tchotchkeMy approach to helping folks get organized is always the same:  take the less important stuff out of the way, so you can get to the most important stuff.  Many is the time I pick up what appears to be a less important item and ask my client, “Do you love this?” And many is the time the client will respond “No, but someone gave it to me.”

I always respond by saying, “just because someone gives you something, doesn’t mean you have to keep it.”  It’s the thought that counts, which is an old saying but it’s true.  The gift itself is less important.  Friends, family, and other loved ones want you to know you are remembered and appreciated on special occasions.  In most cases they don’t want you to be burdened with a gift after that occasion. (More on that later.)

If you don’t use a system like Amazon’s Wish List, it’s hard to get gifts that people actually want.  Maybe your friend mentioned that she was amused by Sponge Bob Squarepants and you know she likes candy, so you put two and two together and get her a Sponge Bob candy dish.  Perfect! I don’t actually know that such a product exists, but I’m sure you’ve seen this train of thought with some of the gifts you’ve received.

Of course we are obligated to say “Thank you so much!” no matter what we think of a gift, leaving the giver to think “Hey, I done good!” Thus, the misfires continue.

I don’t see the truth as being an effective tool in this situation, but there’s no reason to be burdened with a gift that’s not your cup of tea.  In most cases you can donate it to Goodwill, where someone might actually appreciate it.   The space you have created in your home from this donated item is a precious gift to yourself.

Now I realize there are some unloved gifts that you cannot get rid of.  After my wedding there were a lot of them, some very expensive.  I kept a couple boxes of these hidden and when a wedding guest would visit, my wife or I would pull their gift out and put it on display.  Crazy, but I know the reality is there are some friend that DON’T care if you are burdened with a gift you wouldn’t choose.   That was almost 17 years ago and no one visits much, so those gifts have gradually found their way out of our home.

One final caveat, hand-crafted gifts.  If someone knits you a sweater, no matter how ugly, ill-fitting, and scratchy, that’s love.  Maybe you don’t want to clog up your closet shelf with it, but I’d say it at least merits a plastic tub and mothballs.

What’s your approach to gifts you don’t love?  I’d love to hear from you.