The gift that keeps on giving…

Just a few of the perfectly good items I'm passing on to friends this week!

Sometimes getting started on the spring cleaning is a challenge. If it’s been a few years (decades?) since you did any sort of decluttering, it is even more terrifying daunting. It’s so hard to let go of things, especially if they have sentimental value. And you might not yet be ready to hang on to the happy memory while at the same time letting go of the item associated with that memory.

What if you started by doing a friend (or two, or three) a huge favor? Do you have baby things sitting in boxes even though you know you are done having children? Do you have enough books to give each of your good friends something to read over the summer holidays? Do you have books that would be better used on the shelves of your child’s library? Do you have trousers that aren’t quite right for you, but would look great on your pal? Did you come across some old photos that you could easily scan into your digital filing system, email to the other people in the photo, and then discard?

I know you do, because just about everyone does. So why not start your spring cleaning by passing on some of the items that are contributing to your clutter? Your friends will get a kick out of the impromptu gift and you will make some space, while at the same time getting the ball rolling for some additional purging.

The Rules

You knew there had to be some!

  1. If you wouldn’t like to receive it as a gift, don’t pass it on. We’re not purging junk (yet), we’re purging good, usable items that we no longer need or for which we have no room. Think gently used 2011 bestseller, not your copy of Huckleberry Finn from 7th grade.
  2. Send it NOW. Do not make a pile of 50 items to send/give to friends and then forget about it in the basement. You will find it next year when the spring cleaning urge strikes and regret it!
  3. When in doubt, ask. I would usually gladly accept a used book from a friend, but I’m moving in 6 weeks. If you’re not sure if your friend will want the item, ask them first. Depending on the friend, giving them permission to say no thanks up-front might help!
  4. Let go of things with a shelf life sooner rather than later. That booster seat your 9 year old just outgrew will only be safely usable for a set amount of time. Likewise, clothing (children’s or adult’s) is only fashionable for a short window. Well, unless you’ve kept it long enough for it to come back in style. Then, perhaps, we should talk!! But I digress. Move the baby gear and other items now, not next year when it is less likely to be usable.

Real world example

This week, I decluttered most of my flat. I have a tremendous pile of stuff that is neatly packaged to go to the local charity shop, but I also have one shelf of items to give to friends. Those items include:

  • My Finnish language materials – oh yes, they’ve already been replaced with their German equivalents.
  • A pair of shoes that I bought last year that don’t fit right, but are super cute and still fashionable!
  • A dozen or so recent novels that I’ve already read.
  • Several pairs of trousers that are now too big.
  • A couple of children’s books that my kids have outgrown, but that are still in good condition.
  • A couple of children’s toys that were received as duplicate gifts and can now be passed on.
  • A few items of the kids’ artwork that I don’t want to move to Germany, but that are cute enough to adorn relatives’ fridges.

It’s just a dozen or so items, but it’s a great place to start. See if gifting a few things you no longer need will get the ball rolling on your spring cleaning project!