How To Host A Clothing Swap

If you missed my last blog post check it out to see how I cleaned out my closet to prep for our semi-annual clothing swap. 

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I’M INVITED TO A CLOTHING SWAP?

I have this pretty awesome friend (heyyy, Mer!) who hosted a clothing swap at her home almost 8ish years ago (the dates are fuzzy) and invited me to attend. This was my first ever clothing swap experience, and I was very confused. Basically, I was supposed to gather up any of my clothing that either didn’t fit or I was sick of wearing and bring to her house…and share? I had so many questions: Is this a garage sale? Do we get it back? Is there a limit on how much I can bring…how much I can take? My brain has experienced the birth and mothering of my two children since that first swap, so I can’t even remember what I took to swap and what I took home with me. 

What I do remember, is that I was hooked after that first swap. My sweet friend is a GENIUS. I know I love an excuse for a good girls’ night with snacks and drinks, and most of us have way too many clothes just taking up valuable hanger real estate that we don’t even think about wearing.

WHAT TYPE OF CLOTHING IS ELIGIBLE?

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What to do with that top I’ve worn over and over again and is in great condition but absolutely cannot wear it one more time? 

Bring it to the clothing swap! 

What do to with that pair of shoes you bought because they were on sale and your foot just barely squeezes into them so you’ve only worn them once?

Bring them to the clothing swap!

What to do with that non-maternity dress that you stretched to make fit your baby bump and don’t think you’ll ever want to see it again? 

Bring it to the clothing swap!

If you really think about this, the possibilities are endless! We’ve incorporated our husbands’ clothes, kids’ clothes, jewelry, shoes, accessories, you name it - into our swap. The majority of swap attendees leave with a few new items to add to their wardrobe and know that what’s left at the end of the swap will be donated. 

HOW DO I HOST A CLOTHING SWAP?

So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details of how to host a clothing swap. My friends and I have made ours super casual and simple, but I’ve heard of others who go into more specific qualifications and maybe even a fee up front. 

Here’s my clothing swap checklist to get us started:

  • Host Home 
  • Date/Time
  • Invitation
  • Food/Drink 
  • Donation/Action Plan for Leftovers 

First, you need to find a hostess who will open her home to people bringing in LOTS of clothing. Generally, the hostess is responsible for helping transport the remaining clothes to their donation destination post-swap, but we try to pitch in if we can. 

Second, pick a date/time that most of your friends can attend. The swap works better if you’ve got a good group contributing to the swap piles. If you’ve only got 3 people interested, give it a shot and see how it goes! Our motto is the more the merrier! We recently just had our biggest turnout yet, and it was so much fun!

Next, designate someone to put together an invitation with details of what the swap entails. We usually rely on an electronic version of an invitation using Paperless Post, and we send it out anywhere from 2 weeks - a month in advance to give people time to gather their swap stash. Here’s some sample wording from our clothing swap queen bee, Meridith, to give you an example of what we say:

It’s time to clean out your closet. Bring any clothes, shoes, accessories, purses or jewelry that you don’t wear anymore and swap them for something new (well, new to you). Don’t have anything to bring? Come anyways and find something you like, you don’t have to give something to take something. Don’t want to fill your closet back up? Drop off your clothes for others to take. All swapping will be done for free, so if you can’t part with it, don’t bring it.  At the end, anything that wasn’t swapped will be donated. Please feel free to pass this invite along to anyone you think might be interested in joining us. The more people we have, the more we have to swap!

The next step is to designate who will bring food/drink. It’s important to us to keep ours so simple, since these are usually weeknight events and most of us have small children. Usually, we divvy up these duties between 2-3 people, and we end up with some savory and some sweet eats along with wine and sparkly water. Keep. It. Simple. 

Finally, to round out our checklist, I would highly recommend having an action plan in place with the leftovers before you host the party. Even though we’ve been doing this for several years now, we’re always blown away by the sheer volume of clothes contributed and then left over. We’ve done a variety of different donation drop-offs in the past, but my favorite was this year’s choice: Revolution Thrift. Revolution Thrift is a local non-profit thrift store dedicated to making a big impact in our area. They take your donated items, sell them, pay for their own rent/utilities but then give every single other penny earned away to local nonprofits in our area. They host a new non-profit each month, so you know exactly where your money is headed. We were thrilled to hand off our stash from this round of swapping. 

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WHAT DID I ACTUALLY GET AT THE CLOTHING SWAP?

It’s funny because I’ve come to learn that my friends all have different swap strategies. Some come early to get dibs on what arrives first. Some only bring clothes and don’t take any because they’re trying to make space in their closet. Some just wait until the end and pick through what’s left because they’ve been too busy chatting the whole time and watching everyone else find new items to love…wait, that’s me. I get a bit distracted at the beginning of the swaps and usually tell myself I’m not bringing anything home with me. I’m always wrong and always end up finding some major favorites. 

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This year I snagged some pieces I’m really excited about for fall/winter and also one really cute dress for the spring! I came home and combined the “new to me” items with items already in my closet, and I love what I scored! In the past, I’ve come home with some shoes or more accessories, but this time around, I walked away with tops, sweaters, dresses and one pair of amazing gold hoop earrings! 

Here are my three favorite fall/winter looks I was able to create. What’s really great about the swap is you can end up with some bold pieces you may have wanted to buy but didn’t want to commit to with cash. This printed cardigan is a perfect example of something I would have seen in a store and wanted but probably not spent the money on it, since its’ such a specific look. 

I was super excited about these neutral tops that can be worn alone as we transition to cooler weather or eventually paired with one of these amazing chunky sweaters as the temps drop (eventually….). 

This is a super cute spring/summer dress I’m looking forward to wearing with those fun hoops and my favorite Sseko ribbon sandals. It’s not something I would have normally purchased, but I loved it when I tried it on at the swap! 

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I also stocked up on four dresses for my upcoming Dressember challenge. If you haven’t heard of Dressember, let me just tell you, it’s amazing. During the month of December, I (along with many other advocates) will pledge to wear a dress every day in December - yes, that’s 31 days, in an effort to raise funds and awareness for modern day slavery/sex trafficking. It has become a full-blown movement, and I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s Dressember and cannot wait to dive in again. It challenged me creatively and also brought up lots of good conversations. 

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WHY DO I LOVE THE CLOTHING SWAP?

I could write an entirely separate article to answer why I love the clothing swap so much, but I’ll keep it short and sweet. It just makes sense! In a world of fast fashion and keeping up the Instagram and Pinterest trends that are always changing, it just makes so much sense to me to share what you have with your friends! There are so many articles of clothing I’ve donated throughout my life that are perfectly on trend and in great condition, but I just got sick of wearing them. Why not share? 

As I mentioned before, it’s also a good way to try out different styles you may not have wanted to spend money on in the store. This dress is a great example of that for me. I LOVE it on the hanger. It throws off a Clueless, grunge-y but trying to be sophisticated kind of vibe that I totally want to pull off. I tried it on with a duster cardigan I snagged at our last swap, and I don’t love it but I don’t hate it either. I thinks it’s great I get to take these closet risks with someone else’s donate item and try to make it work for me. 

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IT’S YOUR TURN TO HOST A CLOTHING SWAP!

Go forth and swap, my friends! It’s so easy and SO. MUCH. FUN! We’ve made it a semi-annual thing around here, and we all look forward to swap time. Pick a hostess, nail down a date, send an evite, arrange a few snacks, have a donation plan post-swap and have fun sharing your closets with each other! Let us know if you decide to swap. I want to hear all about it. 

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