Host a Holiday Swap Party

PonteSwapPartiesNow that the semester is over and we can breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t completely fail that final (or maybe you did but who cares because it’s over and you can go sleep), parties are in full swing to celebrate holidays, graduation and not having to wake up for 8 a.m. classes for a few weeks. If you’re looking for a way to give back and clean out your closet while having fun, swap parties may be your new way to have a good time.

Decide on the item type

Make it clear what you’re looking for and what can stay at home. Items should be gently-used or like those useless product samples you get when purchase your favorite mascara at Sephora.

Keep it clean

Make sure all your guests know to clean the items before the party. For beauty products, provide single-use applicators for guests to try out nail polishes or lip glosses. Pick up Clorox wipes and other sanitizing products on-hand to keep your party clean and not-so-germy. Germs are not the gifts that keep on giving.


Everything should be sorted by item type so everyone can tell exactly where everything is (at least when the party starts) and they know where to put their swap stuff. This is especially helpful for smaller objects like mini beauty products or jewelry. Cover tables in paper so you can write right on the surface what goes where.

Tag it and bag it

Give each person a shopping bag (the bigger, the better) so they can keep track of what they’re taking home. If it’s in a bag, it’s off-limits to everyone else. If your bag is full, it’s time to make some tough choices.

Be a pusher

As the host of a swap party, you will notice that people will initially grab only what they really, really want—like that gray sweater they’ve been coveting for months every time you wore it in class. But then they’ll be reluctant to grab anything else and second-guess any other thing they want. Push them to try it out even if it may not be for them. You never know: you may find your new favorite scarf that way.

Give for good

Give whatever else is left over to a local charity that will really appreciate it. Look for a shelter, organization or church that takes donations over the holiday season to help out others.

Now that you’ve avoided the dreaded gift exchange, you can step back and admire your roomy closet and know you gave back to not only people you care about but those who are in need too.

Photo by Jose Ponte

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