so, my parents are hoarders. there is another thread on MDC going on now about a MIL who goes overboard with buying Christmas gifts, and it turns out, she (the MIL) is a hoarder. who apparently really enjoys buying lots and lots of Christmas gifts.
i didn't want to thread hijack... but to turn the question around: what do YOU buy for the hoarder on your list?
in my case, we have (in the past) purchased a large quantity of meats, had it shipped, and it turned out that they wasted it all. stuck it in their garage for "freezer" storage, since it was winter and cold out and all (and their freezer was already overstuffed full), and then forgot about it till spring, when it basically spoiled. but they still started doling out the spoiled meat to their children (including us, who got a spoiled ham. gee, thanks). we aren't doing that again.
another year, we got my mother a "fruit of the month" club, which was a $300+ gift from Harry and David. some of the fruit got eaten. but not all of it! some of it was fed to their horses. (bad for the horses, and a pretty pricey treat, anyway, at about $30 a month. some expensive grapefruits, YK?)
so i've settled on getting my dad an insulated flannel shirt each year, i know he will use it. but on the other hand, i'm sure he never gets rid of the old ones each year, and some day when it comes time to clean out their stash, their hoard upon hoard of stuff, i will be finding a LOT of insulated flannel shirts.
my mom wants a framed picture of my kids, which is nice, and i am obliging, but i will bet that it never makes it onto their walls.
i sometimes get her gloves, since she is ALWAYS without gloves in the coldest weather, and always with chapped hands in the winter. she's got to have so many pairs of gloves, but can't find any of them.
that kind of problem plagues them.
so, how about you? what do you get for the hoarder(s) in your life??
My MIL is a hoarder and dh and I have given her a goat, and some poop from Oxfam. Seriously, she loved it.
How about a gift card to a dinner out, or would that get lost in the hoard? If you live near buy turn that 'gift card; into a nice card with a 'coupon' for a dinner out for all of you (you, dh, mom and dad) and you and dh pick up the tab. It doesn't have to be dinner, could be sunday brunch, tuesday lunch. that type of thing.
Are they in desperate need of something fixed? Tell then you will pay for the plumber on 12/28/11 type of thing.
My parents are closet hoarders. Literally the house is spotless but do not open any closets, you can get hurt. So I don't get them things, they live 2k miles away. I get them gift cards. honestly they have yet to use one from my mothers birthday in June. But they know where it is and are 'trying' to use it.
I was considering sending http://www.incredibleedibles.net/ but the gift card seems to be the way to go.
My father was/is/kinda likes to golf so for fathers day I might call the local club and get him a punch card for the driving range.
You could get them a gift card to the oil change place, if they still drive.
I realize none of these are super touchy feelie, lovey type things but the goal is to not bring things into the house.
OH my mother likes a gift card to the local spa in town for a manicure/pedicure thing. Or to the haircut place, shes been going to the same lady for 20 some years.
Good luck but think about experiences and gift cards vs things.
Mom to J and never-ending , 0/2014 items decluttered, 0/52 crafts crafts completed
Seeking zen in 2014. Working on journaling and finding peace this year. Spending my free time taking J to swimteam
thanks for the replies. but re: gift cards. NO. they lose them. BIG TIME.
IF those suckers never expire, that's a good thing, otherwise they will have THOUSANDS of dollars in gift cards floating around in the hoard.
last year, my DH wanted to get my mother a complete car detailing, YK, the $200+ kind. (since their car is such a total pigsty.)
he was going to get a gift certificate. i told him DON'T. (fearing it would go unused.)
instead i went to a quick detail place that does a pretty nice job for $30 (just the basics w/o "deep cleaning", which would have been a HUGE improvement anyway). we got them a gift card for that place.
It's lost. unused. their car is horrible as ever. they drive around with loads of garbage in it. it's embarrassing. what can i do? they just needed to get some laundry baskets, empty out the car of the stuff, and go in to have it cleaned. couldn't. didn't. UGH.
What about an 'experience' gift - like a coupon for taking them out somewhere for a meal or to an event. You are giving the gift of your time and the cost of whatever it is and there is nothing for them to take into the house except for their memories!
What kind of things do they hoard? Paper, clothes, books, knick knacks? We got my great grandmother a paper shredder for shredding all her papers. We got her some nice boxes to put all her stuff in. She actually put stuff in them for awhile. I think we even gave her a burning barrel once... she burned things she shouldn't have. However she actually used some of that stuff.
