I live in clutter...but what do you do about gifts? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't posted in this forum before, but now that I've come across it maybe all of you can help me! We have SO MUCh clutter in our house. It's very organized, so it's not like we live in a dump :LOL but I know that the cute "decorative" boxes on our shelves hold nothing but paper trash and bad photos! So, I have a lot of work to do.

I guess I'm having trouble because it's so overwhelming. Where to start? And if I do get a couple things out the door, it doesn't even make a dent & seems like a waste of time, kwim?

Anyway, my main question is: What do you do with things that were given to you as gifts? Like I just got 4 pairs of socks from 2 different people & I don't like any of them! And I have tons of books, trinkets, just STUFF that has been given to me. My family is very big on gifts, and does not appreciate returns. So how do I declutter without hurting feelings?
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#2 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 05:52 PM
 
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I've given a ton of stuff to charity. It has hurt my moms feelings at times but it has also made her more selective about what she gives to us.

Give the socks away. Some homeless person would love them. Give the books to the friends of the library. Give the trinkets to a thrift store run by your favorite charity. You will feel so much better.

Your family won't know about most of it and they will get over the stuff they do know about.
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#3 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 05:55 PM
 
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Yup! Savor the memory not the item!!!

If your family gets upset, tell them that you loved the item and used it and then passed it along for someone else to love since you were through with it. If they want suggestions for future gifts, give them some that you'd really like. Or suggest family membership to the children's museum/zoo/amusement park--something you guys like to do that doesn't take up space!

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#4 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 06:08 PM
 
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I have the same problem, and it's not just gifts to me. MIL gives the babies far far too much stuff. She disapproves of the small house we live in so the more I tell her we don't have room for more stuff, the more stuff she buys the kids (she seems to think we will eventually be forced to buy a bigger place to accommodate the stuff).

Right now I take all the stuff I don't want and put it in boxes in the basement. If my 3 yo notices it's gone I'll go down and "find" it, and if she doesn't notice it gets donated to charity. I don't know what I'll do when she gets old enough to notice that stuff "disappears".

I have had moderate success controlling gifts from my own family by specifically asking for certain types of non-cumulative items such as chocolate, nice tea, highland single-malt scotch, theatre tickets, expensive balsamic vinegar, massage coupons, scented bath oil and so on. I reinforce this kind of gift giving by continuning to mention how nice it is to have these things and by acting particularly delighted when I open them.

--AmyB
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#5 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 07:15 PM
 
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[QUOTE=AmyB]by specifically asking for certain types of non-cumulative items such as chocolate, nice tea, highland single-malt scotch, theatre tickets, expensive balsamic vinegar, massage coupons, scented bath oil and so on./QUOTE]

I don't know why, but this tickled me!

Flowers, fairies, gardens, and rainbows-- Seasons of Joy: 10 weeks of crafts, handwork, painting, coloring, circle time, fairy tales, and more!
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#6 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 07:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyB
Right now I take all the stuff I don't want and put it in boxes in the basement. If my 3 yo notices it's gone I'll go down and "find" it, and if she doesn't notice it gets donated to charity. I don't know what I'll do when she gets old enough to notice that stuff "disappears".
Just thought I'd throw this in...my Niece still does this with my Grand-Niece's stuff...she just cleans her room while her dd is at school, and makes sure that her dd doesn't see the bags of stuff she's getting rid of. She still doesn't miss the stuff her Mom throws away, and she's 7 now.


I agree with the pp's. Chuck it, donate it, etc. I am in desperate need of doing this myself....
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#7 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the replies. Just to be clear...it's not that I'm not already discarding & donating A LOT of stuff! How does this all accumulate anyway? Dh & I have been horrible packrats our whole lives (until a few years ago) and it's really coming back to haunt us now.

So I guess the majority opinion is to toss/donate & if the giver notices, dodge the subject :LOL Kidding...actually I like your idea, Crunchy Clark, to tell them that I loved the item and used it and then passed it along for someone else to love since I was through with it. I retyped that here so I can try to memorize it and use it later.

