Kids grow. They seem to grow so fast that we are constantly buying new clothes so they don’t have to leave the house with their ankles and wrists showing. . Buying all these new clothes can be expensive, and usually the clothes they grow out of are in good condition, so we feel bad about tossing them.
Lots of kids live in our neighborhood, and many of them are school aged like my daughter or a little older. Because of the different age ranges, we decided to do a casual neighborhood clothes swap. Several times a year we go through our closets and put together a bag or two of clothes that are in good condition. This can include school uniforms, casual wear, shoes, and even party dresses. We put them in a sturdy paper bag and drop the bag with a note at the doorstep of a child younger or smaller. The recipient of the clothes goes through the bag and keeps whatever they like and the rest they send to charity. This approach has been very successful for several reasons:
- It’s casual; you don’t even have to be home to receive the bag or to drop it off. You can also do this at your own time. No need to stress about a closet purge if you’re not in the mood.
- Because you go through the bag on your own, you don’t feel obliged to politely accept something you don’t like. You only keep what you and your child wants.
How to make a neighborhood clothes swap work:
- Let people know what you are planning to do.
- Only put together clothing that is in good condition and age and gender appropriate for the intended recipient.
- Make sure all clothing is washed and folded nicely. Adding clothing to a paper bag or box keeps them in neat piles, compared to a jumble of clothes in a garbage bag.
- Add a note reminding the recipient what the bag is about, offering to take unwanted clothes to charity if they can’t do it themselves.
- If you are a recipient of clothes but can’t donate any to the same family due to age and/or gender difference, make sure to write a thank-you note or send over a treat.
- Keep it to clothing items; don’t add toys or books unless you specifically discussed this ahead of time. Most families don’t want more stuff to put away—clothes they can use, but toys they’ve got enough.
Have you ever organized a clothes swap for yourself or your kids? Did you keep it informal? Do you just let your closet fill up until there’s no room and you are forced to purge?