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swap party how-to

Clear the clutter and upgrade your wardrobe without spending a penny! Beyond being economical, eco-friendly and an excuse to clean out your clutter, a swap party, also known as a ‘sip and swap’ or ‘fashion exchange party’ with friends is far more fun than flogging stuff off to strangers on Ebay. So here’s the how-to.

1. Invite friends of all sizes and shapes - and don't leave out your pregnant friends who could be looking for larger items because some pieces can be easily adapted to fit various figures by adding a belt - have one on hand so that guests can see if cinching in a roomy top or dress will make it work for them.

2. Host your swap at the end of the season when people are more likely to be having a clean out and looking for new pieces to freshen up their wardrobes. Send your invitations a month in advance to give guests time to prepare and if you're not opposed to a few extra house guests, ask friends to spread the word outside your circle to increase the pot and better everyone's chances of walking away with a good find.

3. Note a minimum and maximum number of items each person should bring, especially if you do choose to open up the guest list. This ensures there are plenty of quality things to trade but not so much stuff that it becomes overwhelming.

4. Encourage everyone to bring any unwanted clothing, regardless of the season. There are plenty of items such as t-shirts and maxis that can be worn year round.

5. Gently remind guests on the invitation that only items in good condition i.e. no holes, rips or tears, no sweat stains plus washed and ironed are welcome and reserve anything they'd be embarrassed to loan to a friend such as moth-eaten underwear for the garbage, not your swap.

6. As guests arrive, give them 1 poker chip per swap item. The chips will be their “swap money” for the party, so every time a person takes an item, collect a poker chip. This is to keep the swap fair for each person since they will be able to take as many items as they brought.

7. Include accessories such as handbags, jewellery, scarves and unopened beauty products to the mix to ensure that everyone - regardless of size - can find something.

8. It’s not a party unless you’ve got a little something to nibble and sip on so offer bite-sized appetizers that are quick to eat and less likely to end up on clothes. Its wise to serve food on skewers or with toothpicks for easy handling. Consider requesting guests bring a plate.

9. Display clothes on portable racks to give swappers the illusion they’re in a shop, creating the right mood straight away. Group garments in category areas dedicated to tops, dresses, etc. It will make the browsing process much easier and create a little bit of order. Hang up dresses and jackets, neatly fold sweaters and organize jewelry on a table to make the merchandise look more appealing.

10. Set up an off-limits area so that guests don't mistakenly take things others want to keep. Maybe offer bags or baskets for guests with their names on to keep their chosen items.

11. Designate one room for changing and have at least two full-length mirrors available.

12. If two friends have their eye on the same thing, have a model-off and let the group decide who wears it best. If you're conscious of hurt feelings, flip a coin instead.

13. Use a swap as an opportunity to take fashion risks. If you've always wanted to wear a high-waisted skirt or a geometric print, but haven't wanted to make the investment, now is your time to road test the look - for free.

14. Ask friends to put everything (including handbags and shoes) in the dryer on high heat for 10 to 20 minutes before attending. This will kill uninvited guests like bedbugs, clothing moths and lice. The majority of dry-clean-only items, provided they aren't wet, are also safe to treat in the dryer on low to moderate settings.

15. At the end of the party offer to donate the left-over clothes to your local charity. Chances are most of your guests won’t want their clothes back.

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