Back-to-school shopping can be incredibly expensive. We all know that kids outgrow clothing quickly—sometimes before they've even had a chance to wear the outfit more than once! To cut some of the costs, I like to host back-to-school swaps with other fellow parents! At back-to-school swap events, parents from all over the city come together to trade those outgrown or unwanted clothes (and school-related items)—no strings attached! Here’s how to host your own back-to-school swap!

Set it up

Post swap notices (detailing what items to bring to the swap, the maximum amount of items to bring, how to RSVP, where the swap will be, etc.) in as many places as possible at least a month before you intend to have the swap. For example, I posted a notice in my church bulletin, at the local libraries, and at several laundromats in my area. You can also call fellow parents and neighbors with children. Another option is to keep the swap exclusive and exchange goodies with just a few parents or go all-out and invite as many people as possible (which is my personal preference because there’s a bigger variety of clothing and school items to choose from). Send out invitations once you know how many people are coming to the swap. You can send a physical invitation in the mail, go the paperless route and send an electronic note, or set up a Facebook event.

What to swap

Ask parents to bring anything school related to the swap such as school supplies, shoes, clothing, books, backpacks, sports equipment and lunch boxes. Everything should be clean, in like-new condition and free of stains or excessive wear. At my swaps I find that many clothes (and other items) still have tags on them!

Get organized

Set up bins or tables before the guests arrive. I suggest labeling each bin to help keep your swap organized. I like to separate each table or box by sex (for example boy clothing goes on one table and girl clothing goes on another). If you expect a lot of items (or just want things even more efficient) you can even break the clothing down by size. Have the guests sort their items into the specified piles as they arrive.

Time to shop

When it's time to swap, you can have guests sort through the items and take as many as they want. Or if you want to keep things more organized, all participants can draw numbers. Have each parent pick an item (or a designated number of items) when their number is selected.

What to do with leftovers

Although most parents will leave with armloads of goodies, there’s usually a good amount of unclaimed products left behind. Rather than throw away these unwanted products, I like to donate them to my local women's shelter. You can also use online trading sites like Swap.com to swap or sell kids items like clothing, shoes, accessories and books.

Save on Back-to-School by Hosting a Swap!