Eco Friday: How to have a Last-Minute Costume Swap for Halloween

costume swap bellyitchblog.com

Costume Swaps are Eco-Friendly. National Costume Swap Day was last Saturday, but honestly, it’s not too late to host a last-minute Eco-Friendly Costume Swap for next Saturday, Halloween!

Costume swaps are a fun way to save money and reduce waste for Halloween. Here is how to organize one. These are our condensed version of tips we spotted over at Green Halloween.

Secure a location. If you are hosting a small swap, you can do it in your living room or a cleaned out garage. If you live in a cul-de-sac, you can organize all of the neighbors to get  involved.  Make sure there is room to organize the costumes.  Make sure there is ample parking for those coming from farther away. Decide what you will do with leftover costumes like donate them to Goodwill or some other charity.

Promote – Put up signs in the neighborhood, announce it on the town listserv or pin up notices at central places like the public library or a local coffee house to announce the Swap.

Plan and Set Up – Collect costumes costumes in advance so those who come early can have an assortment of options to choose from

Decide how you will set up the swap. Do swappers need to leave a costume to take a costume? (one for one) Or, will your swap operate on the “leave what you can, take what you need” principle? Either way, here are two ways to organize the event:

Option #1: Prior to the swap (days or hours – depending on how many people you expect), swappers bring the costumes they want to exchange. They receive a stamp on the hand or small token (to avoid using paper tickets) for each costume to use on the day of the event. Once costume(s) is selected, the participant shows the stamp or returns the token.

Option #2: When the swap starts, everyone enters with costumes they are exchanging. Costumes are immediately placed in areas by size and swappers can make one new selection.

costume swap at library

Get some help. An event like this is something one person can take on, but why not make it a group effort? The more the merrier as long as everyone is clear on expectations. Ask friends and family, neighbors, parents at your child’s school, members of your church, etc. Let them know this is a community effort, that the purpose is to save resources (and money) and that helping to host can be F-U-N!

Gather supplies:

  • racks or tables
  • signs for racks or tables (Recycled cardboard, markers and tape)
  • hangars if you are using racks
  • trash and recycling receptacles
  • Mirrors

Other activities

You may also want to incorporate others in your event. Vendors selling (or giving away) appropriate, eco-friendlier items, or local health/green-focused organizations may host a Halloween themed activity. Show parents how to make their own face paints or roll beeswax candles.

Swap! On the day of:

  • Costumes are laid out on tables or hung on hangars according to size with the table/rack clearly marked. Renting or borrowing a clothing rack can be very helpful toward keeping costume presentation organized and appealing to “shoppers.”
  • Kids can try on costumes, but have enough “staff” available to supervise to ensure things are hung back up or laid on the right table.
  • Owners can reclaim costumes that are not swapped, or donate leftovers to shelters or GoodWill type stores.
  • Have a photographer take photos (with parent’s written permission) or shoot some video of the event (ditto on the permission), and post them here or on our FB page.
  • Green halloween

Additional ideas:

  • Ask consignment shops and thrift stores if they want to get involved.

    Have a section for accessories; mismatched pieces of costumes that creative kids can use to put original get-ups together.
  • Stage a dressing-room area. Or, you may want to encourage parents to bring kids dressed in a leotard or swim suit to avoid having to undress.
  • Ask people to bring a shopping bag. Do not provide them.
  • State that costumes should be in good to excellent condition, no significant spots, holes etc. (unless they are supposed to be there!). You should note on written materials that you have the right to reject costumes based on whatever criteria you like.
  • You can limit items that are contributed, i.e. if you won’t want masks, plastic costumes, etc.
  • Request that people behave well. There should be no pushing etc. You might want to have a “security person” on site just in case. If you are concerned about this, you can always ask people to register in advance for the swap, assign a time and allow them to enter in small groups.
  • At the end of the event, how about staging a costume parade? A business might contribute some healthy treats or treasures to give each child.
  • Have a microphone available. You might want to do an introduction and let people know why you’re doing this, reinforce any rules (i.e. good behavior), point out the rest rooms, let people know about upcoming Green Halloween events in your community, encourage use of recycling containers and encourage everyone to have fun.
  • Be sure to have plenty of people assigned to “roaming” on hand to ensure your event goes smoothly.
  • If you have food at your swap, make it healthy and avoid paper wrappings, napkins etc. and/or provide compost bins.


photo courtesy: Lake Country Now/Scott Ash

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