» How to host a clothing swap

It’s still winter in the Nashville area and we are all getting a little stir crazy! Cue some mom time that costs nothing but time and maybe a few dollars on snacks. This weekend I hosted a clothing swap and invited moms from the school my children attend. We all have a desire to know each other better and an active event like a clothing swap is a perfect way to accomplish that!

Today I want to share a basic structure so that you can organize your own clothing swap! There is no better way to make use of what you already have and enjoy a great ladies night out.

  • 3 weeks out: Choose a date, or provide date options, and create a FB event page to send out invitations, guidelines and reminders.
  • 2 weeks out: Remind participants of date and time with a message and ask them to start dropping off items at your house for organization. It’s best to ask your friends to hang their items on metal or throw away hangers to make the process more streamlined.
  • 1 week out: Send a second reminder for friends to drop off clothes and remind them of parameters again in case it’s not still fresh in their mind.
  • 2 days out: Send one last reminder if items still need to be dropped off and give tips for making the night a smooth experience.

Before the swap:

Prepare your guests for what they should expect. Encourage them to dress in layers that include a tank and leggings so that they can easily try on clothing without doing a full change. Prepare your home to accommodate movement, try-ons and peeks in the mirror. I suggest having all bathrooms accessible and at least somewhat clean. Additionally, it’s a nice touch to put out a full-length mirror to allow your guests a place to glance at their choices in full view. As a host you will be in charge of collecting all the items and displaying them for the big night. If you can get your hands on a couple of clothing racks that’s awesome! But if not, simply using two chairs and a broom stick to set up clothing racks will work just fine! Accessories, purses and scarves can easily be displayed on a dining tables and chairs. The more you organize the sizes and styles, the smoother the selection process will be the night of the event.

During the swap:

Welcome each guest and invite them to grab a drink, let them know you will be drawing numbers to determine the order of “shopping.” Once the majority have arrived allow each guest to choose a number from a bowl and begin the shopping process. Example, if you have 15 attendees you will place numbers 1-15 in the bowl. The general flow looks like this: Guests 1, 2 and 3 begin to shop, each choosing two pieces. Once they have chosen their 2 pieces they tag the next person/number in line. As a host it’s a good idea to moderate this process or choose another friend to do this. The goal is to keep the process rotating without lag time. Why the number system? Put simply, it keeps everything fair and gives everyone equal time and opportunity to browse items without feeling pressured.

  • Getting started!
  • Browsing the items
  • 2 borrowed round clothing racks made this event so smooth!

During the swap part 2: 

Don’t forget to encourage each other and shop with each other during the event. Don’t fight the natural inclination to share opinions (That color looks awesome on you!) and give advice on a top that would suit one your guests well. Once you start doing this your guests will follow your example. This makes the experience fun, interactive and uplifting for all of your friends.

Guidelines used for clothing:

10 items per guest in good used condition
tops/shirts/sweaters of any kind
accessories such as cute jewelry, bags/purses, scarves, vests… the list goes on
workout clothing
Leggings or yoga pants/workout pants

NO jeans. Why? Think of the last time your shopped for jeans. It’s an extensive process and jeans do not have potential for universal fit. It’s best to keep jeans and fitted pants out of the mix completely.

Why is it important for guests to drop clothing BEFORE the event? 

My goal with this event was to keep it judgement free, positive and uplifting. Keeping the clothing anonymous and reminding guests NOT to comment on the clothing in a negative way keeps things on the up. Additionally, you don’t want to place additional pressure on someone worrying that they might not like or pick a friends clothing. Put simply: it keeps things uncomplicated by human emotions.

What do we do with leftover clothing?

After four to five rounds the evening will begin to slow down. At that point open the floor up for a “free for all.” Encourage your guests to all run through the racks one more time, taking anything they might like or even think another friend might enjoy. Give guests the opportunity to take back anything they might have brought. This continues to keep the selections anonymous because the free for all period is coupled with the retrieval period. Anything that is left from the night should be donated to a charity or other beneficiary of your choosing.

Have fun! Let me know if you host a clothing swap with your girlfriends! I would love to hear how it goes!


Bonus tip:

Door prizes are a fun addition! If you have friends attending that have small businesses (Monat, Rodan and Fields, Doterra… etc. etc.) ask them if they want to throw in a door prize. This gives them a chance to share a product and your guests to receive a fun bonus! My friend Anna from Lightshine Candles provided a delicious candle for our event.


About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.


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