My mom is a hoarder -- almost reality tv level hoarding. I buy her things I know she will like and use. I know that there are many gifts I have given her that are buried under the mess in her home, but I have learned to let it go.
She has dogs and likes a fancy dog shampoo for them, so I'll get her that. I give her baskets of nice things to eat. Yes, much of it goes spoiled, but she likes getting the gift anyway. I send her cut flowers or an evergreen centerpiece for the holidays. I try to buy things that she use or consume right away.
And I don't overspend. In the past, I have bought her nice things thinking that she would appreciate them, but she simply doesn't. Or maybe she does appreciate them...I don't know. I know that it is hard for me to see something that I gave her being ruined, so I don't give anything expensive.
Something small, something consumable, those are my criteria.
Frugal, food growing mama to my four loves
Love Crayfish's ideas.
The way I analyze this:
- Don't spend money you are not comfortable just throwing away.
- Don't become attached to the gift in any way.
- Don't have expectations that it will be used or help anything.
- Don't try to hard to circumvent the hoarding. Just give something reasonably small.
- Aim to give something that will at least be enjoyed in the moment of receiving it, even if it is never actually used.
While I am not in the situation of having to gift a hoarder, I can sympathize with what you are feeling. (I also have a hard time with gifts overall,actually). But remember that the point of a gift is to make the receiver feel loved and/or appreciated.
I think that if the hoarding is very bad, it almost doesn't matter if you give a physical object or not. Gift cards and such are great, but as mentioned, get lost. Obviously I wouldn't give anything ridiculous like a set of dishes, but I think at some point, you have to recognize that circumventing the hoarding is kind of pointless. So just get something you are comfortable getting and let it be. Soap, a scarf, whatever. Don't expect to see it used, let that be ok with you. And personally I would immediately stop spending that kind of money on the gift!
People hate feeling any kind of strings attached to a gift, or judgements. So trying too hard to make a gift non-physical might backfire. I realize you feel the weight of every item added to the home, knowing you'll have to deal with it at one time or another, but at some point it doesn't really matter. A nice soap and a scarf is just a drop in the bucket in the hoarding but might go a ways toward making your mother feel loved and/or appreciated. That's the way I see it anyway. (I wish people would recognize that loving and appreciating me means NO gifts... but at least I also realize that most people apparently do want gifts, even if I don't really understand it.)
Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.
Yep. Yep. Exactly. Another thing that I considered this year was giving Mom a discounted art book - she would never read a page of it, and it might eventually get chewed by mice, but she would, as you say, enjoy it in the moment of opening, and she'd feel complimented that I think of her as being interested in art. But the art-themed umbrella had the advantage of the same implied compliment and higher odds of actually being used, plus it will probably leave the hoard when it gets lost, while the book would be in the hoard forever.
Now, I am still considering whether I'm interested in making Mom feel good, or if our relationship has reached the point where me trying to give her a moment of happiness, when she couldn't care less about me, is just wearing me down. But when I decide that I'm at that point, I'll stop buying gifts; if I'm buying her a gift, there's no point in buying one that won't make her feel good.
Even though you can give the hoarder a moment of happiness when they open a physical gift, I think that's almost like enabling. Gift objects aren't inherently bad, but a bottle of wine isn't inherently bad either, unless you're giving it to an alcoholic. It is just a drop in the bucket, but if everyone uses that excuse, the buckets overflow. I don't think showing love in a non-tangible form is being pushy or disrespectful to the hoarder's lifestyle. Sure, you're not going to change a hoarder's life Christmas weekend, but you can teach by example.
For hoarding-type relatives, I give experience gifts that I am able to make sure they will experience- no gift cards, but rather, I take them to a restaurant, or a movie. People like this are physically/mentally confined to their homes in some degree, and perhaps the offer of company/ a ride is what they need to redeem those gift cards. If they needed their car detailed, then I would have the gift be that I would physically take the car in myself to do it. Instead of a spa gift certificate, take them to the spa with you for double mani/pedis. For people who have trouble following through or lose things, you need to make the gift more interactive on your half. So long as you pick an experience that the receiver would truly enjoy, I think those types of gifts will give them a few more moments of pleasure than that of opening a package.
