How to Host a Swap Party

One Gal's Trash may be Another's Treasure! That is the premise of a Swap Party.  All of the items are fair game, so you can trade & barter clothes to your friends while snagging some new stuff to breathe new life into your closet. While you might be tired of your blue suede shoes, they might be just what one of your friends have been looking for.  Why not swap it for a slightly used Red handbag. I've been hosting swap parties since 2013 and we only swap Ladies' clothing and accessories.  The party atmosphere is similar to Ladies night with cocktails and is for adult's only. We do not allow children. But, many women have great swap parties for children's clothing, toys and household items too.  It's certainly up to you and your circle of friends.  I call this Shopping with No money or Regrets! and you may meet new Friends.
Sounds like thrifting?  Not. There is no exchange of money and you get to choose which stylish friends to attend. Chances are, they’ll love the idea of mixing it up with a few new items. Of course, the way you present the idea will have a huge effect on how your friends receive it. I send out a party invite to all my friends and request that they forward it to others with the stipulation that they RSVP a week before the party. Then, text them days before with a reminder.
You should make the party sound chic and exciting and you’ll have a good group of people on hand. Include friends of all sizes and shapes - and don't leave out your pregnant friends who could be looking for larger items & some Post pregnancy outfits. Try to have at least 2 friends of a particular size, so everyone will have stuff to exchange. Then, determine how much, and in what condition, each person should bring. For example: in our clothing swap we ask each participant to bring at least 8 ladies clothing or accessory items. Most ladies will welcome the chance to upcycle their things, and will bring even more than requested. You’ll also want to specify a certain quality level: Clothing should be New or PreLoved;  Shoes & handbags should be New or Slightly Used;  Jewelry or scarves should be in good condition.

Here's the Checklist:
  • Decide on what you are going to Swap. (clothing, toys, household goods, etc.)
  • Select the party location.
  • Get your stuff together and jot down the names to invite. (Choose 8 or more)
  • Call the friends to suggest a party date.
  • Decide on the quality of items to be included.
  • Prepare the invitations & send them out.
  • Have on hand a clothes rack and hangers for clothing.
  • Get the tokens or tickets to use.
  • Have a table ready for folded items.
  • Designate a fitting room/bathroom with a large mirror.
  • Decide on the drinks/snacks.
Like every thing else, we must have structure or things could go south. Therefore, you need to establish some Rules to guarantee a successful party. The first item on My party Rules is -  "Bring the quality of items you would want to receive". This is the key to a successful party. If the item is old, worn, not been in style since 1960, is not trendy or stylish then no one is going to want it. Also, any item someone brings to the party must be free of Regrets.  I always ask. . Are you sure you want to swap that?
  • No damaged items accepted.
  • Ask your guests to mark their items just in case the item is not swapped. The owner must take it home.
  • Adults only, no children allowed. We are here to have a good time. No one wants to have to entertain the kids.
  • Have tokens or tickets to use as money. I use plastic coins from the party store or ticket stubs.
  • All items in trade are tagged according to quality and price by the Host. This is undisputed.
  • New/Unused with Tag of $50 or more the owner gets 3 tokens/tickets
  • New/Unused with Tag $25 - $50 owner gets 2 tokens/tickets
  • All other items New or Used is 1 token/ticket
  • Guests draw numbers. Number 1 goes first, then 2, 3 etc.
  • Guest #1 has to spend her tokens/tickets to get only 2 items at a time. So that others will have a chance.
  • Once all the numbers are called, we have a second round and #1 gets to select again.
  • When everyone has spent their tokens/tickets, then the Trade/Barter session begins.
Also on my list of Rules I have this statement. . . "Be courteous and conscientious of others. No one should be grabbing or hoarding items, be rude or cut off people and rush to collect the top picks! The object of this swap is not to get as much as you can, but to get what suits your taste and size. If you don’t get something you want – let it go. The end result should be to clean out your closets - not pack them with even more stuff".  And always, always have a Disclaimer.

This is my Disclaimer:   "There are no guarantees, stated or implied, that anyone will receive anything at a swap in exchange for the items they bring.  Also, there is no guarantee that you will find something you like and want to take in exchange for what you brought".  Note: These are my rules and they may not work for everyone. Feel free to use them and do not allow the guests to price their own items, this is a rule that will determine the flow of your party.
Now that you have your rules written, you’ll need to decide how the swap works. I suggest that people take turns “shopping,” and if so, how will you decide in what order (drawing numbers is always a fair solution)?  Allow each guest time to unload her things and the Host should price them accordingly. This is the time I spend with each guest, give them the tokens/tickets for each item. Explain the Rules to the newcomers and offer them a cocktail. Once the mingling begins, everyone is encouraged to preview all the items. No try-on's are allowed at this time. During the shopping they are allowed to try-on the item they want. Modeling is encouraged and the wanna-be-stylists can get in on the action.  As everyone chooses their quota of items, the structure can relax a little and you can invite guests to choose a few more things if there’s enough. Be sure to ask participants to bring their own reusable bags to tote home their treasures. 
If you want, you can choose to donate the leftovers to charitable organizations. Been there done that and not anymore, it can be burdensome. So, choose wisely. Everyone can use a swap as an opportunity to take fashion risks. If you've always wanted to wear a geometric print, but did not want to make the investment, now you can test the look - for free. If all goes well, a clothing swap might become a regular event between you and your friends. Hold one at the beginning of a season to punch up your wardrobe without emptying your wallet. Your friends will love the chance to mingle, and to 
snag cute clothes and accessories for free. Happy Swapping!