Creative ways to get rid of clutter

Two of my dear friends moved from Washington DC to California. At their going away party, they gave gifts to all of the attendees — literal parting gifts.

In the parking lot of their apartment complex after the party, my husband and I decided to open our gifts. Both boxes were filled to the brim with ephemera. My box included: 3 yen, a knitted mitten Christmas tree ornament, 4 ticket stubs, a scratched CD, a bright pink magnet in the shape of a button, and about a pound more stuff. My husband’s box held: a broken Palm Pilot, a cracked copy of Microsoft Excel, a sticker that said “I used to be punk rock,” and two handfuls of other random trinkets.

The next day, I called my friends to find out about these special packages. They explained that as they were packing their lives for the move, there were items in their apartment that they knew they should throw out but couldn’t get themselves to do it.

“We had bizarre emotional attachments to all of the objects in the boxes,” one of the two explained. “We couldn’t throw the stuff away, so we wrapped it up to give to you and the others.”

“You know we all just tossed or recycled the stuff in the boxes, right?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “But giving the stuff away as gifts was the only way we could get rid of it.”

“I get it,” I said, not really getting it at all.

A few days later, the idea started to resonate with me. Whatever it took to get the clutter out of their future home was a good idea to me. Seeing as I had no attachment to any of the objects in my gift box, I tossed and recycled the stuff immediately. A few conversations with other friends from the party, and I found that they did the same. The stuff had been dealt with and was out of my moving friends’ lives. The process of uncluttering was unconventional, but effective.

Have you encountered or tried a non-traditional uncluttering method? What do you think of my friends’ ephemera boxes as a method of getting rid of clutter — especially clutter with a misplaced emotional pull to keep? Any suggestions for how to say goodbye to clutter in a creative way? We would love to read your ideas in the comments!

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

62 Comments for “Creative ways to get rid of clutter”

  1. posted by Erika on

    I use this method to get rid of stuff all the time! I hope I do a better job (ie. less obvious) but it’s one of the best ways I’ve found! Eg. Get rid of a too-pink lip liner and matching eyeshadow (unused of course). I buy a complementing lipstick and give to someone whose skin tone actually suits it.

    Or another one is to grab a candle or two that have been sitting around forever, buy another that brings the two together in a set of three and give those to someone I know that uses candles. As long as everything is in excellent or brand new condition, why not?

  2. posted by Rebee on

    That’s amazing and hilarious as well. I would have been too polite to simply recycle the stuff.

    I don’t understand how people get so attached to so much stuff. I guess it’s because of the memories they have. Write all the memories down, and then throw out the stuff! It’s much better that way.

  3. posted by Deb on

    Does leaving it behind for a hurricane evacuation count?

  4. posted by Amber on

    I totally get this – I’m the type of person who always buys new moisturizers, shampoos, conditioners, etc… before I finish the ones I have. I feel guilty just throwing away something that’s still useful but I know that other members of my family would love to try new products and would use up the things I no longer need.

    It makes spring cleaning a lot easier and my family loves getting a selection of “trial size” beauty products each year.

  5. posted by Karoleen on

    I totally get their idea… They don’t have to deal with the fact of throwing away their memories or junk… it’s much easier to just “give it away”. I like the idea but i’m not sure if I could give away my “trash” to my friends… 😉

  6. posted by Dan on

    I would be a bit more than nonplussed to be handed a box of someone else’s junk. I understand the reluctance to throw away nostalgic clutter but turning it into a disposal problem for one’s friends doesn’t seem very … friendly.

  7. posted by Emma on

    What a strange present to open! I would have thought a note inside would have been a good idea too. I love the idea and what a great gift to give to your friend, helping them move (though is a forced gift still a gift!)

  8. posted by LDH on

    Recently, I found a set of paper dolls that I just adored as a child. They were not in good shape (because they had been played with so much), but it was hard to toss them because I remembered playing with them so much as a kid. I finally did toss them when I found out I could order similar sets online, and so this Christmas I will order a few and give them to Toys for Tots or some other gift giving organization. That’s literally the only way I could bear to see them go in the trash.