Katie, sahm to two wild and crazy guys (8/07) and (3/10) and their sweet new baby sister (4-1-13)
What if this was a child. What would you do? If you brought your 7 year old to a play who saids she didn't have to go pottty and then did and then you all had to stand in back and she whined about it. What would you say?
This is where the child turns into the parent. Something I believe highly in in some situations which sounds like you're in one now. My mom was also a hoarder. When I got my grown up legs I had to start treating her now and then like a child. Ok we're going to this christmas dinner. You will not call your sister names. I would rather you not say anthing at all to her if you feel the need to be mean. You WILL be nice for 2 hours and then you can tell me about it in the car. That christmas my aunt called me and said I don't know what happened to your mom but she was nicest to me than she ever has before! And I simply nodded and smiled. I did not tell her that I scolded my mother like a child. And my mom was cute (in her own way) and when we got home she gritter her teeth and said I was nice all night long! And I told her what a goof girl she was and how proud I was of her.
It DOES work. Not saying treat them like an idiot but when that special even happens or what they are doing is not acceptable you have to tell them so and HOW they will react. If you mom complains say... SAY THANK YOU MOM AND DROP IT. and let it go. Some moms don't get it. Takes some training but eventually they will get where you are coming from.. could take years.
get her the picture or how about a wallet sized one? What she does with it is her problem. Or you could hang it for her.. Walk towards the hammer and nail and ask her Ok where do you want it?? and if she stumbles for words.. pick a spot.. Here's good!
I too am perplexed on what to get for a small gift for my hording sisters. She is a shut in and cannot get out without hubby horders help. In 10+ yrs i have not been in her house and they live a block away from me!
She is obsessed with qvc so i am pretty sure she has everythign somewhere. My neice told me they got a new tv..no sis said they bought it 5 yrs ago and just found it LOL ahh cant make this stuff up... I have been reading alot of ideas and i think a book to read maybe 50 shades of gray ...
In the past we've bought MIL:
Mops/brooms (that she asked for)
accessories for her car
things for her office at work
and other things to clean her house/organize stuff.
We're done. She gets restaurant gift cards from now on. No material objects.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
We always give family a 5x7 of the kids and a nice handmade card. That's it. Years ago I gave them all frames and every year we "fill" them with an updated photo. I agree with the advice not to get attached with what the person does with the gift, and to me a photo is one of those things that they can put up and enjoy all year or just enjoy in the moment and treat as disposable and I'm not going to feel money or effort was wasted (since I'm giving all the relatives the same thing so it's easy for me).
I wouldn't even go to the effort of trying to give a complaining family member something they won't complain about. It just isn't worth the effort to me. But that's me.
- single homeschooling mom to 16, 14, almost-12, and 10
My MIL is a bit of a hoarder, this year we got her a calender from Shutterfly with pictures of the kids. I think it will be our yearly tradition now!
Happily married, Waldorf-inspired homeschooler to Kylan (8yo), Everest (6yo), and Bodhi (2yo)
i want to say this to all of you with hoarder in your family, this is coming from someone that has struggles with hoarding most my life and has let it tip over into total disaster a few times and currently is doing pretty well despite it being a 24/7/365 struggle.
DONT GET THEM ANYTHING before you actually try to help them and i mean really try, not buying them a mop.
Hoarding is a mental illness, not a lifestyle. while it is different for a lot of different folks struggling with things, it is often the horrible spot were Anxiety about something meets some sort of OCD tendency, they are starting to understand this more and more, just a decade ago they were lost. there are medication and programs that actually work. not just pop therapy that is over when the camera stop rolling, real behavior health work.
would you ignore a family member who was clinically depressed, suicidal? how about bi polar? Manic, panic attacks?
then please consider that this is in those same categories, they need professional help, both in cleaning up their space, but way more importantly at treating their mental illness.
if you really love them, help them get better, drop all judgments, wipe the look of horror and disgust of your face or hire someone that can and get them solid professional help.
then when their mind id cared for, and professionals of amazing loving friends have sorted, decluttered and cleaned their home, then and only then buy them something amazing to celebrate the first day of the rest of their lives.
the hoarder will fight this our of fear, but believe me when i say they do really want to be better, to not be shut in, so not live in fear and filth. its just really really scary to let folks help and even to let them in.
as for gifts, your time with them and an experience gift that you go do with them or drop them off to do will be great for now. i would suggest focusing on a self care gift, a spa day, i great new haircut and color. massage. something that helps them feel better about themselves.
