I have many friends who have a wide variety of skills and talents. Over the past year, I’ve been able to “trade” things with these women on many occasions. We mutually benefit from one another – I enjoy sharing my sewing skills with friends, and I am elated when a friend shares her talents with me.
For example, last fall Tonya posted a round seasonal tablecloth in our church newsletter. She no longer needed this shape, so I converted the fabric into napkins for her. In return, she made a batch of dough and posted about this trade on her blog. This provided publicity for my new sewing blog, and allowed our family to enjoy a dinner with her homemade pizza dough.
Stephanie makes beautiful cakes and offered to supply the cake for my daughter’s birthday party. In exchange, I am making her daughter a handmade blanket. I love good coffee creamer, so Esther made me a jar of homemade vanilla creamer and I sewed an Osnaburg bread bag for her.
Although mending clothing is not my favorite sewing project, I will often do it for friends. Such is the case with Sarah, who makes gorgeous jewelry. She has offered to repair some broken necklaces for me in return for mending some torn jeans.
Here are a few guidelines I follow when trading goods and services with friends:
Make sure all the terms are clear before the trade.
Talk about specifics of what you will trade, when it will be finished, and any other details before you start. Even with close friends, it’s important to know what is expected from both parties.
Recognize abilities in your friends.
Encourage those you know by saying, “I love your home décor. What can I offer you in return for helping me remodel my bedroom?” This will make your friend grin from ear to ear and she will be more than happy to find something she desires from your abilities.
Make sure you are compensated for your time and investment.
Even though you aren’t exchanging money, make sure both parties are receiving their fair share. It may help to think about what you would charge for such a good or service, and compare that to what you are being given.
Think outside the box.
Maybe you love to clean and can offer cleaning services in exchange for babysitting your children. Perhaps you love to cook and could offer a meal to a friend who could iron your husband’s shirts. Or, consider sharing flowers from your garden in return for washing and waxing your vehicle. Another idea is to share some of your stockpile with a friend who knits beautiful scarves and mittens. Even if you don’t consider your skill a true talent, it is surely valuable to someone.
Trading goods and services is a great way to “splurge” on something you may not typically have, build stronger relationships with friends, and share your gifts with others.
Note from Crystal: Please note that according to the IRS, the fair market value of bartered services must be reported as income.