I am a HUGE fan of the traditional "Ugly Sweater Party" and its origins in celebrating with "upcycled" discarded items. Recycling, good friends, music, laughter, creativity--what's not to like?
Keeping the spirit of "giving back" and "green living" in mind, this year I challenge you to consider adding a different kind of "Ugly Sweater Party" to your repertoire of winter events--a clothing swap.
I know that I am not the only one who irrationally holds on to articles of clothing that I will never wear again.
For whatever reason, many of us hold on to outdated sweaters (that we would never be caught in public with) like they are some sort of security blanket. We hold onto these articles, justifying their presence on the off chance that they MIGHT (but probably won't) come back in style.
I will let you in on a secret.. Letting go of things you don't need, de-cluttering your life, donating to charity, and living consciously is an utterly liberating feeling.
'Tis Better to Donate Than Accumulate
Sip and Swap. How to Host a Clothing Swap-A-Roo-Ski
Step One: Set a date
- Spread the word.; invite guests. Consider opening it up to friends of friends--the larger the party, the bigger the clothing pile (this translates to greater wardrobe options, and a more sizable charitable donation at the end of the night) ***I encourage you to invite guests of all shapes and sizes. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to how their clothes to fit; some like it snug, while others enjoy loose "flowy" layers (not to mention the fact that a roomy dress can easily be cinched in with a great belt, and accessories work for everyone!)
- Have your guests to bring their unloved laundered clothes and accessories to your house along with a bottle of wine, or their favorite finger food. Food and drink make any event more enjoyable; plus, it is called a "Sip and Swap" party after all ;)
- Some people like to have a giant donation pile, while others like to set up formal sections (tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, jewelry, etc.)
- Some like to draw numbers from a hat in order to have guests "line up" look through the goodies, some people like to have the host play Vanna White for the night, while others enjoy the energy of a "free for all" dogpile
- Coupons, tickets, and the good old fashioned honor system all have their place
- Give to your favorite local organization, or see suggestions below to see which cause pulls at your heartstrings
- I have found that it takes attending more than one of these to REALLY TRULY look through your closet with an honest critical eye, and let go of what you don't need. Plus, this is a "green", sustainable, fun way to change up your look on a more frequent basis.
1. American Red Cross
Clothing you donate to the American Red Cross benefits victims of natural disasters. For example, the American Red Cross provided much-needed clothing to Gulf Coast evacuees during Hurricane Katrina, and for Houston-area evacuees during Hurricane Ike.
Currently, the Red Cross needs clothing for men, women, and children, as well as shoes, purses, and other accessories. You can also donate linens and small toys. You can schedule a pickup online through the American Red Cross Clothing Drive website.
2. Vietnam Veterans of America
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) provides support and services for veterans returning home after serving. These services include counseling, hospital treatments, and aid for homeless and disabled vets. The VVA sells donated items in resale shops, and the proceeds benefit the charity. The VVA accepts clothing, shoes, and accessories in good condition. You can schedule a pickup online through the PickUpPlease website.
3. The Salvation Army
6. Big Brother Big Sister Foundation
The Big Brother Big Sister Foundation pairs at-risk kids with adult mentors. The foundation accepts any type of clothing in good condition. Your donations go to the foundation’s resale stores, and up to 100% of the proceeds benefit the charity. You can schedule a pickup online through the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation website.
7. Planet Aid
Planet Aid’s mission is to create a sustainable environment while helping charities at the same time. Planet Aid has a number of drop-off bins around the country, and the charity accepts clothing for men, women, and children.
Clothing donations are recycled through textile recycling, or sold at resale shops. Proceeds from the resale shops go toward helping developing nations. You can find a drop-off bin near using the Planet Aid bin locator.
Savers helps local nonprofit groups host clothing drives. A local charity collects clothing from their supporters and turns the donated goods over to Savers. Savers pays the local charity based on the amount of merchandise collected. Savers also pays nonprofits any time you drop off a donation at a donation center.
In addition to clothing, Savers accepts small household items, DVDs, books, and other media items. Visit the Savers website to find a donation center in your area.
9. Donate My Dress
Donate My Dress is a national network made up of local nonprofits. These nonprofits collect new and gently used formal dresses, which are donated to low-income women so they can have the dress of their dreams for a special occasion like high school prom night. You can find a local donation center on the Donate My Dress website.
10. Society of St. Vincent de Paul
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul accepts clothing donations for use in their thrift stores. Beyond providing needy families with much-needed clothing at low prices, proceeds from the sales also benefit the charity directly. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul helps low-income people by providing both counseling and assistance.
Different thrift stores have different clothing needs. Use the Society of St. Vincent de Paul website to find a thrift store or charity center near you.
Where to Donate Locally
12. Local Churches
13. Community Outreach Centers
Community outreach centers often accept clothing donations, and any clothing you donate will be given to a needy family in your area. For example, my local community outreach center does an annual clothing drive to collect school uniforms, coats, and play clothes for low-income kids in my area. Some community outreach centers also take book donations as well.
14. Homeless Shelters and Missions
The main goal of a homeless shelter or mission is to provide people with a safe place to stay, but many shelters also accept clothing donations. These shelters accept all kinds of clothing, but have a serious need for coats and warm blankets during the cold winter months.
15. Thrift Stores
While some second hand thrift stores are for-profit, you can still do some good in your community by donating your unwanted clothes. Thrift stores resell clothing at rock-bottom prices, which are affordable to low-income families. You will not receive a tax break for dropping your clothes off at a thrift store, but you will help out people in your community.
16. School Clothing Drives
Many public schools do clothing drives once or twice a year. Hosting the clothing drive helps the students learn about the importance of charity, and the schools usually donate the clothes they collect to charities. Be sure to check with the school about tax deductions before you donate.
Hopefully this article will make you think twice when selecting holiday gifts for your loved ones; redirecting the focus on memories over merchandise, and quality over quantity. Maybe it will help inspire you to take a baby step towards letting go of things you don't need, de-cluttering your life, donating to charity, and living consciously. Sending love, peace, and good cheer in your direction.