I’m a firm believer in the “something in, something out” ethos. In other words, if I pick up a new shirt, I’ll comb my closet for a garment I haven’t worn in some time and get rid of it. If my husband comes home from with a set of (these things happen more often than you might imagine), then I’ll scour the kitchen cabinets for bowls, plates, mugs, or other servingware to replace them. I try to maintain a balance in my home of only keeping items we actually use. This extends to clothing, decor, music and more.
A very dear friend of mine who recently relocated to California used to receive whatever I was swapping out. Whenever I saw her or visited her home, I’d spy some skirt, vase or piece of furniture that I’d passed on to her. Now that she’s gone, I’ve been taking things to the thrift store or holding on to items that I know friends with very specific interests might appreciate (case in point — Hubs and I cleaned out our liquor cabinet this past week and gifted a nearby couple working in the wine and cheese world with extra wine, pint glasses and barware we didn’t need).
Instead of taking your gently worn provisions to the thrift store, giving them to one particular buddy or even hosting a yard sale, today’s “Small Measures” proposes another idea: what about hosting a design swap? While many of us have heard of clothing swaps, you can also host a get-together with friends to trade out your gently-used-but-no-longer-in-regular-rotation curtains, platters, CDs, DVDs, board games and so much more. For a few hours spent with your favorite people, you could craft a new wardrobe, update your kitchenware or add to your entertainment collection. Furthermore, you save money and cut greenhouse emissions by not buying new.
CLICK HERE for Ashley’s tips on hosting a design swap after the jump!
If this idea appeals to you, here are suggestions for hosting your own design swap:
1. Send out an e-mail invitation ( is great for this) at least two weeks in advance. If you want to make it clothing specific, indicate that. If you want to make it housewares specific, indicate that. If you decide to focus exclusively on clothing, be sure to invite a similarly sized swapper for each person in attendance. Otherwise, you could end up with all size 6s and 8s and the lone size 12s and 14s will have no one with whom to trade.
2. Ask friends to drop off their goods several days in advance so you have time to sort through everything and group it accordingly.
3. Invite no more than 10 friends. Trading can get hectic with more than 10 people, especially if they start vying for the same items (if you’re going exclusively with clothing and there’s debate over a particular item, consider having the interested parties “model off” the garment with the remaining attendees selecting who wore it best).
4. Ask each person to bring a minimum of 5 items, whether they’re clothing or housewares. Remind them that ANY textiles (clothing, rugs, bedding or beyond) must be recently washed and thoroughly dried.
5. Ask friends to bring empty bags or boxes — depending on whether you’re swapping clothing or housewares — for carrying home their newly acquired goods.
6. Provide some light snacks and beverages. Friends can nibble and imbibe while hashing out who gets what.
7. At the end of the event, have friends help you bag or box remaining items and transport them to the local thrift store for donation.
8. Plan a recurring design swap at another friend’s home to occur several months later (after the holiday season is an especially good time, as folks end up with items that might suit someone else better, to put it tactfully!).
Have you ever hosted a clothing or other design swap? I’d love to hear any tried-and-true tips for success you’ve learned along the way. In the meantime, hang on to your gently used wares and gather a gaggle of friends that will absolutely treasure your trash! —
*While we’re talking about ways to cut carbon emissions and conserve greenhouse gases, I thought I’d mention the “10-10-10” Global Work Parties occurring internationally this coming Sunday. You can read more about it on , but the gist is to become involved in some community project that addresses global warming. A design swap dovetails perfectly with this idea. Use to find events in your area.