Have you ever been to a clothing exchange? Aren’t they awesome? My friends and I used to trade clothes in high school and I even remember a giant clothing exchange that our dorm floor did in college! I just had one last night for our Young Women’s Youth Group. I’m excited to give you some tips for How to Host a Clothing Exchange. NOTE: Sorry the photos are terrible because of the rush of the activity!
1. Gather the goods.
We put an announcement in our church bulletin a about a month before we planned on having our event asking for clothes, accessories, purses, bags, scarves, shoes, craft supplies, and home decor. By including all of these categories, it help ensure that EVERYONE would find something that worked for them. I also emailed a few specific ladies that I thought might have clothes that the girls would like and that they were probably already cleaning out anyway. We also explained the premise to the girls and asked them to clean out their closets as well. Everyone brought their old stuff to my house or to the church the night of the swap.
2. Set it up.
I searched for as many “merchandising” pieces of furniture as I could throughout our church building. While setting it up took 45+ minutes, the stuff that was well merchandised definitely went first, so bring extra hangers and get as much hanging as possible.
- I brought in two clothing racks that were in the foyers and hung up jackets, sweaters and sweatshirts on one. The other held dresses and blouses.
- Hymn book carts were emptied and used for shoes on one side and jewelry, scarves, wallets and other accessories on the other side.
- Small tables held household accessories, decor and crafting supplies.
- It’s hard to tell here, but two kitchen carts were brought in and loaded with jeans, pants, shorts, skirts and athletic clothes on one, while the other held folded T’s and PJs.
3. Layout the Rules.
The girls gathered in a large side room and I came an announced our rules.
- We divided the girls into 3 groups of 9-10 girls each.
- Each group could come have a “preview” and see what was available for about 2 minutes.
- Then group 1 had five minutes to select one item, followed by group 2 and 3. Then to make it fair group 3, 2, and 1.
- After each group had chosen two items we did a “FREE for ALL”. Everyone was invited back to take anything and as much as they wanted. I gave them each a grocery bag and they could fill as many as they wanted.
4. Let the Games Begin
As the host, it is important to keep the girls moving through and finding items or you’ll be there all night. As they take items it is your job to keep folding, hanging, and setting up the stuff so that it looks the best (I really think some of the girls didn’t even pick up an item if it had something else on top of it so the more you can rotate it around, the better chance it has of being taken). A gathering activity is also a great idea for the girls that are NOT in the “shop” at any given moment. Some of the other leaders brought board games like “Headbands” or Pictionary to keep their attention.
5. Clean Up and Donate
After everyone has as much stuff as they can carry home it’s time for a quick clean up. Put back all of the clothing racks, tables, and bookshelves. Have a few of the leaders and girls bag up all the remaining clothes, decor and such and put it in the back of your van/car whatever. Drive it to your local DI or Thrift Shop and donate it to charity!
This activity was a huge success! We had over 80% of our girls attend and they ALL took home loads of stuff that was NEW-to-them. This was our second annual clothing exchange so our girls are starting to get the hang of it! It is a great way to clean out their closets, recycle clothing and accessories, take home something fabulous and new, and give to charity! I’m sure we will be doing it again soon!