Reader Nick submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
My full name is Nicholas, and so ever since I was a little kid, my family has been buying me figurines of St. Nicholas, Santa Claus. Large Santas, small Santas, fragile Santas, expensive Santas, cheap Santas, and of course some ugly Santas.
When I moved out I managed to leave the majority of them at my parent’s house, but still have plenty.
How can I get rid of these things without offending my family?
When I was a child, I had intense phobias for tadpoles and frogs. The creek that ran through my grandparents’ farm was full of them, and my cousins thought my screams of horror upon encountering them were hysterical. So, up until recently, everyone in my family gave me frog stuff whenever they gave me gifts.
Like you, I didn’t want to offend anyone, so I kept all of the frog stuff. Which, of course, bred more frog stuff from people beyond my family. Friends would come over, see my collection of frogs, and then buy me frog things for gifts thinking I loved frogs.
This all ended abruptly when I got rid of the frogs.
My friends noticed immediately (since they’re in my house more often than my extended family members) and none of them has ever mentioned it or given me a frog since.
I openly told my family that I stopped collecting frogs and donated their years of gifts to my friend who is a biology teacher to display in her classroom. No one had any objections and I haven’t received a frog from any of them in years. I told them by showing them a “before” picture of my bathroom (where the frogs had been displayed) and then the “after” picture of my redecorated space.
In your situation, you could give your Santa Claus collection to someone who is obsessed with Christmas decorating or to a local store to use in a holiday window display. Take a picture of the collection in its new home so that your family can see that the gifts are still being loved by someone else.
I kept a few of my favorite frogs, but have them covertly displayed throughout the house so that they’re not obviously a collection to visitors. I also photographed the full collection before getting rid of it, so that I could remember who gave me what over the years. You could keep your favorite Santas in a small collection, too, and just bring them out at the holidays.
It’s the grand purge that seems to get people’s attention, however, and will let your family know that you’ve reached Santa Claus overload. Other people don’t want you to feel burdened by their gifts, so don’t worry about saying goodbye to something that is cluttering up your space. Also, get the Santas you left at your parents’ place out of their space — it’s never a good idea to make your clutter someone else’s responsibility.
Thank you, Nick, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column. Good luck to you on your Santa Claus purge! Also, check out the comments for more advice from our readers.
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