I get most of my kids’ clothes for free. Not just some of them, but most of them. And I don’t steal! I scavenge, swap, and most of all, I ask around. The asking around is how I get hand-me-downs. I have gotten hundreds of children’s clothes items (nice ones, cute ones!) for nothing. Most people (myself included) are really happy to pass along the clothes their children have outgrown. You just have to put the word out.
Last spring I was visiting with a neighbor and telling her that Little Sister was suddenly toilet training herself and I was having trouble finding tiny-size undies. My neighbor happened to have a paper grocery sack full of tiny undies to hand down at that very moment. Score! I had put the word out without even realizing it. When Little Sister outgrew the undies a few months later I passed them back to my neighbor and now her baby girl is using them.
Another nice thing about hand-me-downs (besides the fact that they are FREE) is that they are a bit of a community builder. When someone gives you a bag of clothes it gives you a connection to that person. You are thankful to that person. And it makes you feel like returning the favor, too. Sometimes you will return the favor to that same person but often it is someone else, someone with a child just the right age, and in that way the favor just gets passed along. (Hand-me-down karma?) In addition, when your child wears those hand-me-downs you will sometimes think of the child they used to belong to and think of him or her fondly. (I have lots of sweet memories of my niece when I see Little Sister wearing her clothes.)
Hand-me-downs aren’t just for kids. I also get clothes for myself from my sister and two friends. (I give them clothes, too, so it is a mutually beneficial arrangement.) I’m planning to host a more formal clothes swap here at my house with some girlfriends this spring. A swap is a great way to pick up some clothes for free and also get rid of clothes that you no longer need. There are some good instructions on how to run a clothing swap HEREand HERE.