Saturday, April 26, 2008

to keep or to give away?

it happens to most of us. a friend or family member will give us a gift is just not to our taste...sometimes it can be pretty awful. but we know the person picked it out because they thought we would love it..or because it was something they really liked. what to do? keep it and put it out for display or wear it if it is clothing? keep, but store in a closet or attic? give away?

i have such a hard time with this topic. my personal style is pretty clutter free...and i just am not comfortable with a lot of "stuff" around. yet i have major guilt issues with giving away items given as just feels wrong... i believe you can be really grateful for the thought and effort that went into buying or making the gift..even if you do not care for the actual piece. even worse are those items that have been in the family for a long time..not valuable heirlooms...but handmade items...made with love. a perfect example is a doll collection my mom saved for me. these were dolls that i played with as a child. a few were handmade by my grandmothers..some were hand-me-downs from relatives..the rest were purchased by my parents or other family members. my mother lovingly kept all of them for me.. in case i ever had a daughter to pass them to. well, i never had children of my own..and i only have what to do? putting them on display is so not my style..and i can not fathom giving them away..especially the handmade ones. so there they sit..packed away in the attic. seems wrong. i am starting a company where all the items are made from repurposed, reimagined, recycled and/or reused materials and this process has really inspired me to lose the clutter..and donate or reuse to avoid adding to the landfill. i am getting better with giving away the non-sentimental items..i keep telling myself that donating will do some good, and other people will enjoy...but am struggling with the rest of the "stuff". my sister, kathi, has a good solution for her home. when her house was being built, she designed a special cupboard..she calls it the "memory closet"...where she stores items with meaning for items..the crafts her boys made when they were small...anything that she wants to keep..but does not want on display in her home. when she is feeling sentimental she opens the closet and enjoys the contents. when she is through she shuts the all goes away!! unfortunately, the closet is completely full so any other "memories" will be a problem :).

while i feel that giving away/donating to charity the non-sentimental items is good for the planet..i cannot bring myself to tell the gift giver what i am doing. how do you tell someone you just do not like their gift? and i still do not have a good solution for the family "memories". but just writing about the topic is helping.

so today's questions..what do you do when given a gift that you just do not like? what do you do with family hand-me-downs or other sentimental items that do not fit your style? please add your tips, suggestions and/or comments to this post. ( the way..the photo in this post was a free download from the net..could not use an actual photo of something someone actually gave me..that would just be mean...)

napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™"


Joan said...

I am a pack rat. I can never throw anything away. I can barely give anything to charity because I always feel I might need it again later. I hope your readers provide some good suggestions.

Cynthia said...

Hi! I just left a comment on MJF, but thought I'd leave one here as well. Great blog! Off subject-what a cute dog you have. I have a half black lab/half golden retriever. Goldens are such smart dogs.


Bonnie said...

I just thank the person and pack away the item in my "gift" cupboard. The next time I need to give a gift I check out my stash and if I think the person will like it I re-gift and do not give it another thought. Why waste it?

Anonymous said...

I love your sister's memory closet idea!

Anonymous said...

Your sister is brilliant. Someone who comes up with such a fantastic idea like that should write books to help the rest of us.

Linda said...

This is always a touchy subject.
I have gotten very honest with my family/friends and told them how much I love the thought BUT the item isn't something I would wear, use etc.. With very few exceptions they have given me a receipt so I can exchange the gift and when I do exchange it I make sure to tell them what I got and thank them for their generosity.
A friend pointied out to me once that gifts should be given unconditionally and after I recieve it, it is up to me to decide what I'm going to do with it.
Heirlooms are a little different. I hold onto them until I find a place for them or a person in my family that will enjoy the item. If I'm undecided I tuck it away. I'd hate to regret losing an heirloom to a hasty decision.

Anonymous said...

What about totally inappropriate gifts? What if it is a really cool gift but not appropriate to the occasion? My son received a Guitar Hero for a Confirmation gift. What???? What should I do?

snady said...

First, I love your blog. Giving something away that you no longer need/want to someone who might can bring a tremendous sense of satisfaction and good will. Just get it out of the house as soon as you've made the decision. If you are lucky enough to have a lot - share.
One of my favorite charities is smile train. For 250 dollars (get some friends to chip in if you can't do it all), a child will have a cleft palate totally repaired. Imagine, you can change someone's life! I also feel strongly about donating blood. I know not everyone can do it, but if you can, it takes little time, costs you nothing, and can make a huge difference to someone else.