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Recycle Your Hair Care Products: Throw a Hair Care Trading Party!


If you are anything like me, you love trying new products. And, if you are anything like me, you have tried more than your share of stuff you just don’t like and know you will never use. So what do you do? You know you can’t return an opened bottle of shampoo or mousse and get your money back simply based on the fact that you don’t like it (kudos to you if you’ve ever managed to pull this one off). As we all know, damage or anything like that is another story entirely.

Out of sheer desperation and increasing lack of closet and counter space, I decided to take positive action. I called all my friends and found out that many of them (okay, ALL of them) had several partially-used hair care products languishing on their shelves. All of us agreed that since we had paid actual money for them, we just couldn’t throw them out, now could we? So we held what is now known in my circle as the Annual Hair Care Product Trading Party (the Tradin’ Party for short).

How to Hold Your Tradin’ Party

On a mutually agreed-upon day or evening, all of us round up the hair care products we have tried and don’t care for, bag ‘em up and bring them to the party. Each year we swap off houses and refreshments (I’ll get to that part in a minute). We unload everything onto a big table (countertops and the floor as well if there are too many products), and put our names on our section of the goodies. This is an important detail, because that way we know who to ask what the product in question is really like. If you don’t label, then you waste a lot of time and energy hollering out things like, “Who brought the Mango-Marshmallow Madness Mousse?”

If you really want to get fancy, you can even divvy up your stuff into groups like shampoos, gels, etc. But as long as you put your name down on your section, you’re pretty much good to go.

The Three Most Important Reasons for Having a Tradin’ Party

There are three excellent reasons for having the Tradin’ Party, 1) you get to dump hair care products you know you won’t use, 2) you’ll get the straight poop from your friends on how the product really works, and 3) it’s a great excuse to have extravagant snacks prepared just for this yearly special occasion.

All of us at one time or another have become weak in the knees over a product we knew in our hearts we would grow to dislike—we just came into a windfall of extra money and were at the mall, we just got a terrific hairdo and got talked into buying the stylist’s recommended product-of-the-month, the commercial for the product was witty and made us laugh; you name it, I’ve done it. You have a steelier heart than mine if you’ve resisted the above reasons for buying. However, if you go to or hold one of these Tradin’ parties you will definitely get an unbiased opinion from the user of said product about what it will and will not do. After all, what have they got to lose? They already spent their money and are not getting it back, so they have nothing to lose by being completely honest! So if you go to the party with 10 products you hate, and come home with 5 or 6, in my mind that balances out.

Now, the proper refreshments at the annual Tradin’ Party make all the difference. I mean, you can’t just haul a bunch of bottles and jars to someone’s house and start trading and call it a party, can you? That’s like going to a great movie and sitting in a bad seat with gum on the bottoms of your shoes. Let’s talk great goodies here. Let me add here that the annual Tradin’ Party is no time to:

  • Go on a diet and serve plain seltzer water and lemon, followed by cut-up veggies and a low-fat yoghurt dip
  • Serve politically correct foods (you figure it out)
  • Say to the assembled (and hungry) crowd, “We ALL could stand to lose a few pounds, so there will be no refreshments AT ALL.” (Do this and you can count on a stampede out your front door and probably not one of those women will ever speak to you again. Worst of all, you’ll be left with ALL the hair care products.)

Great Tradin’ Party Refreshments - Daytime

You can go with your daytime fare of good French roast coffee, Red Zinger tea, homemade lattes with real whipped cream, and assorted assorted pastries (anything from those fancy little petit fours to cut-up Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, Drakes Cakes, and Devil Dogs are just fine). You can even make it a brunch-type deal and serve iced tea or coffee, milk and assorted fruit juices, or lemonade, or soft drinks, and do a little cheese souffl (which is a royal pain because of the timing—it kind of breaks up that party mood to have to yell to all and sundry, “Come look at this souffl before it falls flat!”), fresh fruit (with a fattening cream cheese dip, of course), little tea sandwiches and chips, or the like. Just have plenty and you’ll be fine.

Great Tradin’ Party Refreshments - Nighttime

My own personal favorite is the nighttime version of the Tradin’ Party. Just having it at night implies that you can keep partying til the wee hours, and even turn it into a sleepover if you like. Refreshments will of course be far different than the daytime version.

Depending on the size of your crowd, you can provide mixed drinks in anything from a large blender to a brand new garbage pail (the 13-gallon kind). Margaritas, daiquiris, Brandy Alexanders, etc. are good blender drinks. If you’re going for the larger crowd, do by all means go the garbage pail route. I’m dead serious. The best thing about it is that you can make up the whole nights’ worth of drinks at one go and be done with it. I’ll share with you my own two party-pleasers, Mean Green Machines, and Purple Passion.

Mean Green Machines


  • 4 fifths vodka (any kind, and don’t get all fancy about it)

  • 8 little cans of limeade, thawed

  • 3 gallons of lime sherbet

  • several dozen plastic cups

  • a good-sized plastic ladle

  • a bungie cord

Fill the garbage pail with the vodka, then throw in the limeade, and add the required amount of water. Stir well, and float the sherbet on top. Attach the plastic ladle to the garbage pail with a bungie cord (you don’t want to forget this, or you’ll have your guests dipping their cups in willy-nilly, or, as the evening progresses, plunging face-first into the pail). Keep plenty of cups nearby.

Purple Passion


  • 4 fifths of gin (or vodka)

  • 6 large cans of grape juice, thawed

  • 2 bottles of seltzer

  • 3 large lemons, cut up

  • 3 large oranges, cut up

  • several dozen plastic cups

  • a good-sized plastic ladle

  • a bungie cord

Fill the garbage pail with the gin or vodka, then throw in the grape juice, and add the required amount of water. Add the seltzer water, and toss in the cut-up lemons and oranges. Do the bungie cord and ladle business again.

With drinks like these, you’re going to need some heavy-duty snacks: corn chips and clam dip, that Velveeta cheese and Rotel tomatoes cheese dip, cheese puffs, chicken enchiladas (just go to the frozen food section and grab a few family-size boxes), lasagna, garlic bread, buckets of those little cocktail weenies, chili, barbeque chips and onion dip, anything with cheese as an ingredient—cheese balls, cheese curls, cheese puffs, etc., slices of garlic sausage pizza, a couple of large cheesecakes; I could go on. But you get the general idea.

Try out your own annual Tradin’ party, get rid of the stuff you don’t like, and get a chance to try out some stuff you do like. It’s a great reason to get together and party! Let me know how yours goes!

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