    I go through paper clutter similar to that story. When I find an old notebook full of stupid notes or a file folder with papers from high school, I mail them off to a friend who would get the joke and see how much we’ve changed since then. I feel better knowing they have gotten one last laugh instead of going straight into the trash, and hopefully the other person enjoys receiving a blast from the past in the mail.

  9. posted by Fit Bottomed Girls on

    Huh. That’s interesting, although I’m not sure I’m brave enough to give my friends the “trash” that I can’t bear to get rid of. I usually just stick it in a box with the date that I boxed it on. If I haven’t gotten into in a year, then I throw it away. I obviously can live without it!

  10. posted by sunsail on

    At first I thought it was a bit bizzare, saddling your friends with broken and useless stuff. But, I can see how this works. My boyfriend, for example attaches sentimental value to ANYTHING given to him as a gift. Case in point: for Valentine’s day, we agreed to not go the consumerist route and just spend a quiet night in. Even though we agreed not to spend anything, I picked up a sixpack of his favorite bottled beer. Unbeknownst to me, he did the same thing for me. When the beer was gone at it was time to throw the empty carton away, he protested all the way to the trash! “But it has sentimental value!!” he whined. SERIOUSLY??? C’mon, now!

    For him, I think this tactic would make perfect sense. Give away the stuff that has “sentimental value” to people you love as an “emotional transfer”, as it were. Of course, it will be meaningless crap to the people you give it to, thus the stuff will get recylced without having to do it yourself!

  11. posted by Debora on

    A few months back I went through a big pile of old clothing. Amongst them a few sweaters and pullovers that I had loved to wear so much. The only reason I ever stopped wearing them was because there were becomming see-through in places (like the elbows).
    I tend to get very emotionally attached to things and had a hard time throwing them out. I finally decided to take a photograph of these sweaters and pullovers. After that I had little trouble throwing them out. Though I doubt I’ll ever look at the photos, just knowing I have them is enough and they barely take any space on my pc.

  12. posted by Mo on

    I think it is a decluttering mistake not to have someplace for that sort of stuff. I have a shoebox covered in felt that I made for a girl scout project. It has ticket stubs, that sort of thing in it.

    Putting a limit on silly sentimental stuff is better than not allowing a place for it in your life.

  13. posted by Elizabeth on

    This weekend I had a yard sale, and what I did was put prices on my stuffed animals that I was so sad to see go, but whenever I saw a little kid pick them up and ask their mom I would come up with some outrageously low price to give them. I just wanted to make sure that they all went to somebody that would love them, so getting to see the kids react first really helped me let them go for a nickel. (I would have given some away too, but everybody seemed to be happy with the nickels or dimes).

  14. posted by Peter on

    While i think this is a great idea, as is anyway that accomplishes a goal that you have (such as uncluttering), i have to wonder if this works more than once.

    I imagine the next time you get a gift at one of their parties, you will think 2x about taking it home :).

    At least my friends would. However, my wife would probably love to go through the old stuff and wonder why on earth they had it in the first place.

    http://yinvsyang.com/

  15. posted by Beth on

    I had a friend whose mom was on a declutter kick but her dad was the hoarder in the house and didn’t want her to get rid of anything. Once my friend was graduated and out of the house, she and her mom basically conspired to help her mom declutter. So the routine was mom packs up a box of stuff “for daughter”, mom and dad bring stuff to daughter’s new place, and once mom and dad leave, stuff goes to goodwill or to the dumpster.

  16. posted by Pam on

    We have a friend who had an open house for the last day he lived in his apartment before moving to another city. At the party he had a couple of tables of things he didn’t want to take that were up for grabs. It was kind of a free, inside yard sale for his friends. We each got to choose to take whatever we liked and could use, and he found homes for some of the things that were too good to throw away. I got a gigundo vase that I never would have bought new but got to try out because it was free. I discovered that it works really well (too big for cats to tip over)–and I think of him whenever I use it.

  17. posted by Erika H on

    This is why I accept every gift my husband’s grandmother gives me – she has so much stuff in her house that is just to the brim crowded. Even if I don’t want or need it, since I know it comes from her closet, I take it and donate it or toss it later – I figure it’s my gift to help her.

