Give new life to your old things! Learn how to host a clothing swap — planning, organizing, and what to do the day of your swap!
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My sister-in-law Alicia recently hosted a clothing swap. I thought it was such a good idea that I thought I’d share it with you, and give tips and tricks on how to make it a success!
What is a Clothing Swap?
A clothing exchange is a way to share resources, be more ethical, keep clothes out of landfills, and have a good time! The basic concept is that everyone brings clothes they don’t want, and then they take home what they do want. There are several ways to do this, which I outline below. It can be more than clothes as well — shoes, jewelry, toys, etc.
So how do you host a clothing exchange of your own?
Gather a Group
This particular swap was hosted by Alicia’s mom group, but pretty much any group of women works. So gather your friends, your church group, your mom’s club — whatever group of women (and/or men!). It’s good to have a group to host, and then extend the invitation to the swap to other women you know so that there’s a good number of women of all shapes and sizes.
Select a Host Mama
So there aren’t too many cooks in the kitchen, choose a host mama. She’ll be in charge of collecting items beforehand and storing them until the swap, as well as either hosting it at her house or being in charge of the hosting location (church building, rec hall, etc.). She’ll be the contact on invites you send out and she’ll be in charge of set up and clean up (with other members of the group helping, of course!), as well as any money on the day of the swap.
(Side note — want to know the amazing story behind Alicia’s short hair? Read about it here!)
Pick a Swap Type
I’ve seen several ways to do a swap. Here are a few examples, but you can create one that works best for you and your group!
- Shoppers can bring as much as they want and take home as much as they want.
- Shoppers must pay an admission fee that goes to the group.
- Shoppers who bring items get in free, but shoppers who don’t bring any clothes to swap must pay an admission fee or bring a canned good.
- Shoppers are allowed to take home the number of items they bring. For example, if someone bring ten items, they can take ten home.
- Each item someone brings gets them one entry in a raffle to win a prize.
- Some swaps even have someone to alter clothing on site! Usually the admission fee would go to help pay for this person.
Send Out Invitations
More women = more options. So create a little graphic with all of the relevant information and have your friends post to Facebook and other social media, run in a church flyer, or print out and personally deliver to friends.
Collect the Clothing
Start planning your clothing exchange a few months in advance. You want to give people time to go through their things and gather enough clothing to make for a useful exchange. If everyone only brings a shirt or two, there will be a lack of variety in what people have to choose from. I had a ton of things in this exchange because of my 40 Hanger Closet experiment.
Asking for donations of hangers (or to borrow hangers) is a great idea as well. I had bought a bunch of new velvet hangers, so all my old hangers went to the swap.
Give the option to drop off clothing before the swap. This will make it easier for the host mama to sort through everything and get it ready for the swap.
Instead of having one giant mess of clothing, create some categories. We had:
- Extra-small and small
- Large and extra-large
- Newborn to 18 months
- 18 months to 3 years
- 3 years and above
You may have more or fewer categories, depending on the types of items you receive. Sort through the items and organize them by category.
Set up the Sale
Create areas for each category above. We used the inside of the metal garage door as a makeshift hanging space — it worked perfectly.
There were card tables for children’s clothing.
And toys sat on the floor.
Get Your Swap On!
Then start swapping! It’s a lot of fun to go through and find new treasures. It also feels amazing to not only get rid of things out of your own closet, but to see them getting new life when people pick them up.
If you have any questions about our swap or swaps in general, ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them. And if you plan a swap of your own, let me know — it’s such a great way to give new life to your old things!
Special thanks to Alicia’s friend Katy for some of the photos in this post!
Here are some more organization ideas:
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