Swap shops have been sweeping the nation and apparently everyone has been swapping rather than shopping. Having heard of the concept for the first time a few months ago, I decided to try and hold one myself. So here's my guide on how to swap shop:
1. Set a date and invite all your friends, neighbours, relatives (even strange aunty Betty), classmates, colleagues etc. over to your house. The bigger the crowd, the more fun! There's only one condition; they have to bring at least two old items of clothing they no longer wear... (it turns out, most people will bring way more!).
If they are reluctant to come, tempt them with gorgeous treats and coffee! Me being me, there were lots of chocolate goodies going round at my swap shop. My wonderful mother-in-law was so good to provide us with gorgeous home-made chocolate truffles. Another real success were my strawberries dipped in chocolate. Light and delicious, they are incredibly easy to make!
|The gorgeous spread at my Coffee, Cakes and Clothes swap shop|
2. Before your guests arrive, set up the rooms and decorate! It's a good idea to get yourself some clothes hangers and rails... we ran out of hanging space very quickly. If you fancied it, you could give your swap shop a theme and decorate accordingly. I tried to create a bit of a vintage-tea-party-feel at mine by using my mother-in-law's good china and tying lace ribbons randomly to things. I also made these size signs... however, organizing the clothes into sizes proved a rather impossible endeavour.
3. Do it for a good cause! I decided to host my swap shop as a fundraiser for Hand of Hope, a small charity that organizes camps and fun events for orphan children in the Czech Republic. At some swap shops, there's a set entry fee. I decided to go with a suggested donation of €10, figuring that depending on how much people got out of it, they may want to give more or less accordingly.
|All the clothes lovingly displayed. Top right: my donation box served on a silver platter|
4. As your guests trickle in, lay out and arrange the clothes they brought while they have a chat and a cup of tea. At the beginning of the swap shop, your guests can have a look around, scope out the goodies and try on some things, but they're not allowed to take anything yet! As you can see, it was all very civilized... at the start at least.
5. Then after a certain period of time (I waited for about an hour), you as the host have to give some kind of signal - anything from a bell to a horn to shouting really loudly will do - and let the swapping begin! Basically, your guests are then free to grab anything on offer that they like. NOTE: its a good idea to hide anything belonging to your household and wardrobe that you were wanting to keep! Believe me, at this point, the claws can come out. Things at my swap shop definitely got rather heated :).
|Hunting for that thing you'd seen just a second ago...|
We offered up some of the bedrooms as changing rooms, but most girls just tried things on there and then... there was no time to run upstairs, obviously.
6. Finally, once your guests have waddled off satisfied, happily cradling piles of new found treasures in their arms, the only thing that's left for you to do is to clean up and count the money. It was quite an epic clean-up to be fair... (I now know how shop assistants in Primark must feel) but when I sat down with a glass of wine and opened my donations box, I found that we had raised over €150 for Hands of Hope! Not bad eh! Overall the event was a huge success, tons of fun and as it doesn't take much preparation, a really easy and social way to raise some funds for charity. I will definitely host one again and I'm so chuffed with my new coat, skirt and swimsuit! The leftover clothes we simply dropped off at Oxfam.