    I also will take “extras” when offered if I’m picking up items from a freecycle donor – even if I don’t want it, I can certainly drop it by Goodwill on my way home, and then that person is free of the clutter.

  18. posted by gordy on

    I had an afghan someone had made for me. The colors just didn’t work but I had a hard time giving it to Goodwill. This weekend friends asked if I had unwanted curtains (yes and they really like them) and I gave them the afghan-which they also liked. A lot of friends in our circle do this sort of hand me down thing. The trick is to not take more in than you give away/donate.

  19. posted by Shanel Yang on

    Amazing that they took the time to put all that stuff in boxes and wrap them as gifts! Probably would have taken less time to take photos of them all and then ask a good friend to “take care of them” (meaning throw them all in a Hefty bag while I’m not looking and toss them) in exchange for my doing the same for him/her someday. : )

  20. posted by Lisa C. on

    I think this is an interesting idea, but I think the giver should include a note with the gifts explaining what they were doing. Otherwise, someone might think they were being slighted–“My friends are moving away and they give me broken cr*p as a parting gift? What do they think of me, anyway?”

  21. posted by lesliet on

    When my brother and I cleaned out my father’s house a few months ago after his death, we were pretty good about taking stuff to the dump, goodwill, etc. And we loaded up a truck for the stuff we wanted to keep. In the end, we were left with two ship models. They were beautifully detailed models, with rigging and everything, that obviously had taken hours and hours for my dad to assemble. But they were also in poor condition and would have taken a lot of work to get back into display-ready appearance. Neither one of us could bear to throw them out, but we didn’t really want to keep them, so we ended up leaving them on his basement workbench. The person who buys the house will obviously throw them out, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.

  22. posted by Stacy on

    I think this is a clever way of 1) getting rid of stuff that you just can’t part with, and 2) staying in contact with friends.

    If your friend gives you something completely bizarre, you feel compelled to call them and talk about it.

    It would certainly make your conversations more interesting than, “How’s the weather? Oh, you’re doing good. Yea, me too.”

    Now you can have a conversation of “Really, an old Back Street Boys CD? I can see by all the scratches that you had a fun frisbee tossing day. You shouldn’t be throwing things in the house, ya know?”

  23. posted by Ann at One Bag Nation on

    Oh my gosh, I would never do that. I have so much anxiety about the stuff I need to toss and I wouldn’t ask someone else to toss it for me. (except my friend Meagan who has very little sentimental attachment to things)

    I’ve received baby clothes that should have been thrown away – not even good enough to donate. What a thoughtless thing to do to a new mom . . .

  24. posted by kris on

    I like the idea as well. But I also know that my husband would see the sentimentality of the objects (good, bad, broken or chipped) as “special gifts” from the friend and want to keep it in our house. Evidence: He kept 4 broken computers from his brother’s pre-move decluttering.

  25. posted by Christy on

    I had 15-20 boxes of kids clothing…every item my children ever wore I had not had the heart to part with. It took up half my basement and not having any family with children, I didn’t know what to do with it all.

    I finally got sick of having it all there. So I e-mailed a whole gaggle of my girlfriends with small kids or who were pregnant and told them “XXX date & time, I’m putting on the tea pot and bringing all my kids clothes upstairs. Come on by and dig and whatever you find as long as it isn’t some precious heirloom, it’s yours”.

    It was a HOOT! They all took home bags of beautiful clothes and I kept a small box for memories. It has been a very COOL thing to see all those clothes that I disrespected by sitting in boxes, get a new life on the bodies of little people we love. And we made it into a party. Instead of me feeling nostalgic and sad, it was FUN and exciting! My only regret is that we didn’t make martinis. ;o)

    It was probably one of the most freeing experiences of my life, and the beginning of an amazing purge that lets me live in the now.

  26. posted by Brooklynchick on

    I’ve been planning to take old t-shirts, bedspreads, and other un-usable cloth I’m attached to and pay someone to make it into a small quilt for me.

