We’ve all been to shopping parties. We attend them because we want to spend time with our friends and support the hostess. Often times, even if we don’t love what's being sold, we feel obligated to buy something.
There’s a better format for a shopping party…
A clothing swap.
While there are lots of ways to handle unwanted clothing and accessories after a closet cleanout, one of the most fun is to host a clothing swap!
The idea is simple. Inform your friends that they need to clean out their closets. Have them each contribute at least 12-15 items that they’re ready to purge. Set a time to get together and swap!
Here are the basics for hosting a successful swap:
1. Pick a date- Double check with your closest friends to be sure the date works for everyone. Swaps can be held at any time...during the day or in the evening. Make arrangements for your husband and kids to be out of the house during the party. This makes it much easier for guests to try on clothing without the risk of embarrassment.
2. Create a guest list- I suggest 8-12 people…but it can work with fewer (if each person has a good selection of items to donate) or more, provided you have enough room for all of the merchandise and guests.
Decide if you want to handle all food and drink yourself or if you’d like each guest to bring something. In my experience, women don’t eat much at swap parties.
Keep it simple. Serve a few great finger foods, or desserts with chilled sparkling water and wine or a special cocktail, if you’d like. Send out invitations…Evites are fine. There are loads of adorable graphics and ideas available on Pinterest or with a simple Google search.
It’s helpful to include several guests who are basically the same size…though shoes, handbags and accessories make it possible to swap regardless of body type.
3. Clean out your closet- If you haven't done this already...get to it! Pull out all of the items you NEVER wear…and won’t ever wear again. Make a pile of ‘tradeable’ pieces. Include accessories, handbags, shoes, etc. Your swap items might have been gifts you don't love, things that are just not your color, too tight or too big. They might be perfect for one of your friends! Make sure all clothing is in good condition, freshly laundered and ready to wear. Let your guests know that you'll be happy to donate any items that aren't chosen to a local charity.
4. Arranging the merchandise- Ideally, you want to create a boutique-like shopping environment in your home. Remember that well-presented items will look so pretty when your guests arrive…setting the mood for a really fun ‘shopping’ party.
Creating shopping areas – arrange the merchandise in a way that is thoughtful and easy to shop. For example; put all evening/formal clothing together…complete with bags and
shoes. All denim can be displayed together or mixed in with tops and sweaters. I like to arrange by season. In each section it helps to arrange by size…smallest to largest.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Tags - Tagging all merchandise helps make shopping easier. Send tags in the invitation or arrange to drop them off with each guest. Provide a minimum of 15-20 per person.
There are coutless options for tags...check Staples, Target, Dollar Tree or make your own. On each tag write the guest's name and ask them to write the size of the garment. Have guests attach a tag to each garment before dropping them off to you (either with string or a safety pin).
Request that all merchandise be delivered to your house at least 4 days before the party so that you can organize and arrange everything ahead of time. But be sure to have extra tags on hand at the event, as people might arrive with untagged pieces.
Rolling racks- It’s super easy and affordable to rent rolling racks.
Though, I have seen merchandise successfully placed without any racks...using mantels, staircases, bookshelves, hall closet, etc. The cost of renting a rolling rack is usually about $16 for three days. Check with your local party rental company. The racks are easy to set up and make the swap look a bit more professional.
Hangers- You can rent hangers, but I think it’s easiest if everyone brings most of their garments on hangers. Assure them that they can have them back after the party. Or you can buy a few bunches of plastic tubular hangers- they are inexpensive and keep things uniform.
Full-length mirror- It helps to have more than one full length mirror set up in the
main shopping area. Guests will want to see how they look in the pieces they are considering. It’s more fun if all of the guests can watch and comment on what people are trying on.
An open bathroom- bedroom or den for those who are way too modest to change in front of others.
Shopping Bags- Ask everyone to bring a few paper shopping bags to the party. Plan to collect several of your own, as some people might not have any.
On the evening of the event…turn on some upbeat music.
Light a few candles. Set out the refreshments...
and get ready to swap!
Some hosts impose more rules during the swap than others. I feel that fewer rules are better, especially if the guests are all friends. A more strict set of rules is sometimes necessary with larger groups of women who aren’t well acquainted, such as in schools, churches or neighborhoods. I have never seen friends fight over garments at an
Remind everyone that the merchandise is completely FREE! If they take something home and don't end up wearing it...no big deal. They can donate it or bring it to the next swap:-)
The idea is to have fun! Spend time with friends. And score a few great pieces without spending a dime.
I have hosted and attended many clothing swaps. If you'd like to host one, but need some additional info...just send me an email at email@example.com
I'd be happy to help you!
Thanks for reading.
Hello, I'm Kristen.
As a personal stylist,