How to host a [low-stress] clothing swap!

Have you ever been to a clothing swap?!? It's just like it sounds - gather with friends and bring unwanted clothing, and trade with them! I've been to two and just recently hosted one, and it was such a success that I wanted to share my tips and take-aways with you.

How to host a clothing swap (low-stress style!)


I've been to a formal clothing swap, with a long period of gathering/making piles and scoping out before a hard start point when the swapping began, and an informal clothing swap with potluck brunch and people coming in and out at different times. I decided I wanted to host one of my own when I noticed my thrift store pile had grown pretty big and had a lot of nicer pieces in it, things I wanted to share with friends. I've always loved trading clothes with friends, but my style is definitely different than that of some of my friends and I never want to impose a piece on one particular friend... so a swap is the way to go, though there isn't always one when I need one!

So I put together a clothing swap of my own and it went really well. Here are a few things I did that worked out great!

1) Find a co-host. I cohosted with my friend who'd held the informal swap before. She invited some of her friends and I invited mine. I hosted at my place so I still had to do a lot of cleaning, but having someone to help with invites, potlucking, and cleanup (see item 5) `was great! Plus, the more the merrier, and it's really fun to mix groups of people and get a wide range of styles at these things.

2) Create a Facebook event but also send personal invites. I created a big private Facebook event and even used the occasion to friend some people from work! The Facebook event was good to share content in, as well. Post info about what a clothing swap is, for friends who've never been to one before. You could post a link to this very blog post!! I shared this one but I don't think it was that helpful. Facebook events can get lost in the shuffle but every time you post, invitees get a notification. So sharing regularly before the event keeps it in everyone's minds. I also sent individual emails and texts to a few friends who I know don't check their Facebook accounts much!

We planned our party about a month ahead and held it on a Tuesday evening. There's never a day or time that works for everyone, but summer weekends can be so busy and we got a good group of people for a fun mid-week break!

3) Skip the rules. I conferred with my co-host about if we wanted to start swapping at an official time or do the one-for-one trade rule of some swaps. We both agreed it was best not to. It's really more fun for everyone when things are informal. It's first-come, first-served, but people are pretty nice about sharing things and it really takes the pressure off to keep it low-key. Plus, who has time or attention to keep track of how many items everyone's swapping??!?

4) Swap everything! It's called a clothing swap and it's mostly women's clothes, but people also brought cosmetics and I shared a bunch of home decor items. There was also a men's clothing pile. Notify your guests if you'll have room for other categories, so people feel welcome to bring whatever they want to share. We also had guests over a very wide range of sizes, so bringing accessories and all kinds of items means more people can swap with each other.

Also plan to swap athletic wear! That's been a surprisingly popular category at this and another clothing swap I went to.

5) Donate the rest to a good cause. I think we had about 15 guests at our swap. When we were done, some people took back some of the items they'd brought that no one had taken, but most of the clothes were still left over in my living room and dining room. Like, TONS of clothes. I counted 17 bags, but some were much larger than others. We sorted the clothes, accessories, etc. into three major groups: 1) work-appropriate clothes (these went to Dress for Success), 2) more casual, youth-appropriate clothes (these went to Northwest Children's Outreach, which provides clothes and goods to foster kids and is always short on items for older children), and 3) random miscellaneous such as household items--these went to Goodwill. I filled my car twice, donating things over a couple of days. This cleanup phase was definitely the most work, but totally worth it after such a fun evening with friends and I really hope our clothes go to people who really want and need them!

Hosting a clothing swap is a lot of work, but not more than any party, and you get new clothes at the end of it!! Everyone had a great time (and posted in the Facebook event afterwards, keeping the community going--yay!) including me, even with all the cleaning husband and I did the weekend before! Before it happened I was thinking, wow, this is a lot of work, I'm not doing this again! But it was so enjoyable bringing my groups of lady friends together and playing with clothes that I think I might again sometime. Although, if any of my friends wants to host one, I'd be just as happy going to theirs! ;)


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