If you have never been to a swap you are seriously missing out! I have been attending and now hosting swaps for over 2 years and can honestly say, I’m addicted. Who doesn’t like to purge items from your closet that no longer fit, or you no longer wear and leave with new-to-you FREE clothing?!
Those who have never attended a swap often ask, “Do you swap item for item?” “Does it cost anything?” “Are things separated by size?”
Swaps I previously attended, and those I currently host are done all sorts of ways, so I’ll share how things are run at one of my swaps.
1. Location- I host clothing swaps from my home. This cuts down on costs as well as my time. If you choose to host at a 3rd party location like a hall, you might need to charge an entrance fee to cover costs.
2. Guests- I invite friends via Facebook Event Invites, and allow them to invite their friends. Since the swap is in my home, I don’t like for there to be more than 1 degree of separation between me and my fellow swappers. If you host at a 3rd party location, you can decide how many guest’s and put a cap on how many can attend. I have hosted as many as 68 swappers, and as few as 48.
3. Invitation- Be specific in your invite. List which items you wish to swap. Some swaps are for children’s clothing only, while others include clothing, toys and household items for the whole family. I specify clothing must be “nice enough to lend to a friend.” This means freshly laundered with no holes, stains, missing buttons, or worn out items. We do not swap item for item. You bring as much as you have, and take as much as you’d like. Not all swaps have minimums, but I set mine at 20 items.
4. Drop-offs- I give my guest’s a full month to drop off their items to me as I prepare for the swap. I dedicate the guest room of my home to organizing and inspecting clothing as it comes in. The cut off to drop off your items is usually 2-4 days prior to the swap date. I keep a spreadsheet with RSVP’s and highlight when someone drops off their items.
5. Reminders- As the swap date gets closer, I remind all guests in the event invite about the date/time and parking. I request for guests to carpool if possible. I remind guests to bring a bag to haul their new-to-them clothes home. I ask for volunteers to help with parking, hand out name tags, and clean up after the swap. I ask for hanger donations as well as tables and clothing racks to borrow.
6. Organize- 1 or 2 days prior to the swap, I set up all tables and clothing racks throughout my entire downstairs. I separate clothing by type, but not size. All jeans and pants are together on a table and all dresses are hung. Tops are hung and separated by sleeveless, short sleeves, long, etc. I have separate racks for maternity, plus-sized, jackets and coats, etc. I usually have over 1,000 items on hangers at my swaps. I haven’t dared to count items not hanging. I am very particular about organization. I have been to swaps that were not so organized or clean, and this is one of the main reasons I decided to start hosting my own.
7. Swap Day- My swap invitation is for 7:00pm. If you arrive up to 20 minutes early, you may “preview” aka “look but don’t touch” the items. At 7:00pm sharp I corral everyone into the same room to welcome them, and make some announcements.
Some things I bring up are dressing/ changing room locations. I kindly ask that no one re-sells items from the swap and ask for hangers to be placed in bins found around each room. My announcements usually take about 10-15 minutes and then it’s time to swap. When I say, “Go!” you will see a mad dash throughout my house.
Some ladies run directly to the shoes, while others to jewelry and accessories. Some come strictly for children’s clothes or maternity clothes. There really is something to be found for everyone! There is no limit to what you can take. In the past 2+ years I have never seen a fight or argument over an item.
8. Clean up- I have been blessed with nice friends that come and help clean the next day. It really takes a lot of work to box up and separate the clothing once more, and return tables and racks to those who lent them. I donate all leftover items to local charities and ministries.
If you have any questions about hosting a swap, ask below in the comments.