeks leading up to the exchange.
    • Provide attendees with a list of Busy Bag Ideas to choose from (or at least to give them places to look).
    • Send a list of “instructions” via e-mail or Big Tent including requests such as:
      • Try to keep the cost per bag at or under “x” dollars.
      • Put all parts in a clear, resealable bag.
      • Include a title and brief description of your activity.
      • Do (or do not) laminate, use card stock when appropriate, etc.
      • Bring two bags/bins – one for the activities you bring, and one for the activities you take home.  Side note:  As you can see from the pictures, Thirty One bags work perfectly.  
  • Allow members to demo their activities at the exchange:  Before the actual exchange (and after snacks, of course), have members do a short “show and tell.”  Of course, most bags are self-explanatory, but we found that a lot of our moms had some great extension ideas we might not have considered.  Once everyone has had a chance to show off their efforts, let the exchange begin!
Looking for Busy Bag Ideas and Resources?

Post shared with: Mom on TimeoutThe Epic Adventures of a Modern MomTwo-in-DiapersLittle Becky HomemadeSix Sisters StuffFor the Kids FridaysCheerios and LattesI Can Teach My ChildHealthy Mommy, Healthy BabyKids Co-op



  1. Found you on the mommy brain mixer this week! Following and commenting from http://fluffimama.blogspot.com/
    I hope you’ll come check me out and do the same. Thanks <3

  2. This is a great idea. I’ve never heard of it before.
    Found you through the the Mommy Mix. :-) Have a great day.

    Ashley @ Bottles, Diapers … Babies

  3. I’ve wanted to do this but just never get around to it! Such a good idea :)

  4. What a clever idea~!

  5. Looks like a ton of fun! What a great idea! Thanks for linking up to our Strut Your Stuff Saturday. -The Six Sisters

  6. This is a great idea! A few friends and I were just talking about this a few days ago. We will definitely be making busy bags to swap this winter. Thanks for posting!

  7. I am doing one of these for our homeschooling group. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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