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The room is filled with flowers and women’s clothing. Here is a rack with blouses, sweaters, and pantsuits. The rack over there is filled with slacks, skirts, and evening dresses. Some have tags of famous designers. You can find every kind of fabric in every color. Solids, prints, florals. And on the table there are accessories: beaded necklaces, jeweled belts, costume jewelry, and shoes.

Of course, there are refreshments too. Home-baked pastries, wines, juices, and snacks. Hand-made greeting cards. At least a dozen women are milling around, examining the clothing, trying on their favorites, sipping wine, and reading brochures about The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF).

It’s a swishing party! The term “swishing” is not one you’ve heard? This is a glorified swapping party of clothes and accessories. The name comes from the sound of silks and satins.

The party’s host invites friends and acquaintances, who each offer at least one item of value, in exchange for another item that they want. Anything left unclaimed is donated. People may hold a swishing party as a charity event or simply for the fun of it (and to recycle and save money at the same time).

Jane in Scotland shares her perspective on a recent swishing party that she held to benefit TPRF’s Food for People (FFP) program:

“I’d done a swishing in London about five years ago and the open plan of our new house made me think it could work even better here. My friend co-hosted, and we chose to feature Food for People because it is easy to understand for people who don’t know the foundation’s work. We had a display with greeting cards and details about TPRF and the three FFP facilities in India, Nepal, and Ghana.

“This was a party in a private house—mine! So I would not have been happy inviting Joe Public for security reasons. So, it was by invitation only. I sent an email to 20 or so women I know locally and told them to invite others. We had help from a top-notch designer, and the colors and styles were so attractive that folks must have felt this would be special. We reached out to friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors and asked for RSVP’s and updates on how many guests they had invited. We had folks come from 20 to 45 miles away, and a total of 17 women attended.

“We insisted that clothes were dry cleaned or washed and ironed and took great care to display them beautifully. We borrowed or bought clothes racks and draped jewelry on our kitchen island. Due to some very generous clothes donations, we had a rack called “Designer Labels—individually priced.” We even offered a Personal Shopper for those dazzled by the sheer number of different outfits on display! People paid a suggested donation of £10 (about USD$14) plus £10 for each item they purchased. Drinks and snacks were free. We accepted impromptu offers, especially in the last hour when we had stock unsold.

“We were pleasantly exhausted and shocked with the result—tired but happy! We made over USD $1,000! We gave three bags of unsold clothes to a local charity. The best of the remaining stock will be taken to a second-hand shop, so we hope to make an additional $75 to $150. We are determined to do it again during a different season next year. We received some ideas/feedback about offering cups of tea, tweaking our pricing, and other improvements. Folks commented on the lovely atmosphere and the fun they had—and I am sure that was not all caused by the sparkling wine! It was a really successful team and community effort.

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