Because one woman's trash is another woman's treasure, this Portland, Oregon, moms' group hosted a "Naked Mama" swap party and watched the clothes fly!

Ready to Swap

What do you get when a dozen moms show up with armfuls of clothes, ready to swap, talk, and nosh? "Organized chaos," says Olivia Rebanal, cofounder of the group "We're into low-impact planning, so this was an easy way to score new clothes, recycle our old stuff, and have fun."

They held the event at local boutique Black Wagon, which offered a discount so the moms could shop for new stuff too. "People were cautious at first," says cofounder Hau Hagedorn, "but as the night went on we began to just dig in -- modeling outfits and sharing stories about the clothes." All the moms who attended (plus one older daughter) left with at least one new outfit.

The UrbanMamas also organize coffee playdates, wine nights, and a weekly Saturday-morning run. And they've just started meeting to discuss state ballot issues -- and to figure out how they can get their voices heard. "It helps keep us in touch with who we were before we became moms," says Olivia. "We don't have as much time -- but we don't have to give up doing the things we love with the people we love."

Trading Online

Here, the best Web sites for swapping:

  • This site has a good mix of brands, so there's something for everyone; plus trading your clothing, shoes, and bags is free.
  • Have a pile of books, CDs, or DVDs you're done with? Trade 'em in here for only the cost of postage.
  • This site's just for exchanging beauty products, but make sure items are new and sealed: Used makeup can be full of bacteria.

Throw Your Own Swap Party

Want new clothes for nada? Host your own exchange! Our tips make swapping a snap.

  • Invite a big group for more options (and sizes), and make sure all the clothes are clean and gently used. Don't forget accessories like bags and shoes, too.
  • Make space. Clear off tables, set up mirrors, and designate a changing area for shy mommies.
  • Decide beforehand how your swap will work -- you can do individual swaps, try a ticket or an auction-style setup, or simply let everyone dig in. (Brace yourself!)
  • Sort the clothes into categories (skirts, sweaters, jeans) or by quality (discount, mall-store, designer).
  • Have a tiebreaker in case two people want a hot item. The classic "rock, paper, scissors" never fails.
  • Serve drinks and snacks to keep your swap festive instead of frantic.
  • Donate items that didn't get snapped up.

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the October 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

Parents Magazine