Last December I was lucky enough to attend my first children's clothing swap. It was so much fun and so inspiring, that I decided to organize one for the playgroup that Kira belongs to in nearby Brossard. Well, actually there wasn't too much organizing to do, except to think of rules that make sense to make the event run smoothly and satisfy everyone. It was also decided that we would donate any leftover clothing to those who are less fortunate. We decided through the recommendation of one of the members, Ana Maria, to donate all leftover clothing to Le Chainon, an organization that helps women in difficulty with their basic needs (food, hygiene, healthcare, security, hygiene). Please click on the above link if you're interested in learning more about this local organization (the website is in French only).
The benefits of swapping are numerous. For one thing, this practice takes place in a lot of women's groups as well, and I've read about designer clothing swaps where women gather in the hope of being able to trade stylin' outfits so they don't feel guilty about having spent hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars on an outfit that was only worn once or twice. Of course, swapping children's clothing is for a much simpler reason: to trade clothes that will only be worn for a few months out of the year only to be outgrown and collect in a bin in our basement! My personal hope was to swap a selection of Kira's outgrown girly clothes for some new duds for my growing baby Calvin (and boy, is he ever growing by leaps and bounds! But I'll save that for another blog post.) Unfortunately for me, the majority of clothing contributions were for little girls 2 and under. The pickings were slim for boys' clothing, and so I ended up not taking anything. But this is a risk you take in a clothing swap! Sometimes you walk away with gems!
Here are some of the rules I posted for the event that you may wish to use as a guideline in case you are thinking of organizing a clothing swap for your own group or organization:
- Set a firm swap starting time so you can get things rolling promptly.
- Set the maximum number of items a person can bring (this becomes the max. they can take away of swapped clothes).
- Ask that if people have any outfits with more than one piece (for example, top & pants), to please safety pin the ensemble together so they don't get separated when people start sifting through items.
- For a kids' swap: Limit the number of onesies, sleepers and t-shirts to a minimum, as swappers tend to look more for outfits / "special" tops & bottoms. In fact, I would even suggest that if you have onesies, sleepers or t-shirts that you want to get rid of, that you package them in sets of 2 or 3 to make them more enticing!
- Set up a box of giveaway items that are not to swap, but for people to simply take if they like (and not to count in the number of items they swap). Examples: socks (in Ziploc bags - ie: don't bring one pair of socks, but if you have several, put them in a big Ziploc for someone to take); shoes (relatively clean ones only); any other accessories (such as belts, hair accessories, etc.).
- For a children's clothing swap, set the sizes (for us, it was 0 to 6X) and seasons (we said any season's clothing was okay).
- You don't HAVE to take back as many clothes as you give. If you just want to clean out your kids' closets a bit, then just bring in clothes.
- You don't have to take items only for your own kids. If you see something that might be nice for someone you know, by all means take it as part of your swap!
- Once the swap comes to a close, if you would like to take any of the items you brought back, feel free to do so (maybe you have someone in mind to give them to). Otherwise, please consider them as donations to a worthy organization.