For the past few years, I’ve gotten together with friends every six months or so for a clothing exchange. Without fail, I always find a few things I love. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the clothing swap concept, and many of you have probably done it before, but I wanted to pass along how we do it… with a little nudge to host your own. It’ll be awesome.

Clothing Swap

1. Invite people. However many you want. Tell them to bring clothes and accessories they don’t want anymore, and feel free to tempt them with food and drinks.

2. Before the exchange, be sure to clear some space for piles (or, even better, hanger racks) of clothes. The more space the better, because everyone will want to crowd in and see everything. And don’t forget full-length mirrors!!

3. At the exchange, separate everyone’s stuff into categories: shirts, dresses, pants, accessories, etc. If you do this as a group, everyone gets to scope out the selection… which is fun and more fair. (If you have a smaller group, or a smaller selection of stuff (like, if you asked everyone to bring just five items), there is no need for categories and everything can be arranged together.)

4. Assign everyone a number. This can be done in order of arrival, or by drawing numbers.

5. Then the choosing begins.

Option 1: Focus everyone’s attention on one category at a time, letting everyone choose an item in their numbered order, cycling through the count until everyone has all they want. When/if things get slow, you can let more than one person go at a time. To keep things mixed up (and fair), with each category you begin, start your order with a different number. (1 starts the first time, 5 starts the second time, etc.)

Option 2: You can have everyone rotate through the categories simultaneously. (Think “classroom stations” from elementary school.) Say you have six categories and 18 people; #1 chooses the category she wants to begin at, #2 chooses hers, etc. Each category would have three people choosing from it at a time. Once selections are finished in each round, each little group rotates to the next category — everyone in one big circular movement. And on and on, until everyone has had their fill. In either case, after the first few rounds, let people take more than one piece at a time. And, feel free to put a time limit on each round!

6. Once everyone gets what they want in the initial rounds, open it up to a free-for-all. Then bag the leftovers to be donated to a local thrift store or charity.

7. Take home lots of excellent new-to-you clothes. And email me to let me me how it went! There are plenty of other approaches — by price point, with one big pile, with one big hidden pile, with general piles, etc. — but this has worked splendidly for us. Have you hosted or attended one before? How did it go?


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