Thanks for the inspiration. I'll try to make a dent in our clutter this weekend. Ugh.
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#8 of 24 Old 02-17-2005, 10:11 PM
 
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Then can you come to my house and do mine too!? I think it's actually easier to go and help a friend declutter....you aren't emotionally attached to the stuff and will be more brutal! I'm hoping my cousin will come help me in the coming weeks. I have a major clutter problem in our 'storage' room....and with hubby gone...I'm hoping to make a dent...and donate...and hope he'll be like the kids..."What blue sweater? Um....didn't you get rid of it when it got a hole in it??"....and maybe he won't notice stuff is gone....lol

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#9 of 24 Old 02-18-2005, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrunchyClark
hope he'll be like the kids..."What blue sweater? Um....didn't you get rid of it when it got a hole in it??"....and maybe he won't notice stuff is gone....lol
:LOL good luck!
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#10 of 24 Old 02-19-2005, 07:50 PM
 
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I re-gift. I just give the item I recieved from X which I have no liking or use for to Y, whom I know will appreciate/use/like it. I'll also return things w/o telling that's what I did.

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#11 of 24 Old 02-19-2005, 07:54 PM
 
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Ravin, that what we do here! Just re-gift to a different circle than it came from so no one gets embarrassed. yay!
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#12 of 24 Old 02-20-2005, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I need to re-gift. But first I need to train myself to stop taking off tags & washing things the second I receive them. Usually I've unpacked, de-tagged & washed before I realize I'll never use this!
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#13 of 24 Old 02-21-2005, 03:08 PM
 
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Regifting is great, putting together packages and raffling them at work or something for a good cause, or just donating them to charity is good also. Consignment & ebay are also options, but time consuming so svae it for the really good stuff. Freecycle is an awesome way to get rid of stuff if you have a good one going in your area.
So far as hurt feelings, I always think to myself - the person who gave me this gave it to enjoy, not be a burden. If it is cluttering up my house and bringing me heartache, it is not a gift anymore. They may be disappointed that I didn't like it, but that doesn't mean I have to keep it around and sacrifice my space and feelings for theirs. 9 times of 10 I just quietly give my stuff away and no one seems to care. If they do, I point out how thoughtful it was and how I appreciated getting it etc, but it just didn't fit where I was at or it out lived its usefulnes or whatever
Dan Aslet has some good thoughts on getting rid of gifts in his books - if find they get repetitive, but they're great for a pep talk when you are having a hard time letting go.
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#14 of 24 Old 02-21-2005, 03:14 PM
 
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A lot of the stuff that Sophie got for Christmas was regifted or we took to my parents house so she could have toys there to play with. Let them deal with the clutter. I was scared to get rid of gifts. Would people notice? I didn't want it to be awkward. So I tell them that we rotate Sophie's toys and there is almost always 75% hidden in her closet. Which is true because she will only play with like 3 toys for a week and ignore the rest so we do swap them out.
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#15 of 24 Old 02-21-2005, 05:05 PM
 
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Hi, coming in a bit late on this thread but wanted to add a bit.

I have been getting rid of the precious moments ceramic things ot other strange breakable things that just clutter my life that my mother keeps giving me even though she knows they will get broken here and that I dislike them.
Once I put one of them out for display and my friend laughed at me because she knows they aren't my style.
My mother hasn't said anything about them even though they were 50$ and aren't around my house.

My MIL just gave us a small replica of a statue that is on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO and she paid over 1,000 for it. It's ok, a copper sculpture of a girl swinging in a chair but really I don't think it is beautiful.

I read in Simple Abundance one time that we shouldn't have things around that we don't think are beautiful.

I have just spent the last 2 months declutterring to the point that everything is noticeable and all I really care to see anymore is the beautiful stuff.

Just my .02.
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#16 of 24 Old 02-21-2005, 07:03 PM
 
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I got the de clutter bug about 2 years ago. I starting tossing stuff and then kept going and never looked back. Most of the stuff we never used. I did notice that 75% of the stuff I donated/tossed/gave away was gifts that we had received over time. So I thought some more and when I went to the giver's homes of these gifts, I noticed that the gifts I gave were also stashed put away somewhere. So I did a bold thing. We announced that we were not giving any gifts that year for the holidays nor would we accept any. I then explained what I had encountered. There was some resisitance but man was it nice not to have to worry about that the last 2 holiday seasons. It was also nice not to get more stuff that we don't need. Nor try to return them!
One thing that we did buy the last two years- we took a tag off the giving tree at church for a girl DD's age. We spend about $100 getting what that child wants. This year it was a snow suit, gloves, sweater, and two toys she asked for. That was so much more enjoyable.

