How to Host a Clothing Swap

I hosted my first clothing swap back in high school. I don't even remember what gave me the idea, but I had a few friends come over with some clothes they wanted to get rid of. We sat in a circle on the floor and held up our unwanted garments, trying to "sell" them to the others in the group. We giggled, tried things on, convinced each other of what to take or what to keep, and generally had a blast.

Since then, I've hosted a number of swaps — some with friends, and some with total strangers. I'm in the midst of planning another one, so I thought I'd share a few tips with you if you'd like to plan a swap of your own.

Invite a diverse group of people. 

Friends, co-workers, neighbors, relatives — the more, the merrier (provided you have the space). If it's only you and your besties, chances are you already know each other's style and there won't be many surprises. If you are inviting a disparate group of people who don't know one another very well, be sure to tell everyone you invite to bring a friend.

Schedule well in advance. 

Let people know at least 2-3 weeks ahead of time that you're planning the swap. This gives people time to go through their closet and set aside some things they're looking to get rid of. Good times for swaps are after the holidays, or at the change of the seasons (when everyone is sick of the clothes they have been wearing for the past few months).

Let people know your terms

If space is an issue, you may want to limit how many items each person can bring. Be sure, too, to let people know if they are free to take their unwanted clothing home with them at the end of the event.

Set the stage

On the day of the swap, set up areas for different types of clothing (shoes, tops, pants, etc.) and put your own items out so people can clearly see what to do. Choose a designated room where people can go to try things on — a bathroom or bedroom is best, but try to have a full-length mirror available, whether in the changing room or elsewhere. If you serve refreshments, make sure you set them up well away from the clothing.

Get the ball rolling

When your guests arrive, greet them and invite them to set their clothes out in the designated areas, and let them know where the changing area is. Plan on waiting until the majority of your guests arrive before giving anyone the green light to dig in to the assembled clothes.

Plan for leftovers

Chances are there will be some clothing left at the end that no one wants. As the host, you should have a plan for what you will do with this (which you should communicate to everyone ahead of time). Look for a local charity that accepts used clothing, whether it's a thrift store, a clothing program or something else.

Have you hosted clothing swaps? I'd love to hear your tips, too. Happy swapping!


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