The first time I hosted a clothing exchange, I had no idea how much fun it would be. Turns out, having an activity to focus on was a great way to bring all of my different groups of friends together. The best part came for weeks afterward when I would run into someone and they’d be wearing something they got at the party. They would gush about how awesome it was to get a (free!) boost to their wardrobes and that whenever they wore their new items, it would remind them of how much fun they had had that night. Just the kind of party we love to have!
BEFORE THE PARTY
Ask everyone to drop off their clothes and accessories ahead of time so that you have a chance to sort through everything and get things organized.
Order a few coat racks from your local party supply center. It’s much easier to see what’s what when items are hung on hangers rather than having everything in piles. We wanted all of the hangers to be uniform (again, so you felt you were in a boutique), and we chose to use wooden ones from IKEA.
We created little hang tags where we wrote the size of the item on the front...
... and we had a blast writing quick ideas of how to upgrade or embellish each piece on the backs. Some of the suggestions were a bit cheeky ("...save this one for the next 80s party you're invited to") but for others, we were really excited about the possibilities of adding an applique, or new buttons, or simply cinching something with a wide belt and wearing with cowboy boots.
Having a designated area for trying on clothes is critical so that no one feels uncomfortable. We were lucky enough to have a whole room to designate as the "dressing room."
You’ll also want a few smaller mirrors for trying on jewelry and other accessories. And it's all the more lovely if you have a privacy screen!
DURING THE PARTY
Give everyone plenty of time to socialize, drink their wine and look through all of the clothes and accessories. Let them know that they should try things on and make a mental note of their favorite items.
After about an hour, you’ll get everyone’s attention and ask them to draw a number. Whoever has number 1 goes first and chooses one item that's theirs to keep.
You continue through all of the guests until everyone has something. Depending on how many items you have, you may want to do several rounds of everyone choosing one item at a time. Then, when you feel everyone has something they’re excited about, you open up the rest of the boutique and it’s a free-for-all, people taking whatever else they like from what’s left over.
Oh, and to be clear, let everyone know that no matter how many items they bring, they can pretty much take as many as they like. Believe me, there will be plenty.
To keep things simple, it was strictly a wine and chocolates party. But again, to enhance the boutique experience, we decided at the last moment to have plenty of water bottles on hand and replace the labels with ones of our own.
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Karen June and I always want to give our guests a small memento from our parties. For this one, we made lavender sachets to take home with them. You might also want to have handled paper bags on hand so people can carry home their new finds.
Finally, we let everyone know ahead of time that they wouldn't have to worry about lugging home whatever wasn’t taken. We’d be donating all that was left to a local charity.
So, happy planning! We'd love to hear about your clothing swaps and any new tips you have for making the most of one!
See this and other projects (and add your own) on the Work It Wednesday link party!