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Virginia Wells

Virginia Wells

How To Host Your Own Clothes Swap Party

Need some encouragement to cull your wardrobe? A great way to be ok with letting go of the clothes is to host a clothes swap party with your besties!

A clothes swap party? I hear you ask. What’s that? 

Well, in essence it’s a get together with friends. You invite a handful of friends around and ask them to bring clothes, shoes and accessories that they no longer wear.  You then make all of these items available for the other attendees, to try on, take home and keep if they find something they like. Anything not claimed would go to a charity after the event.

Here’s the basics:

  1. Firstly you’ll need to declutter your wardrobe! Maybe set a date with your friends for the swap so you have a deadline to clear it all out! (For a detailed guide with templates you can look at my ebook).
  2. Decide who’s hosting and make sure you have enough space for all your guests in your home – it can get a bit tight. You’ll want enough sitting space and space to have all of the clothes out.
  3. Invite your guests. You might want to advise them if they can bring a guest, or their kids. I’ve done some events with kids, and it can be very distracting for you (and very boring for the kids), and depending on the space, it might get a little cramped. So, decide before inviting your guests if you want their kids, or extras, along for the ride too.
  4. Decide if you want to limit what can be brought to the swap. You might want to make it only clothes (no shoes and accessories). As time goes on, and you host Swaps regularly, people tend to start bringing miscellaneous items (like household items) too which can become hard to manage. So be clear what you’re happy for them to bring to a swap.
  5. Make sure you have enough snacks, drinks and some mirrors! You’ll also need to have some bags or boxes for the unclaimed items. Most will come with a bag of clothes and then will reuse their bag if they’re taking clothes home, but it’s good to have a few spare.
  6. It can be good to get the clothes in advance from your guests so you can set the clothes up for viewing before arrival. Or, have your guests help separate them into the piles as they arrive.

Organising the clothes:

I’ve seen it done several different ways over the years depending on who’s hosted. I’ve hosted one for several years now amongst friends and we like to separate them into type of clothing like ‘tops’, ‘dresses’, ‘pants’, ‘skirts’ etc and then have the host hold each item up for all to see. This way we get to see everything. 

The types of categories you could sort into
  • Tops
  • Bottoms (skirts, pants, shorts if you have lots!)
  • Dresses
  • Formal
  • Scarves
  • Swimwear, gym wear and other (again you might group these down into smaller categories if you have lots of something)
  • Jackets
  • Men’s (If you want to on-gift your partners stuff, or find stuff for your partner).
  • Children’s (If you’ve got kids, you could host a kids clothes swap).

Community clothes swaps I’ve attended either have the clothes hanging on racks, categorised much like a shop. Type of clothing item, and broken down into sizes. Flea-market style swaps I’ve attended typically have piles of clothes on tarps or tables. This then means a free-for-all and look at your own leisure approach. If your gals (or guys) want a more relaxed approach then you’ll need enough space to have piles of clothing on table tops, beds or couches. My house ain’t big enough for that!  So, for that reason, the video we put together at one of my events shows the way we do it.

Donations

Once everyone has had a look, tried stuff on and chosen some new pieces, those that are not claimed get donated to charity. Everyone wins!

 

Some things to consider as potential do’s and don’ts for you party

After hosting a number of these, I’d say there are a few things that could help make these run a bit smoother.

Set rules around what is acceptable to bring along (quality wise) and more

Ask guests to only bring items they’d be happy to wear themselves. If they wouldn’t wear it because it’s stained or damaged, than no one else is likely to want it either. So, if there are any items that are too old, worn, pilled, stained, ripped, has holes, mildew, broken buckles or zips. Or shoes with scuffs or broken heels and soles… these are to be thrown out, rather than brought to the swap. Alternatively, you could offer the option for these items to come along, but they must be separated from the main swap. These items can then be brought to H&M for recycling (they have a bin to place clothes for donation and recycling near their check outs).

I’d recommend asking guests to ensure that all clothes must be cleaned and washed so they are ready for donation.

Also, to keep shoes under control, ask that shoes come in boxes, or tied together with a rubber band so the pairs are easily located.

Ask for volunteers and help

It’s a large task, so ask on of the attendees to bring some snacks, or make the drinks up as guests arrive. Ask your guests to sort their donation bag into the categories you have.  The other roles that are good to allocate is someone to ‘show’ the clothes to the group (if you do my method), and another to pack those items not wanted away into bags as you go (or at the end). You could even ask someone to be the person to deliver the charity items to the selected charity.

See how you go! Would love to hear your tips and experiences.

 

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