Unintentional clutter comes in many forms with the “accidental collection” clutter trap being up there as a category that has seen many of my clients filled with a mix of emotions ranging from joy to dread.
So what is an “accidental collection”?
It’s similar to other collections with one major difference.
It usually comes in the form of a group of trinkets and other decorative paraphernalia all with the same theme.
The theme relating to a loved or favourite animal, fable, sport or nostalgia.
The major difference?
The ‘accidental’ part!
Perhaps you mentioned one day that you love chickens or dragons.
Or you buy a trinket, a teatowel, a clock, adorned with something you love.
You mention it, show it off, your happiness radiating out from this much loved item.
Seeing this, a little light bulb goes off for your loved ones “Ah ha!”. And they squirrel away an idea for next time they are looking for a gift. They can get you something else along the same theme.
And at first when you get a gift related to this theme, you might be really happy or you don’t want to upset the gift giver. So you keep it, use it/display it.
And from there it snowballs – more related gifts come in and that’s were the joy can start to change to a sense of dread.
Do you have a similar story?
On many an occasion, I’ve stood with a client discussing such a collection and heard a similar story that went a bit like this, “I had one, loved it, told someone, it was close to my birthday/Christmas they got excited. They had just solved the elusive “what to buy me as a gift” conundrum. But it didn’t stop there. Inspired by my enthusiasm for the gift, it became the theme for many others and before I knew it I had a collection”.
Change the day, the location, the client, change the theme but the story is always pretty similar.
The results the same, the client no longer knew what to do with the stuff coming in, it was too much, no longer enjoyable and often the house felt overloaded.
A key indicator that things need to change!
Nearing one Christmas a brave client had THE discussion with the family “no more chickens!” it came with lots of “but what will I get you, I’ve already bought a tea towel with a chicken on it”.
Together we had gone over this scenario and my client was prepared. She calmly listened, apologised for not letting them know sooner, she gave gift suggestions related to either items she wanted/needed or experiences. She talked about the challenging process she was currently going through to make her home, the home she wanted. That she cared deeply about them and knew they cared about her, and what it meant for them to help her achieve her aspirations.
It was a hard discussion, one she was nervous of having – but was it worth it, absolutely! The relief she told me afterwards was worth so much more than the dread of having the conversation.
Doing this well in advance would have been preferable, much better to talk about it before they’ve had a chance to buy you something you don’t want. But sometimes we need to bite the bullet, especially if it looks like there will always be another reason why the conversation can’t be had. The situation is very likely never going to be perfect.
How to stop the “accidental collection”
Setting expectations and communicating is key.
Yes you love and care for the gift-givers
Yes you love the theme of the gift
But you don’t enjoy having an overloaded home.
The tipping point for when a home feels overloaded is different for everyone.
It’s normal to feel concerned people will be offended or even worse hurt if you mention you don’t want similar gifts anymore. It shows you are a considerate and caring person.
But you can be a considerate and caring person who gets their needs met. This does not make you selfish, it makes you someone with healthy boundaries.
It’s not an easy conversation to have but it is worth it, you are worth it.
Find a way of saying thanks but no thanks in a loving way.
Make it easy by giving suggestions on what they could do instead. Talk about your needs and wishes. Let them know you appreciate them and their thoughtfulness.
If you don’t deal with an accidental collection, it is very likely to continue growing!
Do you have an accidental collection?
Don’t delay start today