How to Host a Clothing Swap!

by Emma Tilden

It won’t be news to anyone here that given the option between spending money and getting free stuff, we’re all gonna choose free. And given how popular thrifting’s gotten in recent years, even thrift stores have started hiking up the prices.  Why would you spend money on someone else’s used clothes when you could get them straight from your friends who, we all know, have fabulous taste. Let’s be real, you guys look like a scene from Sex and the City: 2014 when you walk down the street together. 

Now you can finally snag that absolutely ADORABLE dress that your friend wore to that party last year but which is now sitting at the bottom of her closet. C’mon. Admit it. You’ve been secretly fantasizing about wearing it for months. You know it’ll look great on you. 

So go for it!  Organize a swap!  Here are some tips from The Swapaholics to help make your swap a success:

Save the Date & Send Invitations

Propose a few dates to your friends on Facebook or Twitter then pick the day and time that work best for the majority. Once you have a day and time in mind, create a free online invitation & event registration page through Facebook. Encourage your friends to spread the word and invite their friends. If you’re hosting a larger event that’s open to the public, be sure to list it in our free worldwide swap event directory at

Picking the Perfect Swappers

The bigger & more diverse your group, the greater the clothes selection and the better the chances are that there will be something for everyone and everyone will go home happy. Make sure to specify how much and which kinds of stuff you expect your guests to bring to the swap, and be clear & concise about how the swap will work. Pick your rules: the most popular are a one-for-one exchange, a fundraiser, or a free-for-all.

How to Shop Your Closet

If you haven’t worn it in a year, then chances are you’re not going to, and for good reason: it might be too tight, too big, too unflattering, or just not your style. Only keep clothes that you love and that make you feel beautiful. Let someone else love the things that are just taking up space. Bring the best of the best to the swap — the things you know someone else might get excited about — and send the rest straight to Goodwill.

Create a Theme for Your Swap

The best swaps aren’t just about the act of swapping, they’re about connecting with your friends and meeting new ones through a good old fashioned girl’s night in. Have a book swap with your book club, have a wine & cheese party with your foodie friends, a clothing swap with Champagne & cupcakes for your fashionable friends…maybe even hire someone to do mani-pedi’s while you swap beauty products with your makeup-obsessed gals. Swap, snack, have a great time just hanging out, and everyone will go home happy with some new-to-them stuff. Win, win, win!

Setting up your Swap Boutique

It’s important to make your swap feel like a classy shopping experience, not a rummage sale. Make signs to organize swap donations by type, set up racks or bins for organizing swappables, and designate a dressing room if you’re swapping clothes. Make sure there is a table for every major type of clothing (pants, t-shirts, shoes, etc.), and label them with a sign so your friends know where to stack their stuff once they start arriving. Also make sure to keep all non-swappables in a separate room, so no one goes home with your purse and coat accidentally!

Designate a Charity for Donations

If there is any clothing left over at the end of the clothing swap, call Goodwill and arrange a pick-up, or recruit a volunteer from among your swappers to bring them to the donation center at the end of the swap. If you’ve decided to have each swapper donate $1 or $2 per item swapped to a kitty, announce to the group how much money was raised along with your event thank-you and send the check immediately to the designated charity.


2-4 weeks before the swap—

– Pick your date & send your invites

– Be clear about theme, rules & what to bring

– Recruit a few volunteers to help out, then divide & conquer the organizing tasks

A few days before the swap—

– Buy, rent, or borrow a few sturdy clothing racks (estimate 1 rack for every 6 swappers)

– Get bins and hangers (or ask swappers to bring nicer clothes already hung)

– Make signs for organizing clothing and to designate dressing areas

– Create a basket of quick fashion fixes – lint rollers, sweater combs, safety pins, clothes pins, fashion tape – so ladies can evaluate tailoring and other needs before taking items home.

The day before the swap—

– Message swappers with a reminder about what to bring

– Ask swappers to bring clothing on hangers to make swap set-up easier, if possible

– Tell volunteers what time to get there & how they can help when they get there

The day of the swap—

– Set up your snack table

– Make food, pick up frozen food, or order pizza

– Buy wine/beer/cocktail fixings and non-alcoholic beverages

– Clean up all areas where clothing will be displayed, getting rid of dust, lint, and pet hair

– Hang signs for clothing areas and place bins accordingly

– Hang signs for dressing areas and set out basket of fashion fixes

– Get hangers ready and hang facing the same direction on clothing racks

– Round up a few dozen reusable bags for toting swap leftovers to Goodwill


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