Hostess Advice

If you are planning on hostessing for the first time, here are a few tips for you.

1. Establish a theme, how many and what kind of items you want to swap (even: 6/6 or odd 6/5 one for the hostess), date due (firm to you by then or postmarked by that date) and envelope/postage requirements. NO metered mail strips is customary to put on a swap detail/proposal.
Post this information to a group you are in, or several groups, AND/OR create a blog/webpage with the info and direct people there, that way, you don’t hog up an email list.  You can also list the URL in your signature.
Note: Specify if it is for a group only swap or add to your listing, where you listed the swap (other groups).
Have them email you personally to sign up.
Have them put their swaps in plastic bags (Ziplocks preferred) with their names/addresses/emails on them.
Give people plenty of time to create and mail to you, 4-8 weeks, more depending on the project.

Update/Alternative: Sign ups can be done with Google Documents for free with your GMail account. You just create a form and use the URL they provide for that form. People go to the specific page and sign up.  Use “text boxes” for the info as they are larger and names or emails don’t get cut off.
If you have created a swap blog, or a webpage with the info — then just add the link onto the page for people to sign up.

2. Advertise your swap. Public boards get more people across the net or in a community you belong to.
It is important to have sign ups email you personally (state this) and not post as a sign up on a message board.  You may not see it.
If you are just starting, you may want to start out within a community of people you know first.
Some communities only have swaps contained among members (aka “Spartan” Swaps) to avoid some swap problems that can arise. Usually, in these communities, you must post the swap as a “proposed” and becomes “official” when you have enough players to cover your swap, the amount of items you are swapping out.  You may want to make sure you have several more players than what you are swapping out to cover any potential drop outs and keep the swap in balance with none of the swappers receiving one or some of their work back.
As stated above in #1 — if you create a swap blog or webpage, advertise by putting the URL in your email or MB (message board, if allowed) signature.

3. As people sign up, add their emails to a group list.
Keep a notebook of the names and addresses.  Some hostess request a name and snail address as not everyone signs their work and can make a swap confusing.  With names, addresses and emails, this makes a great double check list.  Writing it down also protects you if you have a puter crash or accidentally delete the names, which has been known to happen.

4. Two weeks before the due date, email the group including your snail mail address, to remind them to mail out. Ask people to notify you if they will be dropping ASAP.  This can give you some time to get a few more players if needed.
In some swaps where there is a limitation of players, you may want to establish a back up list of potential players in case someone drops.  This happens in Tech swaps, Directory swaps, or All Plus One swaps as the number of pages/items that need to be done and mailed are  equal to the number of players who have committed themselves. Remove the dropouts off your mailing group.

5. One week before the due date email the group another reminder to mail out containing your snail mail address.

6. As the swap comes in, check and count the contents, email the person or keep the group alerted to what has arrived.  Notify anyone of a mistake personally (wrong theme, item or number of items)  Mark this off on your written sheet.  Keep all of your swap together in one place like a basket, box, crate, bin.  This way you do not lose a swap in your house.

7. You may have some late people or no shows.  No shows never email the hostess saying they have dropped out, you are suppose to be a mind reader.  Late people are that, late, they can hold up a swap.  Sometimes even the PO holds up a swap by late deliveries.  This is why you need to establish the due date or posted by date.  Some hostesses will mail back late entries.  To mail back a late entry, do not open the envelope. Mark “return to sender” on it and put it in the mail box. Never under any circumstance, take a card for yourself, and then return the swap back to the late person because you deserve the extra card as a hostess incentive.

Now you are ready to lay out the swap. (continue)