How to Host a Clothing Swap Party

Around 30% of the clothing I own I’ve gotten at clothing swaps. I used to both host and attend them regularly, especially in my 20’s when I was living on less than $20,000 a year.

Clothing swaps are also sustainable superheros, helping keep clothing out of the landfill or the incinerator. According to the EPA, Americans create 16 million tons of textile waste a year. A year! That’s people just throwing clothing into the trash.

Clothing swaps are great ways to get new to you clothing for free, spend time with friends, and keep clothing from becoming trash. I especially like doing them at the start of a new season. So let’s explore how to host the best clothing swap ever!

What is a Clothing Swap Party?

A clothing swap is when several people get together and bring their gently used clothing they no longer like or wear, and they trade for someone else’s gently used clothing!

It’s perfect for those pants that are a size too small but in great shape, or that sweater that was a gift and you just don’t love the color of. These clothes are in good shape, but they’re not for *you* personally. Clothing swaps are sustainable ways to give them new life.

Americans spent an average of $1,945 on clothing in 2022. If you want to spend less on clothes and save more money, a clothing swap is a great way to cut back and still look cute. Clothes tend to be an area of spending that can spiral, so knowing your clothing budget is important to actually save more money.

I find it helpful to use Empower, a free budget software, to track my spending so I can see category by category how much I’m spending. Here’s a screenshot of some of my clothing spending.

A clothing swap is a chance for someone else to love them and for you to get clothing you love!

How to Host a Clothing Swap Party

Don’t worry, clothing swaps are pretty chill events. This isn’t like planning a friend vacation or a wedding!

The best clothing swaps have some structure to them. I’ve found that people like when things are organized because it helps them really relax into enjoying the swap.

-Sort the clothing. As people arrive and have their clothes have them put like clothes with like. For example, all the shirts should go on the couch, and all the pants should go on the kitchen table. Sorting the clothing makes it easier for people to look through the clothes; if someone only wants new dresses they can completely avoid the pants section.

-If possible, hang things up! Dresses, for example, will be easier to try on and sort through if you can hang them. If you have a free standing clothing rack now is the time to break it out. Otherwise, you can hang clothes over doors and chairs.

-Have everyone start look at the same time. Don’t let anyone cut the line and start going through clothing before other people. This can make people jealous or resentful.

-Have some light drinks and snacks. I’ve found people will hang around after the actual swapping is over, and it’s nice to have light refreshments.

And that’s pretty much it! The most important part is to organize the clothing and have everyone start looking at the same time. That’s the bulk of the swap in itself!

What to Avoid When Hosting a Clothing Swap

There are some things to totally avoid when you host a clothing swap.

-Don’t let the extra clothing linger! Either ask people to take back their clothes that didn’t get picked, or bundle them up right away and get them to a donation center. Otherwise your house will be a mess for days to come.

-Don’t feel bad about providing some guidance or structure. In all my swaps, I have noticed people like when there is structure in place. If two people want the same thing, there should be a third person to say “hey let’s flip a coin.” People actually do better when there is someone “in charge” than if everyone is loosey-goosey and there are no rules.

Learning how to host a clothing swap party is pretty easy and swaps are things you can repeat every year! I find them to be a great low cost way to see friends and get new clothes.

Let me know if you have any tips for how to host a clothing swap party in the comments!

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