Surprise! I live with someone who has a collection. P has been collecting elephants since he went with his father to China when he was 13. The elephant he brought back, apparently wrapped in a stolen hotel towel, was 8 inches tall and carved out of one piece of wood. Since then countless friends and family members have gifted him all sorts of items with elephants on them. All are very generous and kind people, but P and I did not have the space for most of them. P didn’t have the heart to downsize some of them because they were all gifts, but we didn’t have room. Together we were able to make it manageable. But the question is how do you know what to keep, and what to count as clutter?
- Who gave it to you?
- Presents from close family members, or beloved relatives are worth keeping if they hold sentimental value to you.
- If you bought it at a garage sale and you really wouldn’t notice it missing, you might want to reconsider keeping it.
- Why did they give it to you?
- Was it a present for graduation, did your niece specifically beg her mom to buy it for you, or did someone buy it on their travels? If so, you might want to keep it because the person went the extra mile for you.
- Don’t keep gifts from Ex’s unless you truly are in love with it.
- Can it serve a purpose somehow?
- Keeping an item just because you received it as a present isn’t the best way to determine what should be kept or not.
- Can you use it as decor in your office, your kitchen, or outside?
- Is it of good quality that will last that will not potentially harm your animals or children (think size and toxicity here).
- Can you use it for something other than display?
- Can it be properly displayed if not functional?
- Realize that many collections are utterly useless. One collects something they like that has meaning to them and them alone. My grandmother collected crosses and miniature glass elephants, and my mother collects rhinestone Tiaras, Teddy Bears and vintage hats. I collected Porcelain dolls and miniature tea sets when I was younger- all are now gathering dust.
- Only keep and display the best. There is no point in your keeping something that is broken, unsightly, or cheap unless it is collectible or vintage. Everything else isn’t worth showing to others.
- Display properly or not at all. Either place all your items in a curio, in predesignated areas, or in a cabinet where they are safe. Don’t have it out if you don’t want people to touch it.
Remember not keeping an item doesn’t mean that you have to throw it away. You can always donate it, sell it, or store it.