  27. posted by Sarah on

    I helped a friend get rid of some emotional clutter in this way several years ago. He was still carrying his wedding picture around in his wallet long after the marriage was over. He said to me, “I don’t want to be carrying this anymore, but I can’t bring myself to throw it away.” I told him I’d take it and at some point I’d get recycle it, but he wouldn’t have to know where or when.

    I think I might have recycled it the minute I got home, but I honestly don’t remember.

  28. posted by Tiffany on

    My husband and I also received these parting gifts. I can only say that the contents of the boxes did not at all come across as a way to get rid of “broken crap.” It was more an eclectic collection of ephemera that chronicles our friends’ lives- it really was delightful to rummage through the boxes and see what kind of silly surprises were in there, and there was never any kind of expectation that we’d actually hold on to all that stuff. I suppose it makes more sense if you know these two friends of ours, but in some way, that’s what made it such a great idea. Of COURSE we’re going to toss/recycle most of the contents of the boxes. But a few things we’ll keep, and this will be an entertaining story we tell about our friends for a long time. Which is really the best kind of gift, isn’t it?

  29. posted by The Green Cat on

    When my parents paid off their mortgage, they had a “house cooling” party. My sister and I wrapped up useful but unwanted items that my folks had at the house (and wanted to get rid of). As each guest left, we gave them one of these gifts. My folks were able to declutter and our friends adn relatives got useful items to use, keep , or discard as they saw fit!

  30. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    I personally like this idea. I think a note would have helped explain things. The good news for me, is now all my Christmas shopping is done. I just hope my mother will cherish my Tim Couch bobble head doll as much as I did.

  31. posted by L on

    I have a more targeted, if slower, approach. Say a friend is at my house talking about how she’s looking for a particular book or product. If I own it and don’t use it I give her mine. It saves her money and time, limits waste, and declutters. I think it also helps me detach slowly from the idea of owning quite so much stuff.

  32. posted by brittany on

    Erin is sweet to share the story of our gift boxes here. I do hope it came across moe as Tiffany describes – a way of telling the story of our lives spent in DC through an assortment of the artifacts we collected.

    The idea came to us when we were cleaning and found a flask I brought from a trip to Russia, emblazoned with Soviet iconography. I knew I did not want to keep it, but felt uncomfortable donating a flask to charity and just tossing it seemed wasteful. A couple other items wound up in this “how to dispose?” pile before I got the idea of putting together boxes and giving them out as party favors at our going away party.

    Once the plan was hatched, it became a great game to play while cleaning: Who could find a sillier, more bizarre or random thing to add to the boxes? Along the way, we found concert tickets, fliers, stickers, letters, buisness cards and the like which we would happily have thrown away, except that they created the narrative that held the things together and gave our friends more depth if why we did this.

    We knew each person would probably take one thing (if that) and get rid of the rest. Fine with us. We could have thrown the stuff away ourselves, but we used it to give the people we love a moment of entertainment and share a little of the life we were leaving behind before the stuff hit the rubbish bin. Some of our friends even loved the stuff, so it will enjoy a bit more use before disposal.

    On another note, those who ask if it is intimidating to have”Professional Unclutterers” Erin and PJ over to your house all the time? This is the answer. We found it hilarious to send two boxes o’ clutter home with them – and they still like us.

  33. posted by Erin Doland on

    @brittany and @Tiffany’s descriptions of the stuff are much better than mine in the article. I should have had Brittany write the article for me!!!

  34. posted by infmom on

    When my mother moved back east ten years ago she couldn’t afford to move all her stuff, so she left a lot of it here in California with us. For years and years it all sat in beat-up boxes on the shelves in our storage room and garage.

    Eventually I decided that it could at least be in nice new boxes instead of the dumpster discards she’d used, so I started going through everything box by box.

    Some boxes were obviously the contents of wastebaskets or junk drawers. One box was full of memorabilia from the year she toured with the Rustavi dance troupe–multiple copies of everything. There were assorted gizmos that she’d obviously gotten as freebies in some mailer or other, and a lot of dry pens, broken pencils and so forth.

