How to run a kids clothes swap


This doll's 5 year old "mum" got a new top at the clothes swap.

Mostly homemade cakes, selling at 30p can raise £60 in just 15 minutes at a school cake sale.

Every Friday my daughter Nell’s primary school holds a cake (and savoury) sale. Most of the parents and carers who pick up at 3.30pm come around for a 30p cake as a way of celebrating the end of another hard week learning/juggling (depending on your age!). It’s a nice time for adults to chat, let the kids play together and generally offers a slow start to the weekend. It’s also a great opportunity to set up a kids clothes and shoes swap. This post is by Nicola Baird

It takes about two weeks to organise a clothes swap, but only about an hour of the organiser’s time. First you need permission from the school head, then you need to hope the weather will be good (or have access to indoors or a pop-up gazebo). A week before this event the eight Green Team members (aged between 7 and 10 years) made a colour poster in the IT suite which I then put up around the school playground in a waterproof sleeve. I also wrote out two short messages which the school office texted to parents, another was emailed around to all families who are on the PTA email list (more than 50).

In the past I have created letters for bookbags, but this takes a lot of time, the spelling/wording needs to be checked by the head teacher (an inevitable delay) and then 300 copies need photocopying and splitting into piles of 30…

The last clothes swap was held in May (nearly a year ago) but luckily I’d stored the big A3 card poster for use on the day and managed to find it and get an ex-student to tie it up on one of the gates families use to enter/exit the school.

Don’t do this on your own

Enjoy the setting up and the clearing away at a clothes swap.

Several friendly mums at the school offered to help on the day putting out tables, folding clothes, generally cheerleading for the kids clothes swap – and another brought her car especially to the school so she could take anything that wasn’t wanted off to the nearest Marie Curie charity shop for another go at recycling. The unwanted shoes were also bagged up and given to a local group collecting shoes for Rwanda. It’s all win win and prevents good-as-new clothes from ending up in the bin. I also managed to get a pair of barely worn hiking boots for my eight-year-old, which will certainly have saved me around £30 and enable her to skip up the Lake District mountains this summer…

Our school is in an inner city borough so has a hugely international intake – it’s one of its real strengths. In a lull between the many hands hunting for a bigger jumper, summer dresses, Arsenal shorts and longer trousers I realised that the mums who helped me run this event came from Chile, Mexico, Russia, Trinidad and Turkey as well as long-time Londoners. I love the way schools introduce us all to so many people, and so many different ways of doing things.

Have you got any tips about how to run a kids (or babies) clothes and shoes swap painlessly? Or for more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children see my new book, Homemade Kids (out in July).

Explore posts in the same categories: thrifty

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