I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the holidays are in the air! I’m not quite ready for Christmas carols and decking the hall, but I love the feeling of anticipation that comes from knowing everything will be sparkly and bright soon. I’m also looking forward to getting together with friends and family to celebrate the end of the year. I do have a slight problem though… I dislike the obligatory gift swap that’s front and center at every holiday gathering. You know the one I mean. Where everyone brings a wrapped up item that you then have to open in front of the rest of the group with no idea what you might get. And you never walk away with something you actually want. You what I do want? I bet you can guess. Yep; seeds! I think we should all have seed swaps during the holidays instead. I know that’s a bit of an unlikely hope, but if you like the idea of hosting your a seed swap party, keep reading to learn how to plan your own.
The first thing to consider when planning your seed party is size. Ask yourself how big of a group you want to host. A big group can be lots of fun! You’ll have lots of people around who all love seeds and gardening as much as you do. However, you may decide to start small for your first party and keep to keep it more manageable. Less people will make for a more intimate gathering with lots of good conversations. Whichever you choose, by starting with the size of the party in mind, you’ll have a much easier time working out the logistics.
Size is also important because it may also be dictated by who you want to attend. If you are a part of your local gardening community, you’ll probably already have lots of friends with green thumbs to invite to your seed swap gathering. If you don’t know many people or want to open up your party to the community, you’ll need to look outside your current social circle. Look for Master Gardener or Master Naturalists programs, botanical gardens, or gardening clubs in your neighborhood. You can also create flyers and post them in libraries, extension offices, gardens, museums, coffee shops, arboretums, outdoor centers, or other similar places.
Size will also dictate the location of your seed swap party. A small group may fit perfectly in your home, but if you’re hosting a large party, you may need to get more creative. If you need to find a larger location, check with your local botanical garden or arboretum, library, or county extension office. Many of these places will be happy to host you, and may even be willing to help with advertising. Whatever location you choose, make sure that there is plenty of table space for your group. If you provide or have people bring food, you’ll need space to put it all. Even more importantly, you’re going to need space for all those seeds! You’ll want enough space to lay out all the seeds with enough space between them to keep them from accidentally mixing.
Once you have your table space staked out, it’s time to stock up on seed party supplies. At a minimum, you’re going to want lots of envelopes (like these) or plastic bags, labels, and pens. This way people can safely store and identify their seeds until they get home. It’s a good idea to encourage people to bring print outs of growing instructions for their seeds or provide extra paper for notes. You may also want to provide scoops or plastic spoons to help keep the area neat.
It’s also a good idea to have some basic rules in place to keep everyone organized. For instance, how many scoops or types of seed are each person allowed to take? If someone comes without seeds are the they still allowed to take some? Remember to tell party goers that they should not bringing hybrids seeds (read my previous post to find out why), or old seeds that will no longer sprout.
Finally, make sure that you have the area organized to keep track of everyone’s seeds and help participants find the seeds they’re looking for. Group seeds by whatever criteria you want: family, season, or variety, but makes sure that there are signs so that everyone knows where their seeds go. It’s also a good idea to ask seed bringers to clearly label their seeds with the name, variety, and any growing instructions.
I hope that this posts inspires you to go out and plan your our seed swap party!
If need to buy some extra seeds of your own, check out Botanical Interests.