When I was younger my mom used to attend an annual Christmas Cookie swap. She would spend weeks coming up with the best recipes, most creative packaging and cutest decorating ideas. That seemed stressful, but as a child I thought it was all worth it because she cam home with several dozen creative Christmas cookies. Yum!
This Christmas, try a different kind of swap with your friends--a clothing swap. Have a group of girlfriends bring their unwanted clothing and accessories for all the other guests to shop from. Everyone will go home with new items for their wardrobe and have fun digging through everyone's old stuff. This can be a fun Christmas party or even a way for you and friends on a budget give each other gifts without spending any money.
The Guest List: Invite friends of all shapes and sizes. One woman's dress is another woman's top so don't worry if everyone isn't the same size. A variety of tastes and styles will also open opportunities for everyone to try something they wouldn't normally buy. Invite between 5 and 15 women to make sure you have enough merchandise to swap but not too much that it's confusing.
The Location: Clothing swaps can be held in your home, a boutique after hours, a restaurant banquet room, a community center or church, even a spa so you can pamper yourselves after the swap. If the location costs money, ask each guest to chip in. Make sure you have a couple full length mirrors, some safety pins for items in need a little repair, plenty of room to pile the clothes and a private changing space for trying on clothes.
The Goods: You can open up the swap to any and all clothing, accessories and shoes, or you can limit it. Try doing an accessory swap with just jewelry, bags, scarves, hats and the like so sizes aren't such an issue. You can also do a theme swap such as a maternity swap with all your mom and mom-to-be friends or a seasonal swap.
The Invitation: Explain the rules in the invitation. Tell guests what kinds of items they should bring. Give them plenty of notice so they have time to clean out their closet. You may want to mention who else is invited so friends can have them in mind when choosing items to bring.
The Actual Swap: Decide how display the clothing either in piles, on hangers or let everyone set up their own little shop in a corner of the room. Figure out if you want to let all the ladies loose to grab whatever they want or take turns shopping. If two people want the same item toss a coin or hold a vote (who looks better in it?) to decide who gets the item. Consider a limit on swap finds until everyone has a certain amount. That way no one leave empty handed. Have refreshments on hand (a cookie and clothing swap?!) so no one drops while they shop.
The Leftovers: You will probably have some leftovers. You can donate these to a charity store, save them for your next swap, or sell them and use the proceeds for a charity or future party.
Have you ever done a clothing swap? Do you have any tips? How would you run a swap?