    So I threw stuff out, shredded some of the old bills, and donated two boxes of books to the library. I managed to cut the number of boxes of stuff down by half.

    My mom’s gone now, and eventually I’ll have to get up the nerve to go through all that stuff yet again and see if any of it is worth saving. I’ll make a list, let my brothers pick what they want, and donate or discard the rest.

  35. posted by Tiffany on

    I should probably also mention the maniacal grin on Brittany’s face as she gave us our boxes. By the time we opened them, I was just relieved it wasn’t a puppy.

  36. posted by Joyful Abode: Domesticity by Trial and Error on

    I do something similar to that actually… though I have no issues with throwing away junk and broken stuff.

    Sometimes I’ll collect a big box of perfectly good stuff that I just don’t want anymore. A scarf I no longer wear, a travel alarm clock I never use, magazines I’ve already read, etc. And then I’ll ask my far-away friends “who wants a junkbox?”

    And they all go “oh me me!!!” and I divvy up the stuff and send them what I think they’d like, along with a mix CD I made (songs from a junkbox Vol. 3, for example). Everyone loves it and I get the crap out of my house.

  37. posted by Wendy on

    I have a hard time getting rid of things too. I really liked this idea of junk boxes, and sometimes I gather the things that I don’t need or want anymore and give it to my friends, and let them know they don’t have to keep any of it, but if they find something that is useful to them, Great. I’ve even giving boxes to friends to take to Goodwill because I couldn’t personally do it. I don’t know why that helped, but it did.

  38. posted by Egirlrocks on

    Although I “get it”, I don’t agree with this method of decluttering. I’d be annoyed that their worthless crap was now my responsibility to deal with.

  39. posted by Erika on

    I find it much easier to get rid of things, especially sentimental items, if I can sell them or give them to someone who will appreciate them. However, I agree with others here about the inappropriateness of giving people your garbage, especially in the case of broken consumer electronics (the Palm Pilot). Those things contain toxic elements, cannot be thrown in the trash, and are often a pain to recycle.

  40. posted by Erin on

    I had a “last blast” party at the house I was moving away from. I put a bunch of stuff on some shelves in the dining room and posted a big “FREE” sign. People were loving it and I got rid of most of the stuff.

  41. posted by Craig on

    As the other party involved in this, I’d also like to note that we made a point of putting at least one good thing into each box. We had a lot of DVDs which we’d already watched and didn’t need anymore and CDs which we had digital copies of, and every person got, at the very least, a decent movie or record.

    Also, everyone who got one of these boxes had already been drinking all the liquor we couldn’t move with us, so burdening them with some clutter after having spoiled them with copious booze basically doesn’t weigh on my conscience in the least.

  42. posted by Lisa on

    My mother, who is on a very limited income, had a neat idea for birthday gifts for each of her grown children and their spouses. She picked out items of particular interest to each child – for instance I got my senior prom dress, one of my grandmother’s purses, a cookbook I’d always admired when I was growing up, and several other trinkets that she thought would mean alot to me. We all loved it and looked forward to our turn and she cleared out some clutter. Now if I just had a daughter to pass all the good junk on to!

  43. posted by Beverly D on

    The most creative decluttering I have ever done relates to finding a place for some art I had. I owned three limited edition prints that were specific to a geographic location by a local artist. I tried selling them on ebay, looked for local consignment shops, craigslist, all to no avail. Since I don’t live there anymore, they have no meaning for me and don’t fit my current life. I was able to donate them to a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, to use in one of their silent auctions as a fundraiser. Being from the area the prints were local to, they were more than happy to have them, and I felt that they would go toward something dear to my heart. Win-win all around. But I had to be creative in finding the chapter, contacting the leadership, and getting them to agree to accept the gifts.

  44. posted by Ohnalee on

    I’ve left used books and magazines at coffee shops. Just one or two at a time – nothing burdensome to the establishment. I assume the universe directs these things to the person or place best suited.

