My first and last swap party

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Naomi Caine

Naomi CaineI recently received a party invitation. Yes, me, a party – and one that didn’t involve finger paints or Disney characters.

It wasn’t just any party, either. It was a swap party. Now, don’t jump to any conclusions about saucy goings-on in the Home Counties. We were instructed to bring clothes and jewellery, not car keys and husbands.

Swapping or swishing parties are fast catching on, but this was my first. If you are also unfamiliar with the concept, you basically take along anything you no longer need or want. Everyone then has a good rummage and if you see anything you fancy, it’s yours.

Popular items are put in a raffle so there are no arguments over the Boden wrap dress and anything left at the end of the evening is taken to the charity shop.

No money changes hands at a swap party, so they are becoming increasingly popular with recessionistas who want to liven up their wardrobe or pick up a present for a friend’s birthday, all for free.

But I’m not so sure. It took me ages to decide what to take because donations aren’t anonymous. Your friends will be at a swap party and if you turn up with a bag full of old tat they will think you either have poor taste or a mean spirit.

I agonised for days and eventually selected a bracelet that didn’t suit me and a jumper I had never worn. Oh, and a Donna Tart hardback, which was enormous and unread.

clothes swapThe party was in full swap when I arrived, but I retreated to the kitchen. I didn’t particularly want to try on my mate’s fashion rejects or my neighbour’s cast-offs. And what if I did secretly lust after the dress that no longer fits my friend’s postpartum figure? I would hate to wear it and bump into her. We would both be mortified!

The evening wasn’t a total flop. Someone went home with my bracelet and I came back with a DVD. But it was hardly a roaring success. It wasn’t free, either. I took a bottle of wine and some nibbles, which probably cost about £10. It might have been my first swap party, but it will also be my last.