I did this once as a promotional event for my Austin organizing service business, along with a friend who owns a closet company showroom. We had a great time! But anyone can have this kind of party with any group of friends, large or small, in your home. Here's how it works:
- Invite guests to bring clothing to the party that they no longer wear but is still nice enough to share with friends. Maybe it's the wrong size, or the wrong color, or there is another reason that it just didn't work. If desired you can specify a minimum number of clothes to bring, like at least 5 items, for example. The clothing must be clean and ready to wear. Give guests a few weeks' notice so they'll have time to go through their closets and get organized for the party. Send out reminders to keep them on track for getting it done!
- Have some garment racks available for hanging clothing and tables for other items. People can bring whatever they like, including folded items, shoes, and jewelry, but hanging clothing is the easiest to manage and look through.
- Gather an assortment of boxes, extra hangers, stickers and markers available to help you sort the clothing as it arrives. Briefly organize it by type, such as sweaters, blouses, pants, and skirts, etc. Don't worry about doing it perfectly as everyone is going to be moving the clothing around quite a bit with trying on and discussing it. (Our Simple Division® Garment Organizers are perfect for creating labeled sections on a garment rack! Read about those here.)
- Provide 1-2 places for people to try on clothing in privacy. The bathroom or an unused bedroom will work, or you can use a room divider screen to provide another area.
- Provide some refreshments (wine is always good!) and you're all set. To simplify, you can ask some people to bring a few appetizers to take some of the hosting burden off you.
- Your group can decide how formal they'd like to be about rules— for example, is it a casual free-for-all, or does each person get to choose one thing, or only as many items as they brought? One good rule that is very fair is that nobody can start trying on and claiming items until everyone has arrived.
- When the party is over, leftover items get donated to Goodwill®. Everybody wins! The friends who get new clothes and have clean closets, the environment which is spared having usable clothing in the landfill, and the community who benefits from Goodwill's services to help people find work. You can even see the impact of your donations with Goodwill's Donation Impact Calculator. For example, 3 shirts/blouses = 20 minutes of job search class for someone in your community!
Two more quick ideas: You can make this a regular event and rotate hosting duties, good for a group that already meets regularly for other reasons. You can also make this work well for kids' clothing. You'd probably want to specify an event for girls' clothes and a separate event for boys' clothes, to make it simpler. Great for a moms' group! (Thanks to J. T. for inspiring this post by telling me about her moms' group swaps!)
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