Things everyone should own (or not)

How many times have you seen lists like this: Top 10 Kitchen Tools Everyone Should Own? This particular list included a kitchen thermometer — which is something I happen to own, but soon will not. As I reviewed the list I realized I just don’t cook the types of things that require a kitchen thermometer, so it’s just clutter to me.

And that’s the problem with lists like this. Everyone’s work and home lives, and the items needed to support those lives, are unique. If you use “things everyone needs” lists as ideas and suggestions, that’s fine. But no one should feel the need to buy something just because it’s on such a list.

I often see long must-have lists when it comes to baby stuff. NewParent has a checklist that illustrates the problem of taking such lists as requirements. Changing table? Not everyone has room for that, or finds it useful. Some parents are perfectly happy to use a changing pad on a dresser top (or other surface) and a diaper caddy of some sort. Fifteen baby hangers? Not everyone is going to hang up the baby clothes.

Diaper bag? Some parents rely on them (and appreciate that most are spill-proof inside) but others find them to be useless. Many parents get by fine with backpacks, duffle bags, or similar items they already own.

The Minimalist Mom wrote about a great way to avoid baby and little-kid clutter: “We had playdates at each others homes and let the babies try each others toys, exersaucers, bouncy chairs, etc.” If her child loved something from a friend’s house, she could then go get one (if she wanted to) knowing it would be a success, rather than something the child ignored.

Travel must-have lists often amuse me because I’ve done a fair amount of travel without ever carrying many of the items listed. Travel + Leisure has a list of 23 carry-on must-haves, and I would never carry at least five of them:

  • Eye mask and ear plugs: I never need these to sleep. I may have trouble sleeping on a plane, but that’s because of comfort issues, not sound and light.
  • Extra ear buds: I find ear buds uncomfortable. I take headphones or nothing, depending on the situation.
  • Travel document holder: I keep critical items (passport, etc.) in a money belt.
  • Luggage strap: I just have no need for this. My luggage zipper is fine, and I can readily identify my luggage without a strap.
  • Binder clips: This would be pure clutter to me.

This doesn’t mean these are bad suggestions — they just don’t fit my personal travel style and needs.

Lists of must-haves may remind you of things that really would be useful, but they may also include items that would be a total mismatch for your personal situation. Use them wisely and they won’t lead to clutter.

6 Comments for “Things everyone should own (or not)”

  1. posted by heather on

    I think those list titles, at least when you see them online, are more about clickbait than anything else. They’re getting you to click and look at their list. There are SO MANY lists like that it’s hard to imagine someone rushing out in a buying frenzy just because a thing appears on a list. They wouldn’t have any money left!

  2. posted by zilla on

    The binder clamps are very useful in holding the curtains together to keep out the light from that light-standard just outside your window.

  3. posted by Zilla on

    I looked through the T&L list of “essentials”. Most (if not all) I had already thought of. I dismissed some of them. I weighed my suitcase and hefted the contents individually and I’ve decided to replace my heavy flashlight with a light-weight one but I wouldn’t use the headlight given in the list – too heavy to wear on your forehead.

    Regarding binder clips, they are in fact invaluable as the curtains in many hotels fail to close properly. You need the clips to hold the edges together to keep out the light from that light-standard just outside your window.

  4. posted by Carla on

    Here’s a better list for baby stuff. 🙂

  5. posted by Courtney on

    I find these lists of things that EVERYONE must have pretty humorous now that my husband and I live in a 30ft Airstream and have to be very very careful about what we bring in. We got rid of most of the “must haves” in our downsizing in order to move in. It’s amazing what is ACTUALLY necessary when it comes right down to it. I think the lists can give people useful ideas but like heather I think most are click bait. Thanks for pointing out how reading most of these lists will only lead to more clutter in our lives!

  6. posted by Felicia on

    We discovered on our latest stay at a hotel that the pants hanger (usually found in the hotel closet) has binder clips and can be used to close the curtains. Also, we had children with us and I had brought clothespins to close their potato chip bags. Those worked well to hold the curtains closed too.

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