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How to Plan a Back to School Fashion Swap Party

By Katherine Butler |

Maybe, in the heat of mid-summer, it’s not the worst idea to get a jump on fall shopping and think about your family’s back-to-school needs.

It seems early to be thinking of “back to school,” no? But allow me to paint a scenario. It’s the 80s. I’m a ten year old kid cooking in the July humidity of South Jersey. We’re walking through the store, and I see pink corduroy jeans (with embroidery!) that I HAVE TO HAVE. Did I get them? No. But I wanted. Kids want what they want, even if it means wanting something that could result in an instant heat stroke.

So maybe, in the heat of mid-summer, it’s not the worst idea to get a jump on fall shopping and think about your family’s back-to-school needs. This year, think about planning a fashion swap party. It’s a fantastic way to save money, recycle your clothes, and clean out your closets. And here are some quick and easy steps to create a fun way to do it for your family and friends.

First, invite your guests. Use Evite or set up a Facebook event to keep things paper-free. For your new-to-swapping friends, explain that a fashion swap party is when everyone brings their neglected clothes and accessories to a gathering for exchange. Some people can bring one items, others can bring most of their closets. Accessories, shoes, gym clothes, book bags, handbags and more are welcome. The spirit of the day is sharing, so excess is better!

If you’re planning a “back to dorm” party, encourage your friends to bring unused makeup and jewelry. For “back to school,” be sure to mention that parents (okay, mostly moms) are welcome to bring their own items to swap. Because what frugal mum wouldn’t want to pick up a “new” handbag along with a nice part of jeans for their kid? Also, be sure to relay to everyone to bring up-to-date clothing in good condition. (No pink corduroys from the 1980s unless they have been hermetically sealed.) Kids can get into the spirit of recycling by bringing costumes to trade.

Set up a fitting room area with ample mirrors. Not everyone will want to try on clothes in front of others, particularly if both sexes are attending. Plan snacks and fun music for all ages for the event. This may result in a playlist that includes Justin Bieber. Its okay, I promise.

When your guests begin to arrive, be sure to sort their items into piles. Book bags in one, girl’s tops in another, unisex gym clothes in another, and so on. If you have a lot of items, think about separating them according to size.

It’s time to swap! Some party planners suggest that you all draw numbers, while each person selects an item when their number is drawn. Others suggest a free-for-all and a friendly game of rock-paper-scissors or flipping a coin to resolve disputes.

And what to do with any leftovers? If people want to leave their unclaimed goods behind, a simple trip to Goodwill or your local charity can do the trick. You may want to consider donating them to a local women’s shelter – and here’s a great national resource to help you find one. Happy swapping!

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  • Hana A. 8 months ago
    And don't forget hand-me-downs!
    The majority of my clothing growing up was my older sister's. But I was cool with that since I liked most of the things that she wore. :)