There are a few tips offered to pull off a successful food swap, and it may forge a ritual that friends or family participate in weekly. The various approaches may dictate the ideal guest-list, and could provide many with meals for days to come. It makes sense to find a core group of individuals who would be interested in the activity and not to depend on any who may have time or reliability conflicts. This may mean that some are invited on an as-available basis, perhaps bringing items that can augment or enhance the core dishes being exchanged, including breads or dessert items.
Themed food swaps
Perhaps the most familiar of the food swaps is the Christmas cookie exchange, where a number of friends each bring a plate containing a dozen of their own homemade cookies. Often, hosts and hostesses will request that each bring an additional dozen to be shared during the gathering. This gives way to many dressing-up their plates, with fancy ribbon or embellishments, and is a fun holiday tradition for many individuals. Another spin on this popular favorite is to have a harvest food swap, and trade baskets of produce or fresh ingredients found in the garden or local farmer’s market.
Potluck style food swaps
Potluck style swaps can provide each participant with freezer full of dishes to serve to their own families, and can provide a pragmatic approach to mealtime for those involved. Typically, each is asked to bring a main course that will provide four or more servings in crockery or dishes that don’t warrant return. Disposable foil pans or thrift-store baking dishes are ideal for these affairs. Some may want to assign food categories to each participant, such as side dish or vegetables, and this may work well when there is a revolving assignment to alleviate expenses for the same participants. Again, individuals in either type of potluck food swap will be asked to bring a dish to be shared with others participating for a communal meal to be shared at the exchange.
Tastings and swaps
A wide range of foods and beverages might be experienced at a tasting, and individuals can bring less uniform portions and more diverse items to these events. These are very interesting when there is a bigger guest list, as various offerings emerge from participants. Some may choose to bring wines or home brewed beer, while others bake breads or offer up a roast or poultry. The leftovers can be packaged and distributed after the tasting, and some may bring prepackaged goodies to share in advance. These less-structured social gatherings yield attendants many items and treats to take home, with the biggest perk being the fellowship of the shared social event.