Control the clutter *before* it enters your home!

Here are a few tips and strategies for taming the clutter before it enters your home.

1. Just say “No.”  I mean, just say no to free stuff. Do you really, honestly want that free T-shirt, promotional mug, or hand me down bicycle that’s too small for any of your kids? Don’t feel bad saying, “No, thank you.”

2. Shop smart.  When you are shopping, ask yourself:

  • Do I (we) really need this?
  • Can this replace a worn out/broken fill-in-the-blank? If yes, the item should go straight into the trash or “donate” bin.

3. Set an example. Start a tradition of giving experiences and consumables vs. items that can clutter a home.  Share your reason behind giving experiences or consumables with the gift recipient and ask that s/he follow your lead.  Here are some examples:

  • Instead of kitchen gadgets or gear, give homemade treats or gift certificate to a restaurant at a chef’s table.
  • Instead of toys, give a membership to a local children’s museum, or a gift certificate to an arcade or bouncy house facility.
  • Instead of clothes or jewelry, give a gift certificate to a salon or for a manicure/pedicure.

5. Be appreciative. Always acknowledge when someone gives you or a family member a gift with a heartfelt “thank you” but don’t feel bad about giving it away. What is important is to show appreciation for the giver’s thoughtfulness and gesture. It’s better to give something away for someone else to truly appreciate and enjoy than keep it in your home where it causes clutter. Of course, there may be times when it’s important to keep a gift because of family heritage or because it was handmade, for example hand-knitted items.

It’s so much easier to keep the clutter from entering your home in the first place, because once it’s in and isn’t being used, it’ll get in the way of all the things you actually value.