Wanna Swap? How to Host a Clothing Swap PartyBy: Jacqueline Thompson Graves
There are lots of ways to swap clothes with people. After researching (i.e. reading everyone's blogs on the web for eleven days) how gals were handling their clothing swaps, this is what I advise:
East Coast Version:
The East Coast Version of a Clothing Swap is a true party, complete with invitations and refreshments. They call it "east coast", but I think it really reflects the hospitality of the South. Basically here is how it goes.
- Make an invitation list. Try to keep in mind people's sizes and not have too much variation. (It won't do to invite one size 4, even if she is your best friend.) Number of guests suggested is 6 to 15, but that is up to you and your amount of space for spreading out garments and trying on. Make it clear if you want them to bring just clothes or also bring shoes and other accessories (jewelry, purses, etc.).
- Decide if you want to have refreshments. (Most do.) If so, hostesses handle this one of two ways. Some provide everything and collect $5 or so from each guest to cover food and wine/beverages. Others ask each guest to bring a plate of snacks and a bottle of wine or other beverage.
- Send out invitations at least two weeks in advance. Be sure to include the information about refreshments.
- You will need one big room to lay out all the clothes everyone brings. It is a good thing if you can borrow racks or rig up a way to hang the items. If not, just lay them on the bed and across furniture. Try to have two full length mirrors in this room. Some of your guests will not mind stripping down to their undies and trying on in front of each other. Others will be more modest and want a private place to change. Have two or three bedrooms available nearby and a bathroom. Preferably move all your family out of the house (or tucked safely away somewhere) for the evening.
- Some suggest you have tickets to hand out. Each person gets a corresponding number of tickets to "spend" for the number of items they bring. Then the hostess holds up an item and the guests hold up a ticket if they would like to try on that item. If more than one person wants the item, see rule #7. Others just let everyone spread out their stuff and then the guests see what they would like.
- One absolute rule: everything must be tried on before it can be taken. Anything that does not fit is then returned to the pile or rack.
- Also, you must have some way of settling it when two people would like the same garment. One way is simply to do heads or tails. Another is to have each one model the garment, then close their eyes and the other guests vote on who should have the item.
- During the evening, while the refreshments and chatting are going on, guests are free to bargain with each other if someone really wants an item someone else has taken (if the hostess wants to allow this rule).
- At the end of the evening, anything not taken is donated to charity.
- Before guests leave, appoint the next hostess for the next season's swap (unless you want to be the permanent hostess).
West Coast Version:
The West Coast Version of a Clothing Swap is pure chaos and very simple.
- Throw everyone's clothes in a big heap.
- Get whatever you want off the heap.
- Go try it on. If it fits, it's yours. If not, throw it back and keep swapping.
- Donate anything left over to charity.
There are no rules, no refreshments, no invitations, no requirements about taking as many as you bring or anything else. Whoever gets it first and gets the most, wins. Sounds like the Wild West, doesn't it? It is kind of like the After Christmas sale at Macy's!
However you go about it, I would love to hear about your Clothing Swap. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next month!