So what if I don't fit cleanly into a defined parenting style, my kids don't fit into a personality archetype either!
I have to say though, that I dont think all hoarders are the same. Yes, some have mental illness. Some don't. Some use it as a way to have control over their lives, as a way to have control over others, and some just plain don't ever spend the time to go through their stuff.
My mother is a hoarder, and I grew up in a house that looked like something you'd see on the hoarding television show. Boxes above my head, 8-10 inch paths all over the house, collections of styrofoam cups that came from fast food restaurants, and just general filth. We cleaned it up over and over and over again- got the house back to clean slate. And it always happened again. Along will all the other mental illnesses my mother has, OCD the primary culprit. She won't throw away anything that has her name on it until it's shredded, but she lets that stuff pile up for months. She won't throw away recycling until it's washed out and not sticky, so there are piles of coke cans. She won't throw away styrofoam because it's bad for the environment, so in order to justify her purchase, she has to reuse the cups. Her house is cluttered because she has projects lined up for them, because she thinks one day we will want them, or because she needs to "organize" it into wherever it "goes". She used to make us sit around and go through the stuff with her to help figure out what to throw away. Hours and hours of paying attention to her and her stuff. At one point in my life, we were paying for three separate storage units that held her stuff. It cost more than her mortgage did. She has never, ever admitted that it's a problem- even when she has been told that her grandchildren cant come into her house because of it's state. Even when CPS took us away and made her clean the house up. It's always the same thing- she wouldnt be in this situation if her kids and husband would "do their part" and help out around the house. It's always someone else's fault. She's even had state mandated therapy for it.
My MIL had one of those houses that was clean and full of antiques when I started dating DH 10 years ago. She had a 10 year old daughter at home, worked full time, and was the president of her college alumni club. Over the years, I have watched her house fall into shambles. When SIL got to high school, she was hanging out with friends a lot, MIL still worked full time, and to occupy her time she joined clubs and committees so that she wasnt home alone. This carried on over to when SIL went to college. She is never home, and when she is she just heats something up in the microwave and watches tv and goes to bed. She doesnt spend time at her house- so she often misses trash day, she doesnt go through stuff and make bags to take to goodwill. When things happen like her printer breaks, she buys a new one, and just moves the old one over to the side. It's not that she wants to keep it, its just that she doesnt "have time" to do anything about it. She is still in the old school mindset of everything she sees on the internet she needs to print out. So her house is covered with recipes, geneology information, and papers from all of her clubs and committees. She doesnt want to keep all of it, but she doesnt really want to sit around by herself and go through it to throw it away. Her mail slot has a pile of mail that is 2.5 feet deep at the base of it. So, needless to say, there is no where in her house available to hang out. We dont do holidays there, we dont visit there- there is no where to sit. Now, in this situation, it's again, someone else's fault. The reason her house is cluttered up is because DH and SIL won't come help her. They are "never home" (yk, like adult children arent when they no longer live at home) and she doesnt feel it's her responsibilty to clean up her own house. We've cleaned it several times, but she wont let anyone throw anything away until she has reviewed it- and that takes a long time. DH is paying for a pod to get some of the stuff out of her house so that other stuff can be sorted, but she is pissy about him paying for a pod because she thinks that he needs to come over and help her sort through everything. You know, with his full time job, his hugely pregnant wife, and his two year old. Cause he has nothing else to do.
IMO, these are three very, very different types of hoarding. My mom is mentally ill. My MIL is depressed and never home. What I do see with both of them, is a way for two mothers to control their children's time. Both of them want constant, one on one attention from someone at all times and people feeling forced to help is one way that they can get it. So I know there is a lot of judgment and resentment that goes a long with this, but IME the women who hoard in my life are very controlling and they have no problem with the fact that their problem manipulates someone else's time to an extreme extent. They are both people who feel like their children "owe" them something.
Holly and David
Adaline (3/20/10), and Charlie (1/26/12- 4/10/12) and our identical twins Callie and Wendy (01/04/13)
i agree that they are very different types of hoarding, but i also say that i think both the ones you mentioned are based in mental illness, one just more subtle than the other. everything is on a spectrum. they still need help, it can be just as hard to take the needed steps. and that blaming is a confirmation of the fear and struggle they fight with.
