A swishing (or clothes-swapping) party is a fun way for
your supporters to freshen up their wardrobes while raising money
for your cause.
- Choose a date and time for your event, and book the venue.
Agree the rules of the swish and decide how and where tickets will
be sold. Get these printed - tickets should include the date, time,
address, contact details, the rules of the swish and clothing
drop-off cut-off times. Start spreading the word - put up posters
and use local events listings. Promote your event on swishingparties.com.
- Create a floor plan of your venue. Beg, borrow or hire an
appropriate number of hanging rails (and hangers). Work out where
you can create a changing area, and source some full length
mirrors. Consider how to separate different clothing sizes on your
rails. You can buy rail dividers and hanger size cubes on eBay, and
sell them again when you're done! If an item is sized S/M/L, try to
get an approximate UK size from the guest. Collect carrier bags for
people to use to take away their items.
- Finalise what refreshments will be provided and who will be in
charge of this on the day. Any supply of alcohol (even if offered
free with the ticket price) will require a TEN.
Submit your application to your local council at least ten working
days before your event. Set up a pre-event clothing drop-off if
possible - ask people to leave their name and email address with
their items, in order to collect their vouchers or points card on
- On the night lay out the rails, tables, clothing items and
refreshments. Allow half an hour at the start for guests to arrive
and hand over remaining clothes. Allow 15 minutes for people to
browse the rails and see what items they might like to swap - no
items can be taken during this time. Then, explain the rules again
before declaring the swish open. Guests swish and try on items,
placing unwanted items back on the rails.
- Any leftover clothing items can be donated to a local charity
or stored for your next textile recycling collection. Be sure to
thank all your supporters and let them know how much the event
Tips and advice for running a swishing event
- Swish rules: The simplest swish is conducted on a 'one for one'
basis. A voucher is issued to each guest with their number of items
written on it, to be checked off at the end of the event. A more
complex system is to grade the items by type or price, e.g.
'standard' = high street/less than £40 (one point), and 'premium' =
designer/more than £40 (three points).
- Condition: All items should be freshly laundered, ironed, and
in good repair. Ask people to bring them on hangers. Shoes and
accessories should be brought in boxes, if possible.
- Raising money: Charge a 'per person' admission fee. Invite
third party stallholders to attend (e.g. selling beauty products,
clothing or accessories), and charge them a fixed fee of between
£10-£25. Stallholders must have their own public liability
insurance - if not, speak to your PTA insurance provider to see
whether additional cover is available. Hold an auction or raffle.
- Licensing: You don't need a licence to run a swishing event,
but if you're selling or providing alcohol you will need a TEN
(England and Wales). Complete a risk assessment.
- Venue space: You will need a pre/post-event milling-around
area, plus a dedicated space for the swish. Have a changing area
with mirrors, and additional space for people to sit and chat. Have
a separate coat rail/cloakroom to stop coats getting mixed up with
a print-friendly PDF version of our step-by-step guide to running a
Swishing success story
Claire Smith, Swallowfield Lower School, Milton Keynes,
Bedfordshire (358 pupils): 'We have now run several
swishing events, so we have it down to a fine art! At our last
event we charged £10 a ticket, and asked for three pre-loved items
in good condition to be left in the school reception. The ticket
price included a glass of wine and a cupcake. Volunteers picked up
the donations, sorted them into sizes and checked their quality. On
the night 15 of the volunteer mums provided a choreographed
'fashion show', modelling the donated items in different themes -
military, disco, black and white, daywear and glam - we practiced
for a good six weeks beforehand to get the moves right! We had
three rails divided into sizes 8/10, 12/14, 16+, with displays for
accessories. The show lasted 20 mins, after which guests browsed
the rails and tried items on. At 9pm all items were returned to the
rails, everyone had to stand behind the red tape and then a klaxon
went off to start the swish! Everyone could take three items, and
we asked them to pay an extra £1 on exit. Goodie bags, filled with
flyers from those involved in the evening, were given out at as
guests left. We had lots of raffle prizes donated, which was
another big earner on the night. We had 80 people turn up and made
£765 profit overall, making it our best swishing event to date! Any
clothes not claimed went to Cancer Research UK and they made money
on each bag, so we were all winners!
The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you
contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to
insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection
requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for
any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on the guidance
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