How to Host a Clothing Swap Party

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Clothing swaps are a great way to clean out your closet, eliminate clutter, and upgrade your wardrobe with a few new pieces – all without spending a dime! I recently hosted my first clothing swap party and wanted to share my top tips in case you’re thinking of hosting one of your own.

Set Clear Guidelines

When you send out your invitation, in addition to basics like date, time and location, make sure to include clear guidelines for the swap itself. It’s important to limit the amount of clothing each friend can bring so that there’s variety but it’s still a reasonable volume to navigate through. I set the limit at one shopping bag or about 10 items per person and it worked well (we had a group of ten women). It’s also good to clarify that items should be washed, in good condition and without stains or holes.

Include Options for All Sizes

Since there will certainly be guests in all shapes and sizes, make sure to include hats, jewelry, handbags, and even makeup, perfume or nail polish, so it will be easy for everyone to find goodies to take home. Since cosmetics are a harder item to donate, it’s always much better to pass on to a friend than toss into the landfill!

Merchandise Your Set Up

Make sure items are organized in clear zones so it’s easy to set up and shop. I hosted my swap at night when my girls were sleeping upstairs, so I was confined to using our living and dining rooms which are both on the smaller size. I set up the dining room table for tops and dresses, the dining room bench for skirts and pants, and placed a large basket on the floor for accessories and shoes. I printed out oversized labels for each category so guests could easily set up when they arrived and put clothing in the right zones. It’s also helpful to set up a “dressing room” which can be as simple as a full length mirror propped against the wall in a clear area. However you set up, make sure to remove any fragile or breakable items before the swap since there will be lots of action.

Set the Ground Rules

To avoid total chaos, I had each guest pick a number out of a hat to determine “shopping” order. We went in order and each person had a chance to browse through the loot and pick 1-2 items they loved. Once everyone had taken their turn, we all browsed together and it was a fun free for all. However you decide to organize your swap, make sure the guidelines are clear and as fair as possible so each guest has a chance to snag a few favorites to take home.

Get Party Ready

Every party needs some good food and refreshments, music, and decor. I love offering a signature cocktail and making sure there are a few non-alcoholic drinks on hand as well. In terms of food, small light bites are best for a clothing swap so that guests can keep their hands free while they score some loot! If cooking is not your bag, a variety of nuts, cheeses, and crudités pair well with a selection of mini sweets or candies. About an hour before guests arrive I like to turn on some tunes, set out fresh flowers and light a few candles. It’s the little things!

Coordinate Donating to Your Local Charity

Inevitably, there will be unclaimed clothing at the end of your party. Do yourself a favor and connect with a non-profit or charity in advance so you can arrange a donation right after your event. If you have a big haul to giveaway, your local charity may even do a free pick up.

Looking for more closet makeover inspiration? Check out my Closet Makeover program.

Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson

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