Shop for holiday gifts in your own closet, then trade

December 12, 2008 9:41:46 AM PST
Instead of setting a table and shopping for gifts, this year, Ruth Weisberg of Ardmore, Pa., decided on a non-traditional holiday party for her friends.

Weisberg says, "I wanted to do something that was fun, festive, philanthropic and free."

Weisberg set up clothing racks in her dining room and invited her friends to clean out their closets for a holiday swap party.

"Instead of shopping in the stores, you shop in your own house," she explains.

Among the items available to swap, a boy's blazer from Lord and Taylor's and sweaters from Polo Ralph Lauren and Liz Claiborne.

At first, the swap was organized and sedate. But then more people brought more clothes, including a pair of killer stilettos, that a Center City lawyer said she just had to try on.

Items that noone took home were donated to Career Wardrobe, Church of the Good Shepherd and the Jewish Relief Agency.

Here are Weisberg's tips for organizing your own holiday swap party:

1. What goes in the pile? As you sift through your dresser drawers and closets, gather items that: no longer fit; are not in style; you don't need anymore (ie., maternity clothes; business suits), are colors/patterns/fabrics that are no longer flattering; are items that need to be washed, dry-cleaned or mended--and you still haven't gotten around to that!

2. Now what? Categorize everything. This can be by season or by specific item. Put these like-minded items together in trash bags or large plastic containers (ideal for things that can be folded). Clothes on hangers can go on a portable clothing rack, or even strung up on a clothesline.

3. Need extra hangers or boxes for storing and displaying your items? Your local dry cleaners and wine store are good places to get these things!

4. So how does the swap work? Clear a space in your home where you can sort thru or dump out everything. You and your friends get 'first dibs' on everything, and whatever is leftover or unclaimed gets donated to a designated charity. Community theater groups are another great source for donations, as they're always looking for potential costumes and props! Some charity organizations will even send a truck or van to your home to pick up your donations.

5. What else can go in a swap? Doesn't just have to be clothes and accessories. You can do the same thing with books, children's toys, office supplies, home furnishings and small electronics!

6. Invite your friends, cook or have them bring food and drinks. and Have Fun!

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