How to Host a Halloween Costume Swap

four kids in various Halloween costumes play outside in woods

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Oct. 13 is National Halloween Costume Swap Day, and it's the perfect time to get together with friends, family or even your whole community to pick up some gently used costumes while getting rid of the ones you no longer use.

Costume swaps are über-green as they reduce the amount of resources used to make new costumes. And they can save you a ton of green since you won't have to shell out for new stuff at the store. They are also a good way to share an afternoon with friends and reminisce about Halloweens past while getting ready for the next round of trick-or-treating in a couple of weeks.

Want to organize your own Halloween costume swap? Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you do:

Decide how big you want this to be

Do you just want to invite your inner circle of friends? Or do you want to put an open invitation out to the community? The size of your event will determine whether you have the party at a private spot — like your home — or in a public venue such as a church basement or your local rec center.

Make the rules

Avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings by deciding ahead of time if your event will be a "leave one - take one" kind of swap or a "leave what you can - take what you need" kind of event. Make these decisions now and make sure that you are clear about what kind of swap this will be when you invite friends or advertise your swap.

Gather costumes

Yes, the general idea is for participants to swap costumes with other participants, but it's a good idea to have a "starter" supply of costumes for those who come early. Collect costumes from friends and family members who no longer need them or hit your local thrift stores to pick up some extras.

Get organized

On the day of the event, borrow some tables and/or hanging racks from friends or local stores so that costumes can be quickly organized and sorted by size as soon as participants arrive.

Get connected

Lynn Colwell, one of the founders of Green Halloween — and one of the main reasons that we even have National Costume Swap Day — suggests that swappers join a local National Costume Swap Day Facebook page to ask questions, share ideas and join in a community of folks working towards a greener Halloween.

Kimberley Danek Pinkson, founder of the EcoMom Alliance, hosts a swap each year and it has grown into a large event. After years of organizing this event, here are some things Pinkson has learned about hosting a successful costume swap:

Bring or rent some clothing racks

Have lots of hangers. It helps you keep things organized and it looks nicer for people to sort through then piles on the ground.


In your local community event paper and post to local moms' groups.

Have a face painter or art supplies

On hand so moms and dads can hang out and socialize after the kids have done the costume swapping.

Safely put up a mirror

So kids can see themselves in their costumes. It is sooo cute to see their little faces light up upon seeing themselves in new costumes (well, new to them)!