  45. posted by Tania on

    I think it sounds Rad and I’m glad people who were actually there (both givers and recipients) chimed in to discuss the experience. It sounds like the type of thing where if you’re “not getting it” you’d probably not have been invited or maybe even not be friends with this type of person in the first thing because it seems like something very much geared for the personalities involved. For those who were involved, it sounds like it was quite a personal and wonderful parting bash with a group of friends that also Happend To involve an unorthodox Uncluttering method. I could TOTALLY see me and my friends engaging in something like this. 🙂

  46. posted by Angel on

    I declutter paperbacks by leaving them in coffeeshops, airplane seat pockets, waiting rooms and library book sales.

    Although I would not appreciate a box with busted stuff in it, the old truism “one man’s trash………” could hold true here. My family has a reunion every fall, and people bring their White Elephant stuff for an auction that pays the rent for the hall for the next year’s reunion. One year I had the winning bid for a gallon ziploc bag of costume jewelry ($3). I thought my mom was going to need paramedics, she was laughing so hard. It was from her jewelry box and was all the stuff I had grown up with and played with for “dress up”!

  47. posted by Meghan on

    A couple of friends of mine were in the middle of moving when another friend had a birthday party. When the birthday boy opened the present from them, there were about 20 mugs inside. We all had a good laugh.

  48. posted by Susan on

    I would NOT want friends to give me their unwanted junk. It’s bad enough when friends gift you with stuff they bought but you can’t use or don’t like. If it was usable stuff that they just didn’t want to haul, and they could match up the items with people who could use them or enjoy them, they would’ve been on to something!

  49. posted by Ann on

    Honestly, I’ve done this. After my mother died (suddenly) there boxes and boxes of stuff that my father wanted me to have and/or couldn’t bear to have around and/or couldn’t get rid of himself. Some of the stuff I couldn’t use but also couldn’t bear to toss or give to Goodwill. Finally, in desperation I asked my friend if she would take the items. I emphasized that it was fine for *her* to toss them or give them to Goodwill, etc. I just simply could not emotionally be the one to do it.

    I never asked her what she did with the stuff, she has never told me and I cannot even remember what I gave her.

    Even so, I suspect that if I hadn’t given my “junk” to someone else, I would *still* have that stuff today.

  50. posted by Janet on

    We do something similar. My father in-law cannot throw away things that ‘might be of use to someone’ – so, we take them, and honestly try to find someone to take whatever it is. And if not – into the dumpster it goes (we finally got a dumpster and share it with two other families).

    Also, just recently, I went through some old papers of mine from a previous chapter in my life and pulled the few things I really wanted to save, and then my husband did the actual tossing. Felt wonderful to know I didn’t have to relive that chapter of my life to empty out a darn file drawer!

  51. posted by sm on

    I probably would have appreciated a note explaining the nature of this “parting gift” had I received one. But generally I think that it’s important to support others and to receive support in uncluttering, which is reflected in some of the comments. Who expects to leave a going-away party empty handed anyway? As long as the contents of the box aren’t dangerous, insulting, breathing or hard to dispose of, I’d take one for a friend.

  52. posted by Charity on

    We used to call this Clutter Pimping Parties.Our group of friends would get together at someones house and show off our stuff like Vanna White. Everyone giggled and we all got rid of the random clutter that was “awesome” to someone else. Anything that wasn’t in a purse or designated bad was tossed with GREAT ceremony and pomp. We once even had a funeral for the random bag of scraps.

  53. posted by Sue on

    Easy way to get rid of stuff—-put it on your front lawn a big FREE sign. Stuff vanishes in hours! If you time it right with trash pickup day, whatever is left can be tossed in the can for the trash truck.

    We recycle many things to Goodwill, Salvation Army and a men’s mission night shelter. My son’s clothes that are in good shape go to a local elementary school for the principal to quietly give to kids needing clothing.

  54. posted by Chico on

    One rule I’ve followed with friends and family too who have problems with clutter. *Always* accept what they offer, no matter what it might be or how little you want it. Recycle or store in your trash bin immediately for next pick-up.
    May be the best gift you can give them.

  55. posted by Sandy on

    I am inspired by this post and all of the comments. I have pulled out three gift bags and will fill them with stuff I have been keeping since my mother died 25 years ago. The macrame plant holder to my sister-in-law. Check. The large cocktail rings that I have never worm goes to my niece. Check. This will be great! I won’t feel guilty about getting rid of them and they can do whatever with them.

