I’m totally paralyzed. Do you ever get so overwhelmed by all you have to do that you just freeze and do nothing? I’ve felt like that all week, which is why it’s taken me forever to sit down and get to this blog. But this is the calm before the storm because tomorrow is my big swap party. I’m expecting about 2 dozen women … and Part-Time Justin. There’s going to be stuff EVERYWHERE. There already is, and it’s all mine! I’ve swept through my closets and drawers half a dozen times, convincing myself each time to part with another something or seven. I’ll probably do a couple more sweeps before I force myself to stop and clean the bathrooms for company — because there IS a difference between cleaning the bathrooms for family and cleaning the bathrooms for company. But then I just have to let go, pour myself a mimosa and let it all unfold.
But before I get to all that, I thought I’d give you my tips for a successful swap party!
I’m guessing that it all started about 7 years ago. I took a huge load of my daughter Emma Kelly’s never- or barely-been-worn clothes up to a children’s consignment shop and basically received pennies in return. I decided I had plenty of girlfriends with daughters who I’d much rather see enjoying these things than go through that again, so I decided to host a party where we could all swap the clothes and shoes and toys our children no longer loved or used. But then, we ladies decided that we, too, had clothes and shoes just taking up precious space in our closets. I’m talking clothes we bought on sale and never wore…clothes we wore 10 pounds ago we keep promising ourselves we’ll get back into…shoes we bought for a special occasion and ended up taking off after an hour because our toes felt like they were bleeding…So we added all our stuff into the swapping mix. Eventually, people started bringing old books and frames and glasses and lamps and artwork and small appliances…Basically, it became a huge garage sale where no money was ever exchanged. You just took what you wanted and whatever wasn’t swapped was donated to charity.
If you’ve never done a swap party before, I’d suggest starting with a small group of friends. If you’re brave enough to have them bring every single thing they want out of their houses, then go for it. But if the very thought of all that stuff everywhere is giving you anxiety, you could try limiting what everyone brings to just clothes, shoes and accessories. Or maybe you could put a limit of 10 items per person. Now, with my group, it’s just a free-for-all. Everybody digs in and takes what they’ve want. In all my swaps, I’ve never had anybody get into a battle over who gets what. What always ends up happening, though, is this….
After everybody has been through all the clothes, we all sit down while my friend Shanda starts pulling out the things that haven’t been chosen and then tries to “sell” it. She’ll pull out something and almost every time, somebody will say, “How did I miss that?? I want it!” Or she’ll insist somebody try on a dress and they end up falling in love with it. It really is one of the most fun parts of the night.
At the end of the night, whatever isn’t swapped is boxed up, and a charity truck will come by the next day to take it all away.
Now, here are a few things I’ve learned from all my swapping:
* Ask everyone to bring their favorite bottle and nibble. People will take more when they’re tipsy and fed!
* Clothing racks are pretty much a must. I’ve invested in a couple, but I also borrow from girlfriends. It’s just easier to go through things that are hanging.
* If you’re using clothing racks, ask your friends to bring their clothes on hangers. I try to save dry cleaning hangers throughout the year just for swap parties, but I never have enough on my own.
* Try to organize like items. Have one corner designated for children’s toys and games, another for home decor, another for jewelry and accessories, another for kitchen and bar items….etc.
* Have boxes and bags for people to use for their “shopping.” And once they have a good load, have them take it out to their cars. You want that stuff out of the house so you can breathe.
* If you don’t want to haul all the unswapped stuff to charity yourself, call at least two weeks prior to schedule a pickup for the day after your party. You just want that stuff GONE.
I think that’s pretty much it! I’ll try to Facebook Live a little of the swap party on Sunday so you can get idea of how crazy it can get. And now it’s time for me to get up and go through my closet one more time!!