Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Guilt Over Getting Rid of Gifts

What do you do with gifts you receive that just aren't your style? From ugly jumpers to boring DVDs, if you're anything like me you leave them gathering dust in the back corner of a drawer.

I have been trying to cut down the amount of stuff I own. I will be moving out semi-permanently in the autumn (I'll probably impose myself at home for Christmas dinner and birthdays every now and again!). I will probably be moving into some tiny student pad somewhere, possibly a room in a shared house, possibly a small flat. Either way, space will be an issue!

I want the next phase of my life to be clutter-free, so for the past few months I have been systematically donating a lot of stuff I never wear/use. If I bought it myself, I am ruthless! Haven't worn it in a year? GONE! Never going to read it again? BYE! Why did I EVER buy that?! DONATED!

When it comes to something I have been given, it's a whole new story. I am overly sentimental because so-and-so got me it, or I wore it when I did that, or it was such a thoughtful gift even if I've never used it! This is something I picked up from my Mother (sorry Mum, but you know it's true!). I/we worry that when we get rid of it, we will be hurting someone's feelings, or getting rid of the memory of someone or something that happened.

How can things have so much emotional hold over me? I know a lot of people have this issue. To combat it, I have been trying to use my normal approach of assessing the object's worth to be, rather than the worth of the person who gave it to me!

I like to follow William Morris' famous advice:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

I am sure that the person who gave it to me doesn't want me to feel burdened by guilt! If you flip it on it's head, you probably wouldn't mind someone getting rid of something you gave them that they didn't actually want.

I dunno. What do you guys think? Do you feel like a horrible person for even contemplating donating a gift, or are you a dedicated declutterer?


Sals View said...

The bottom of my wardrobe is stuffed with thoughtful but unwanted gifts. I keep them because when I helped my daughter in law do a boot sale, she was selling something I had taken ages to choose for her. I was also taught to be grateful for gifts, so my inner self is in turmoil too!!

lynda said...

All unwanted gifts either go to who ever admires them or right out to the charity shop; NO GUILT!

Frugal Living UK said...

Not horrid at all, but I know what you mean. I tend to keep any hideous things I was given, for what I call a respectable amount of time (I know this to be ridiculous) and then I will get rid of them. Somehow I justify this as being the amount of time it would have lasted if I had worn/used it. Seeing this behaviour written down makes me laugh at myself because it is crazy logic, but I like what you say about the value being in the person who gave it rather than the object itself.

cumbrian said...

Yes, it seems to be a fairly common trait, I must admit I hesitate to dispose of things given to me as a present.

i like frugalqueens approach, keep it till it would have been finished/worn out.

Not so much a problem nowadays, nobody remembers me anyway, only No 2 son, and his gifts are invariably edible of drinkable.

rivulet said...

I'm totally with you on this one. I have some of thee most ridiculous stuff around my place because it was given to me by someone and I can't get rid of it. major dilemma.

Pamela said...

I used to feel badly about it, but space is a real commodity for me so now I donate them or sell them guilt free. I'm especially guilt-free now, since I've made it crystal clear that I don't need or want any gifts, that I'd rather have someone's presence than their presents.

Practical Parsimony said...

Hoarders are very sentimental. You will probably never be a hoarder, but.... I am overly sentimental about gifts from my children. Or ones from my mother who is dead. However, I do get ruthless about gifts from friends.

Shaheen said...

I've kept gifts for years, namely clothes from family that i was not keen on, but like you had to declutter as the reality was I was never going to use or wear them. Best donated to a charity shop, where I am sure someone would take a liking to them.