  56. posted by barbara carlson on

    Here’s a decluttering GAME my partner and I invented.

    Every day at 7 PM — for 30 days — we went to our apartment floor trash shoot with the one item (each) we had chosen that day for “entry”.

    I recorded them as a list-poem entitled Ode to Wabi Sabi.

    Sample entries:

    blank 1998 diary
    wooden snuff box (half full)
    bent UK National Health wire-rim glasses (no lenses)
    Lucille Ball tie
    font ball of ex-electric typewriter
    fashion mistake (blouse)
    magic decoder wheels
    eraserless pencil
    impenetrable magazine
    1/2 box of hard, unflavoured gelatin
    Etc.

    Then we would ceremonially pitch them.
    Each item — as it fell 22 stories — would make a different sound.
    Some things fell straight into the dumpster at the bottom.
    Others took their time, banging the narrow metal shoot sides
    with satisfyingly off-beat drum rhythms.
    Bang…. Bang Bang…BANG… wait for it…
    THUD.

    The floor neighbors began to gather ’round each day to listen.

    The most transcendent effect was a clapped out desk lamp.
    We forgot to remove the bulb (or couldn’t) and it shattered on entry,
    but it continued (in shards) to slowly fall
    in a lovely, giant “rain stick” way —
    tinkling like audible fairy dust all the way down.

    Everybody applauded.
    Performance Art.

  57. posted by Christine in DC on

    I love the clutter pimp party idea!

    My family and I have a white elephant yankee gift swap each year for Christmas, which is a lot of fun.

    I find taking pictures of my sentimental objects helps me get rid of them. I recently gave away some silly things I’d been carrying around in boxes for years, including: a pokey and gumby, a stuffed lobster, some magnets…I was going to continue this list, but I forget! That’s how it works!

  58. posted by Jane on

    Urggh – this reminds me of my husbands parents. They give us all this sentimental rubbish (encyclopedias, amateur paintings etc) that “was grannys wonderful painting” or “pop wanted you to have the knowledge books”, meaning we should treasure it and they will be horrified if we chuck it out. Of course, now they no longer have the prob of it taking up their space…
    Oh it annoys me so much!

  59. posted by Ellis Godard on

    We’ve donated clothing and household items to charity for decades, but only in sporadic bursts of weeding out a closet here or there.

    Now, we keep a large plastic bin in the garage for that purpose. It’s much easier to weed something when there’s always a chance (rather than a few times per year), when it’s only one item at a time (rather than a pile), and when it’s only going about 30 feet away (for now). The bin fills faster that semi-annual piles ever did, and we’re donating as much each month as we used to every 6 months!

  60. posted by Gabrielle on

    A friend and I did something similar to this when we were packing up our dorm rooms before our college graduation. A person can accumulate a lot of stuff over four years of college (free giveaways from the campus bookstore, prank birthday presents, duplicate flatware and plates). For us, it was not practical or cost effective to pack up every little trinket, but a lot of it was still useful for a current student.

    So, we put together all of these miscellaneous items in a big box, and put it away in summer storage for two rising sophomores to open when they returned to school the following fall… sort of a surprise goodie box.

    I received an e-mail from the girls that August, and they said they found a few useful things in the box, and tossed the rest. For my friend and I, it was a great way of passing on our college memories to the “next generation.” The two girls were able to better judge what was no longer useful (just things my friend and I were too emotionally attached to), and still got a few helpful dorm room items to play with!

  61. posted by Ocho Cinco on

    I’d send it back to them as a house warming gift.

  62. posted by SJ on

    A friend who taught quilting classes found herself burdened with quite a few UFOs (Unfinished Objects) — partially sewn demonstration quilts, projects using new techniques that she decided that she didn’t care for, etc. She couldn’t throw them away, so she offered them on a quilt listserv. The first people who responded got a free box of something random. Everyone had a great time. Even the woman who got one in colors she hated found that her daughter liked them and the resulting quilt.

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