clothing swap

photo by dearanxiety

Swap parties have regained popularity because of the economy. Many people don't have a lot of money to throw parties, and if they do, maybe their friends don't. It works well whether you're going through a tough time or not, and no one has to know if you are. It's a great way to get together for a home party without having to sell or buy anything. It saves money and is eco-friendly, too. People are putting a modern twist on it. Here's how.

GREEN AND FRUGAL PARTY: Guests make homemade cleaners, such as laundry soap or fun kid recipes, such as homemade play dough or finger paint. One reader, Lori in Illinois, shares: "Bring all of those extra, unused (greeting) cards from years past and exchange them. Everyone gets new cards. Each person gets to take home as many cards as they bring. Suggest they try to bring a total of 25 cards. Everyone puts them in a box when they enter. Pass the box around while you have coffee. Let everyone choose five, and pass it around until all the cards are gone. You can have a craft exchange, too. Have each guest makes five of their favorite crafts. At the exchange, everyone gets one craft from each person. Now all of you have just done some of your gift shopping for the year."

ORGANIZING PARTY: Everyone helps the hostess organize closets or the playroom, for example, and the guest "helpers" can divvy up any castoffs. The idea isn't to get something. You simply get together with friends, have some snacks, catch up, help out and have fun. It's a great excuse to rent a chick flick, too.

DVDS, CDS, BOOKS AND GAMES SWAP: You might have these items sitting around collecting dust. They often have poor trade-in or resale value, so a swap party makes perfect sense. Get rid of these items you don't want, need or use and exchange for items you do.

CLOTHING SWAP: With some women being let go from high-profile jobs and seeking new employment, and other women who were stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce, they're able to swap business attire and casual clothing without spending a dime. In some situations, fashionistas share high-end accessories and clothing, and the venue might be a salon or restaurant. Another reader, Kellie in New Jersey, shares: "We've had swap parties with formalwear! Many of my friends are all around the same size, and one year after the summer round of weddings and parties, we got together and swapped. Most of our outfits were $200 each, and you can only wear a formal so many times. This way, they had a whole new life!" For others, it's simply because they've lost or gained weight, want to save money or just for frugal fun. They are held at the host's home, library or church. Additional swap-party ideas include plants, seeds and perennials, baby gear and toys, budget recipes, coupons and home decor.

PLAN IT: You should have criteria such as how many items each guest brings and in what order guests can exchange their items. For example, you can draw names from a hat. Categorize items according to value, and do a one-for-one exchange. If a guest brings more expensive items to exchange, she can swap for more expensive items someone else brought. And if there are two people interested in a single item, you can do a random drawing to decide who gets it, or have an auction with proceeds going to charity. All items brought to the party should be in good condition because the leftovers are often donated to charity, too.