Create your guest list
istock/ThinglassWhile it might seem fun to invite everyone you know to your clothing swap, the most successful parties are the ones with guests of similar sizes. For instance, if the majority of your guests wear sizes 10 to 12, then anyone outside of that range will likely not be able to participate in the swap, or they'll feel left out. If you really want your event to be a swapping extravaganza, then you'll need to make sure you have at least two people per clothing size, so everyone leaves with something new. Or for a workaround, keep it focused on accessories so everyone can leave with something.
Plan for some prep time
istock/vuk8691"For best results host a clothing swap at the beginning of a new season when people tend to be clearing out the old to make room for the new," Marian Bell, lifestyle expert told Live Well Today Network. And give invitees one month's notice, so they have time to clean out and sort through their closets.
Set some rules
istock/CasarsaGuruFirst, you'll want to ensure that each guest is aware of the minimum and the maximum number of items (try five to ten) they should bring to the swap. Second, you'll want to establish some guidelines for the quality of clothing being exchanged. Generally, garments should be new or gently used, clean, and free from stains, rips, or tears. Use these tips to help you spot quality, well-made clothing during the swap.
Create an appealing "shop"
istock/nito100Clothing displays are crucial for a stylish clothing swap. "This whole event is so much more fun when the space you're using transforms into a 'store,'" writes Ashley Wood, about her swap experience on Cameron Diaz's blog, Our Body Book. "I set up some clothing racks for the dresses, tops, and jackets, and then folded the pants, skirts, and bathing suits and laid them on the table. Browsing through everyoneʼs clothes was so much fun!"
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Designate an area as a fitting room
istock/megafloppNot everyone is comfortable taking off their clothes in a room full of friends, much less strangers. To avoid this awkward situation, designate a room in your house as a fitting room so people can try on clothes with privacy. If your place is too small to convert an entire room into a makeshift fitting room, one source recommends having attendees wear bathing suits under their clothes to make the environment more comfortable. Hosting a large swap? Check with places like community centers, churches, or schools to see if you could rent space for your swap.
Don't forget the mirrors
istock/stevecoleimagesSo, you have the perfect place to host your clothing swap, but did you remember to bring the mirrors? As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to have at least two full-length mirrors in each try-on area. If you don't have enough mirrors of your own, enlist the help of your friends to bring some on the day of the event. Guests are more likely to join in and enjoy the process of trading when they can see what the clothes look like on them.
Decide on a shopping system
istock/Eva-KatalinHow do you prevent your swap from turning chaotic? Decide on an ordered, shopping system to keep the peace. Wood describes this helpful idea in her blog post: "In order to make sure we were playing fair and everyone got an equal amount of turns to pick clothes, we drew cards. It was done randomly and with each turn, we were allowed to choose a maximum of three items. After we all enjoyed three solo trips to the racks, we went shopping together." Other options to choose a fair and random order include drawing straws, rolling dice, or drawing numbers.
Take a fashion risk
istock/Elizaveta-KorobkovaNow is a guilt-free time to try something you may not normally wear. Since you're swapping instead of buying, step out of your comfort zone and play with patterns, prints, shapes, and textures for a whole new look. Not sure if something is right for you? Ask your friends to weigh in on whether a particular piece should make it's way to your closet. In the end, if you wind up not wearing it, you can always bring it to the next swap. Check out 13 outfits tricks that will make you look younger instantly.
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Pick a charity
istock/sirastockAt the end of the event, any unclaimed clothing can be donated to a charity of your choice (or the group's choice). Since all the clothing at the swap is in good condition, these quality items will be very beneficial to your local charity, and guests can feel good about the clothes they brought even if a piece didn't find an immediate home in someone else's closet. (Find out the nine things thrift stores really don't want from you.)