Why is it that someone else’s junk looks better than your junk? Maybe we’re tired of our extra clutter, and the neighbor is equally tired of hers. Why not host a friendly Swap Party? It’s a chance to swap your stuff with your friends, socialize and clean out your closet a bit.

Yard sales are hard work, and sometimes the pay-off doesn’t justify the time spent tagging, setting up and tearing down the sale, not to mention the 2 days sitting waiting for customers. Was it really worth the $75 you made? A swap party is economical, environmentally friendly because you’re reusing your items and much more fun.

Invite your friends, neighbors, and coworkers with similar tastes in style. I would suggest around 10 people for variety. For even more cost savings, send an Evite, a free online invitation service, at least two weeks in advance to give your guests time to gather their things.

Have even more fun by serving delicious snacks. Ask everyone to bring one food item to share. Make them easy finger food so you can eat and shop at the same time.

What if one person brings a luxurious sweater and fine china, and another a Walmart mark-down? You’ll need to maintain order by setting some rules. We want fun, not chaos, and hard feelings.


  • Set guidelines about what’s worthy of swapping. Ask your friends to bring clean items in gently used condition. That means no tears, stains, or missing pieces. Remind your friends to bring an extra reusable tote to carry items home. Or set a dollar value minimum.
  • Suggest a variety of goods, not just clothes. Clothes work only if all your friends are of the same size. I know my friends are all different sizes.
  • Purchase supplies: Use color-coded stickers to claim desired items. Have hangers and poster board on hand too.
  • Pre-shop: Allow time to look over the items before the swapping starts. Make sure all the items are spread out and can be easily viewed.

Set some party rules: Here are a few swapping strategies to get you started. Choose one only, and explain the rules in your invitation and again at the start of the party.

  1. Take turns shopping: Remember what your teacher always said? “Take turns.” Draw straws or numbers on who goes first. Limit the number of items to 1-3 per turn to keep it fair and moving fast.
  2. Use tokens: The host hands out poker chips for every item the guest donates. If a person brings 10 things, she gets 10 tokens and can purchase 10 items.
  3. Keep the numbers even: Ask everybody to bring 5 items, for example, and everyone goes home with the same number of items that they donated.