Swap parties have become increasingly popular with the growing shift towards sustainability. They are an eco-friendly opportunity to swap your under- or un-used goods for things you actually need. Think of it as guilt-free “shopping” in a comfortable social setting where you can also meet and bond with like-minded people. You never know what stylish treasures await you, and befriending those who will go home with your goods feels deeply gratifying too.  

With a little planning and preparation, you can host your own swap party. Here are some tips to keep things fun and fuss-free.

Create a guest list: Invite 5–10 people in your network. For your first swap, it helps to invite people who already know each other. If the purpose of your event is to meet new people, you can ask your friends to each bring a plus-one.  

Select a category: Find a common interest or need among your invitees. Clothing and accessories, children’s things, books, and home décor are always in demand. The key is to make your event inclusive—the chosen category should appeal to everyone on your guest list, and for clothing swaps, the sizing range is a factor to consider.

Decide on the number of items: Let your guests know how many items to bring. For your first swap, 5–10 items per person is a good place to start. A swap party should not be a dumping ground, so setting a concrete number ensures that no one will show up with multiple bags of stuff after clearing out their closet. The goal is for everyone to contribute thoughtfully and equally.  

Send the invites: Aim to deliver the invites at least 2 weeks before the event to give people enough time to sort through their belongings. Make sure you include the swap category, number of items, and Golden Rules.

Prepare supplies: A full-length mirror, clothing racks, hangers, display tables, reusable shopping bags, and a space for people to try things are simple conveniences that can take your swap party to the next level.  

For an added wow factor, collect all the items ahead of time and organize them by size, color, and type. Think of a retail experience you like and create a simpler version in your home so you can show the items in their best light and inspire people to see their potential.

During the event, offer light refreshments, especially finger foods that your guests can enjoy while swapping and socializing. A potluck is a nice alternative.

Establish a system of trading: Have a system of trading in place to ensure that the swaps are as equitable as possible. Whatever system you choose, remember to explain it to everyone beforehand.

One easy approach is to take turns. Determine a fair order by drawing numbers out of a hat. Alternatively, the host can hand out tokens for every item a guest donates. For example, a participant who brings 10 items will receive 10 tokens, which can then be used to “purchase” 10 items. 

Un-swapped items: Recommend charities so your guests can donate any un-swapped items. If you have time, you can offer to take the items to the charities yourself.  

Trading things you never use for what you actually need or want is a truly worthwhile experience. If you have neglected items that someone else may cherish, try hosting a swap party. You’ll be amazed at the gems that you and your friends can find in each other’s collections. 

DTM’s Golden Rules for a successful swap party:

  1. Bring only things that are in great condition.  
  2. Bring only things you would be happy to find or gift to a loved one.  
  3. Wash, polish, and steam/iron your items before the swap.
  4. Do not take more than you contribute.
  5. Feel free to barter but keep it friendly and fun.