We now do a small valentine and Easter treat and a birthday gift for cousins and a consumable for the adult family member (purfume, wine etc) that they would enjoy or know they use. Its so much easier!

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#17 of 24 Old 02-21-2005, 07:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyB
chocolate, nice tea, highland single-malt scotch, theatre tickets, expensive balsamic vinegar, massage coupons, scented bath oil and so on. --AmyB
Hey, AmyB, you are MY kinda gal!!!!

I discreetly regift or donate to charity. I keep the unwanted toys and save them for the Xmas toy drives. No friends or family will be allowed at my yard sale this spring, or there will be hurt feelings I'm sure!
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#18 of 24 Old 02-21-2005, 07:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stretchmark
My MIL just gave us a small replica of a statue that is on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO and she paid over 1,000 for it. It's ok, a copper sculpture of a girl swinging in a chair but really I don't think it is beautiful.

I read in Simple Abundance one time that we shouldn't have things around that we don't think are beautiful.
Gawd, my IL's collected these big, expensive crystal figurines for years. We've got a bunch of smaller ones from them. IMO, one or two are lovely, but a collection of them is a bit... tacky. I dread when we have to inherit the rest. And DH is very sentimental, so can't let go of anything, and will take the whole lot one day I'm sure.

William Morris said, " Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." I try to work with that.
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#19 of 24 Old 02-21-2005, 08:24 PM
 
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I have no problems getting rid of gifts I dont like unless of course dh gave it to me but i think hes only given my one thinmg I didnt like, hes got good taste

But I dont re-gift as I think its tacky but I will give it away to charity.

I am teaching my dds that when a toy or something breaks it needs to be thrown away. That way when something does break it isnt a painful for them to get rid of it. Granted there are items i can fix and do.
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#20 of 24 Old 02-22-2005, 02:29 AM
 
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ok, so i lie..

when i have in fact thrifted, donated, returned, or regifted yet another plastic toy from my husband's family, and they notice its absence, i say:

He lost it
or
We left it at his friend's house last week by accident
or
i'm not sure where that is right now

i suppose i could do more to stop the flow in the first place if i were just honest, but they already think of me as such a snob for not wanting plastics in the first place (which is why they feel compelled to buy ds lots of them?)

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#21 of 24 Old 02-22-2005, 02:15 PM
 
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I tell people over and over we don't need/want stuff, so I have no problem getting rid of it if they don't listen. Example... I told my father not to get lots of things for Fallon when she was born as we were in a one bedroom apartment and had no space. What did he bring by a week later? A 3.5 ft. tall teddy bear that basically took up an entire corner of our bedroom. We had no problem sending it off to Good Will.

I recently took all of Fallon's plastic toys and moved them to the party room in our building. Now they're there for the kids to play with at events, play group, etc. and aren't clutter in our house. Some books have also moved to the downstairs library. Other things get freecycled, go to Good Will, donated for community raffles, or when appropriate are re-gifted (i.e. when I know someone else will love it, not just because I need to come up with a gift).

I love the idea of asking for memberships, event tickets, etc. A girlfriend and I decided a couple years ago that we wouldn't exchange birthday gifts, but we would do something together instead. It is so much nicer to get together for dinner and a movie than to worry about where I'm going to put another decorative candle!

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#22 of 24 Old 02-22-2005, 06:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You are all so brave I guess I just live in fear of my family. But I'm going to go for it anyway & hope they don't notice. I really, really like the idea of asking for memberships & consumable stuff. I'm going to start a list so I'll always have ideas handy.

I did make a sizeable dent over the weekend. It included many gifts, but they were so old I'm sure no one will remember!
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#23 of 24 Old 02-23-2005, 04:14 PM
 
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"My MIL just gave us a small replica of a statue that is on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO and she paid over 1,000 for it. It's ok, a copper sculpture of a girl swinging in a chair but really I don't think it is beautiful. "
Funny how people's tastes are different - I love that sculpture & would've thought anyone would have loved it too! You just never know, I guess Funny how unwanted gifts are such a common issue, but no one thinks they are a crummy gift giver. I think sometimes the giver is just super attached to something & can justify buying it for themselves, and can't imagine someone they love not loving it as much, kwim? There are certainly things that I have sent back to my mom's house that are nice, but not my style, so I've asked that they live there so they don't get broken here
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#24 of 24 Old 02-23-2005, 04:19 PM
 
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Lessons are another good gift - mil&fil bought swimming lessons for dd at christmas.
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