Swap Till you Drop! How to Host Your First Clothing Exchange Party

BreakingModern — One person’s trash is another’s new Friday night outfit.

Across the nation, clothing swap parties are giving new life to old apparel and saving partygoers hundreds of dollars in the process. Want to get in on the money-saving fun? Here’s what you need to know to host your first clothing exchange party.

Clothing Exchange Party

How Does a Clothing Exchange Party Work?

Invitees are asked to bring their unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories. The goods are put on display, yard-sale style, and partygoers hunt for their next free outfit among the racks. It’s a great way to save money and keep perfectly good clothing from clogging the landfills.

Where do I Host It?

There are two routes you can go: Host a private party at someone’s home, or hold the swap in a public venue and open it to the masses. There are intricacies to each, which we’ll discuss. But the overall rules for the venue are the same. You need display space for the clothes (think garment racks, a clothesline strung across the room and tables for stacking shoes, sweaters and jeans), a private area for people to change (a bathroom or a curtained-off space will do) and don’t forget a few full-length mirrors.

Clothing Exchange venue

Who do I Invite?

Here’s where things can get a little dicey. You either want to invite only people who are all in the same size range. Or you want to invite a large group of people and hope that several size 2s and 12s show up. Encourage guests to bring one-size-fits-all items, like bags, scarves and jewelry, so no one goes home empty-handed.

How do I Prevent People From Bringing a Bunch of Junk?

Setting strict requirements on what’s swap-worthy is critical to the party’s success. “Stress the importance of bringing gently-used clothes without rips, stains, pilling, stretching or fading,” said Susie Ulrey, a Tampa, Fla. recruiter who recently hosted her first clothing exchange party. No one wants your old gym shorts or summer camp T-shirts. “Guests should only bring clothes that are in great shape that they don’t wear anymore.”clothing exchange header

Do we all Shop, er … Swap at Once?

There’s nothing wrong with making your party a free-for-all and allowing guests to grab anything that strikes their fancy. But to keep things as fair and organized as possible, consider giving the event some structure. Give everyone a token for each item they bring to ensure no one walks in with one shirt and leaves with five pants, three shoes and a new pair of sunglasses. You could also draw straws to determine who gets to shop first. If multiple people want the same item, resort to a good old game of rock, paper, scissors. Whatever you decide, make sure the rules are communicated clearly in your invite.

What do I do With all the Stuff no one Wanted?

Find a local charity to donate any clothes that couldn’t find a new home. After Susie’s Tampa party, she brought the remaining items to a shelter for victims of domestic violence. “We knew there’d be leftovers that could be worn and enjoyed by others,” she said. “It was a no-brainer.”

Use Goodwill’s store finder to find a donation center near you. You can also arrange a pickup with the Salvation Army.

For BMod, I’m .

Featured/First image credit: Alley-33-Clothing-Swap-betholsoncreative-68” by Beth Olson via Flickr Creative Commons

Second image credit: Alley-33-Clothing-Swap-betholsoncreative-51” by Beth Olson via Flickr Creative Commons

Header image credit:Clothing By Iris” by Joel Penner via Flickr Creative Commons

Helen Anne Travis

Author: Helen Anne Travis

Helen Anne Travis covers travel and lifestyle at BreakingModern. Follow her on Twitter @Helen_Anne.

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