Question from a reader:
How do you handle the inevitable “stuff” that people give you? I have many well-meaning family members who love to give me things, but we have zero storage space.
I really don’t have a good answer, but here’s some things that have helped me:
- Even if you just use it for a period of time, it still got used and served it’s purpose for the time it was needed. When we moved (well one of the many times we moved) I was struggling with the idea of getting rid of something that had sentimental value, but was big. When Cameron reminded me that we had gotten good use out of it for about 4 years, it helped me realize that something doesn’t have to be kept my entire life for it to have been useful and served it’s purpose.
- Re-gift things you don’t need. Okay, this is probably a highly debated idea, but I’ve done it. Not that I re-gift everything people give me, in fact I re-gift very few things, but if I won’t use it, I feel like I can give it away without them knowing or being hurt and it would make a good gift for someone else, I’ll keep put in my gift box for future gifting.
- Take a picture of something sentimental and keep the picture instead of the actual object. I haven’t actually done this, but it’s an idea I got from Organized Simplicity and I thought it was pretty clever.
- If you can do it without hurting feelings, make it known that you don’t want stuff. Thankfully our families are very understanding of our lifestyle, probably because they both have been/are missionaries as well. They try to give us small things or things they know we’ll actually use. They also are understanding if we don’t keep something. I remember my parents buying Gracia a play grocery cart and my mom told me that she didn’t mind if we got rid of it when moving. I knew it wouldn’t hurt her feelings and she was giving it to Gracia to play with while we had the space.
So how do you nicely make it known you don’t want stuff? Use your best judgment, as you know your own family and friends, but here’s some ideas:
- If they ask what you want, tell them. Often our family will ask us for ideas of Christmas gifts. This makes it nice, because they then know what we really want and will use and don’t have to guess and run the risk of getting us something we really don’t want.
- Card parties are great! After Gracia was born we moved from Wisconsin to Texas, with a trip to New York in between. In New York my sister threw us a baby shower and called it a card shower to encourage people to bring gift cards. When you’re moving your earthly possessions in one pick-up, gift cards fit in much better than big baby toys.
- At Christmas do a name exchange, yankee swap, set a spending limit or limit the number of gifts. This will help you accumulate less and save money.
- Let them see how you live. Maybe if people start seeing your lifestyle, that you live in a small house, that it’s not full and cluttered, or that you move frequently, they might be more likely to stop and think before giving you all kinds of things.
- Be thankful for their heart attitudes. Just like the reader said “well meaning”. Even if it’s not something you want, remember their kindness behind it.
How do you handle stuff given to you?