All clothing images from www.zwwzy.etsy.com. I compiled this collage in Photoshop.
Last week I attended a spring clothing swap hosted by my friend Melissa of Mason and Virginia. It forced me to do some spring closet cleaning and allowed me to catch up with friends, pick up new (used) duds, and be part of a group donation to the secondhand store. Melissa has the clothing swap process down to a science, so I'll share how she does it, so that you can host one too!
Set a date and a 2 hour time frame. Then gather 5-15 friends to invite. People who are interested in fashion, vintage, or saving money are perfect candidates! No need for everyone to be the same size- we all have things in our closets that are too big or too small. There is usually something for everyone. Regardless of how many people are coming, ask each person to bring a minimum of 5 pieces of clothing/accessories to the swap, and hangers for any dresses or nice shirts they bring. Most people will bring way more than 5, because it's an easy way to get rid of things you never wear or don't fit. You may want to purchase an inexpensive clothing rack or borrow one for the party.
Provide some snacks and maybe a bottle of wine or two. To keep the swap organized, write categories of clothing on paper signs and hang or set them around your living room. Melissa made signs like: skirts, dresses, shorts, jeans, t-shirts and winter.
Woo Hoo! Swap Party Time is Here!
There are 3 parts to the party, and as the host you'll need to keep an eye on the time to make sure the party moves along accordingly. You won't need to announce Part 1, but when it comes time for Parts 2 and 3, you'll need to give your guests some direction.
Part 1- Mingling: The first 45 minutes or so of the party should be designated for mingling. As people arrive, have them set their clothes out neatly around your living room near the appropriate signs. Your guests can check out what other people brought or they can make their way to the kitchen to chat and catch up, drink a glass of wine, have some snacks- whatever.
Part 2- Try It On: Gather everyone in the living room and announce that the next 30 minutes are for trying on the clothes. All pieces are up for anyone to try on during this time- so no reserving or holding clothes! Direct folks to a separate bedroom or bathroom with mirrors. (At Melissa's swap there were 15 participants, so there was no room to be bashful! We all had to try things on in the same space.) By the end of this time your guests should have an idea of their top 5 picks. This makes Part 3- The Draft go faster.
Part 3-The Draft: The last part of the party is the draft. If there are 5 people at your party, write numbers 1 through 5 on little pieces of paper and mix them up in a hat. Have everyone draw a number. The person who draws #1 gets to pick a piece of clothing to keep first. #2 goes second and so on. Only one person should pick at a time. When you get to the last person (#5 in our example) that person chooses two items, and then go back down the number sequence. So the order would look like this:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Repeat from beginning
Go up and down the sequence like this several times, until everyone feels like they've gotten what they've had their eye on. When everyone is satisfied, begin the free-for-all. People can just start grabbing whatever they like that hasn't been claimed. It's actually not as chaotic as it sounds! I've never seen a dispute at any of Melissa's swaps, probably because at the beginning of the draft period she always announces that if there IS a dispute there will be a "who wears it best" contest. Both people will try it on and everyone at the party will judge who looks best in it. Yikes! No one ever wants to be part of that!
Cleanup & Post Swap
There will be a lot of unclaimed clothes. Have some trash bags ready so that your guests can help pack them up. The next day take the bags to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
Clothing swaps are fun! They give new life to a piece of clothing that might not fit, since it may be the perfect fit for someone else! And it's neat to see a piece of clothing that you once loved being loved again by a friend! It's also interesting to see how someone else wears it and makes it their own! Swaps take some planning, but it is worth it because your friends all leave with free clothes! Start planning a clothing swap for your friends or family today!