How to Throw a Swapping Party

An economical, eco-friendly and fun way to clean out your closet.

The New Year marks the beginning of a new cycle for many. It also presents the perfect opportunity to clean out your closet.

If you’re like most people, a closet purge usually starts with throwing all of your used or unwanted goods into a black plastic bag and ends with a drop-off at the Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Although this is an excellent way to recycle while give back, there’s another way you can recycle while also have a lot of fun: a swapping party!

If you’ve never thrown a swapping party, here’s a fool-proof way to host one in which everyone walks away happy and not a single penny changes hands:

What You Will Need

  • "Funny Money"— This is fake money. You can purchase funny money cheaply at any party store. Make sure you have $20s, $10s, $5s and $1s.
  • A bag of used items—This can include old clothes, coats, hats; jewelry, shoes; old appliances, framed photos, etc.
  • Light fare—usually finger food and drinks work nicely.

How it Works

1. It’s an auction! So if you’re hosting it at your home, you usually want to invite a minimum of five people, maximum 20. Any more than 20 people, the swap could go on for hours and hours.

2. Ask each guest to bring 10-30 items they would like to swap. When they arrive, give each guest $120 - $160 of funny money (2 X $20; 4 X $10; 6 X $5; 10 X $1)

3. In round-robin fashion, each person stands up and presents five items at a time that they would like to swap. It’s nice if they give a little background on each item (to advise people if there is a flaw and/or some fantastic detail) and then start the bid. For example: “This coat is vintage from the 1940s. I love it, but I can never find an occasion to wear it. It’s still very valuable so I’m going to start the bid at $40.”

4. If someone wants an item, they will yell out, “I’ll take the jeans jacket for $15.” If someone else also wants it, they can up the ante to $16, $17 (or more). And back and forth and so on, until there is a final sell. (I’ve had a an air purifier start at $25. With four bidders going back and forth, it finally sold for $165).

5. The kicker is, you want to bring items that are at least moderately nice and/or still useable, so that you can “sell” them for a decent price, thereby increasing your own coffer to outbid for a future item you may want.

6. Finally, be sure to set aside an extra bag for all of the items that do not sell (yes, invariably, there will be some that do not sell). These items, you can give to the Goodwill.

Friendly Warning: The game can get boisterous and competitive as people see that leather jacket, necklace, electric mixer or pair of shoes they simply must have. Watch your guests squander and spend while sharpening their sales pitches.

Swapping parties are addictive, fun, eco-friendly and an ideal way to end your year with a bang!


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