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How to Create & Manage a Children’s Clothing Swap: Part One

Do you love to dress your children in nice, stylish clothing? Do you have a limited budget to spend on your children’s clothing? Would you like a way to cut down on the cost of buying your children’s wardrobes without sacrificing style and quality? This series is for you!

I’ve told you before that I’m part of a children’s clothing swap group in my neighborhood and I’ve been promising to tell you all about it. So today I’m going to share Part One of my How to Create & Manage a Clothing Swap. I didn’t intend for it to become a series but there was just too much information to cram into one single post. Today’s post will focus on How to Start a Children’s Clothing Swap.

Some of you might be wondering what in the world a Children’s Clothing Swap is and why it’s useful. A Children’s Clothing Swap consists of several families with children of varying ages that want to swap their children’s clothes each season in an effort to save money. Face it, kids grow fast and buying a whole new wardrobe every single season is far beyond a lot of people’s budgets these days, mine included. With 5 kids to buy clothes for it gets very expensive and this is one way that I can?soften the hit to our bank account.


When I moved into this neighborhood nearly 7 years ago there was already an active clothing swap group that was led by a neighbor. At the time I had 3 young kids- ages 9 months, 2 and 4- and she was gracious enough to invite me to join in the existing clothing swap. About 4 years ago she resigned from her position as head of the swap and asked me if I would take over running it. I accepted and set about revamping the way we were doing things. Most of the original members had already dropped out because their children had aged out of wanting to swap clothes with another kid in the neighborhood. There were only 3 families left and it was now my job to build it back up and keep the swap going.

First thing I did was find new families in our neighborhood who wanted to participate. I stalked the pool and the playground to find fresh meat. I posted notices in our neighborhood newsletter and made phone calls to the various playgroup leaders. Pretty soon I had 10 families interested in being part of the new Children’s Clothing Swap. I had the interested families fill out questionnaires with the following information:

1. Names, Ages & Gender of Children
2. Sizes of Current Clothing
3. Special Considerations (ie- pet allergies, fabric issues, etc)

{Now, if you live in a neighborhood without a huge volume of children then consider your church, or your child’s preschool or daycare. Or even just a group of friends. Whatever works for you.}

From the responses I was able to figure out which families were a good match for our swap. There has to be a flow in order for the swap to work. For example, it won’t be very effective to have 5 families with little girls who are all wearing size 2T clothes but no other families with girls. There wouldn’t be anyone to swap clothes with. I actually made a flow chart to aide me in figuring out the best fit. By the time I was done, we had 8 families in our new Children’s Clothing Swap.

I knew there was too much work involved for me to have time to do it all myself so I split the work load and asked for volunteers. At the end of our first meeting, we had the positions filled and everyone knew their roles. In addition to myself as the Head, I had one person in charge of dealing with the spreadsheets (more on that next time), a person to act as head of the “complaint department”, and one person to handle emails.

By the end of a 30 day period of time I had created an entirely new and updated Children’s Clothing Swap and more importantly, I had created a system that would function long after I decided to step down. Of course, the most basic part of any system is rules. In the next installment I will be introducing you into the inner workings of our system. I’ll share the rules we decided on as a group to make sure the swap runs smoothly each time. In the next few weeks I’ll also give you a glimpse into the families that belong to our swap- the ages and genders of the kids and how it all fits together- and the details of how we actually do our swapping. Hint- Mom’s Night Out and wine are involved.

I hope you’ll come back to finish the series.?A Children’s Clothing Swap?really is a?great way?save you a ton of money.

Part Two-? Developing Rules & Guidelines for a Clothing Swap Group
Part Three– An Introduction to our swap members & how it all flows
Part Four– A look inside how the actual swap takes place

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  • Thank you so much for this! I’m trying to organize a children’s clothes swap and I feel like the information you have given is going to be invaluable! I would like to hear more about issues that had to be resolved by the “complaint department” and what the resolutions were. I’m trying to get a good grasp of what I may be in for. Thanks so much!

  • This is SUCH a good idea! It’s so hard to keep up with how fast our kids are growing out of their clothes! 🙂 We’d love it if you would come share your ideas at our link party this weekend! -The Sisters
    http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2012/05/strut-your-stuff-saturday-link-party_25.html

  • WOW, what a great idea! I totally need one of these by us! I would love to invite you to share this with my readers at Saturday Show & Tell on Cheerios and Lattes!
    Have a Great Weekend,
    Mackenzie
    http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com/saturday-show-tell-12-summer-series-preview/

  • I love clothing swaps! Our church does one twice a year (before spring and before fall) for the ladies and once a year for kids clothes. I always come away with some GREAT items!! 🙂

  • I’ve never really heard of this idea. I’m interested to learn more.

  • DelilahLove

    Thanks 🙂 The rules are very simple and clear cut but without them the swap would not function as well as it does! The next post will be up on Saturday afternoon.

  • Lady in Red

    Rather an ingenious idea! I’m looking forward to hearing more about it – especially the rules post. Thanks 🙂

  • DelilahLove

    Oh yes, tell me about it. It would send my bank account into heart failure if I had to buy new clothes for all of my kids. Haha!

  • Amory/irish twins momma

    Ohhh I can’t wait for the next few series pieces!!! I’ve been wanting to do this. Clothes are expensive! Especially when your oldest enters the ‘big girl’ section.