I"m very sorry that you have had to deal with this in your childhood and ongoing in your life Holly, no one deserves that. This is exactly why i have been tackling this finally head on for the last little while, to make sure my kids dont get dumped on them.
So what if I don't fit cleanly into a defined parenting style, my kids don't fit into a personality archetype either!
hey, OP here. i saw this thread, and thought, oh, i could relate to that. i started reading the first post, said to myself -- gift of meat? that sounds like my parents, too. then i realized i had started the thread. LOL.
my parents are elderly. dad is 81, mom is in her late 60s. they have intractable problems. i simply cannot fathom being able to help them in the way that Adorkable describes. dad is depressed and has rage issues, too. we (my brothers and i) all have young families. i have a busy life. i cannot be interjecting myself into their situation in an attempt to help them. i have been there, done that. i grew up in it. it is not my burden to bear.
i will get my due share of grief from this. someday my brothers and i and our spouses and our children will have to deal with the colossal mess. my parents own several properties. they are ALL hoarded up. it is sick and wasteful to the extreme. it is offensive. not to mention it is total chaos.
i struggle with my own reactions to the hoarding. i keep up with my own stuff to a decent degree. it's not perfect, but it's not horrible. i have people over on a regular basis. doing so keeps me "honest" with my housekeeping.
i do have some piles of stuff that are sitting in laundry baskets. mostly jumbled up messes of kids artwork, toys and clothes. i HATE sorting these things. doing so makes me exhausted. i think it's a stress reaction that i have internalized. i have to get better about keeping up with my own stuff, being willing to let things go.
i see this as my bigger issue in life -- learning how to take care of me. i wish i could help my parents. but i just can't. restaurant gift cards sound like a good idea. but my parents lose those in their overflowing slop, too. (you should see their car.)
a box of cookies? THAT will get eaten.
i gave Dad a flannel insulated shirt again for Christmas. Mom got a special book. she likes to read.
Anyway, six years ago they came home from the mission field for my wedding and right after that my other grandmother got to the point where she needed full time care, so my parents took on that responsibility and moved into the farmhouse that my mom had inherited from her parents...and it has been downhill from there. The house is small and with all the stuff in there it is absolutely claustrophobic!! She doesn't have bags of trash or spoiled food around...she does at least attempt to have a clean kitchen...but there is just so much STUFF that it is almost impossible to maneuver in there. By the second year of my marriage my husband and I decided not to give my parents or any of the children still living at home things that were not perishable or something to use up. So it was always things like drinking chocolate or warm fuzzy house socks or something. Still stuff that might go to waste, but hopefully would get used and not lost!!
The funny thing about my mom is that she is such a technophobe that she is super funny about electronics...especially ones she thinks are worth a lot of money. About five years ago she asked my husband for help picking out a simple home computer for the family...which we found for her. She is so funny about it getting messed up that she barely lets "the kids" mess with it...which currently is not even my sister's two kids (who are seven and almost nine and know WAY more than she does about computers, but they don't get on it anyway)...but she barely lets my almost 19 year old brother and my almost 28 year old sister (who moved home with her kids while getting divorced and going to college) get on her now practically obsolete computer for fear they will "ruin" it by putting programs on it that they haven't run past her!! So they pretty much just use their own electronics off the wifi so as not to annoy her.
So this year, knowing we didn't want to give her yet more STUFF that would either be cheap stuff for her to use up or something that would just get lost in the mess...one of my kid sisters came up with a brilliant idea. All seven of her children as well as my dad went in together and got her a Kindle Fire. Now we can just add books to it when we want (we have access to her Amazon account for that) and we put a few apps on it that she MIGHT use. So far she hasn't even tried to check her email on it cause she is too much of a technophobe to do anything we haven't showed her how to do on there and she just got it in November (combined birthday and Christmas from all of us). But dad says that she won't let anyone touch it but her, that it resides on her headboard when she isn't using it, that she has read quite a few books on it already, and that she even takes it to church to read from now that I helped her install the "only true version" of the Bible on it for her over Thanksgiving!! So it was a perfect gift for her.
Granted, this probably wouldn't work for the person a previous poster posted about who lost their new TV for five years...but for my hoarder mom, it was perfect. Now to figure out what to do next year already!! Haha!!
Decluttering my life...