Do you save things like shoe boxes, empty cardboard rolls, cans, jars and other items that seem perfect for kids’ crafts? Do these things get used by your kids or grandkids? Or, are you saving them for someone else … or a local school or day care?
Gather these items and bring them to their new home (you may want to check first to see if the items would still be useful). Or, if you’ll have kids or grandkids at the house sometime soon, make plans to bring out these supplies with markers, glue, and other craft materials for some kid-focused entertainment. It could also be useful to print out some directions for craft projects you’ve found online to inspire the kids. Establish limits by storing these supplies in a single storage bin.
Having pulled out an old roll of masking tape only to discover that it was impossible to pull off a piece that didn’t tear at an odd angle or that didn’t pull off several layers of tape with the strip, I learned that masking tape’s stickiness doesn’t last for long.
If you keep a roll or two of masking tape, give it a pull and a tear to check that it’s still in usable condition.
If this task doesn’t apply to you – Check through your office supplies to make certain they haven’t multiplied when you weren’t looking.
Maybe you bought a new light socket to fix a lamp that instead got moved (damaged) into the garage. You saved old light bulbs to turn into cute hanging vases. Are you really going to turn those pallets into patio seating? And, when are you going to transform those PVC pipes into an outdoor sprinkler for your kids?
DIY supplies are different from hobby supplies in that you purchase these supplies for a certain project or hack that you have never managed to carry out.
Do the project, schedule the time for the project, or get rid of these supplies.
My mother-in-law gets lots of donation requests from different charities, and often the envelopes contain address labels or pads of paper. The address labels are useless (since she passed away two years ago … we had her mail forwarded to our house … and, yes, I’ve put her name on ‘do not mail’ lists and I’ve even listed her as deceased with the post office, but we still get this mail.
I keep the pads of paper, I mean, they are useful, right? After writing the previous sentence, I had the feeling that we had a lot of those pads of paper, so I went and counted them. Sixteen.
Stationery also includes notebooks, journals, legal pads, memo books, and actual letter-writing stationery. Do you use these items?
Organize them from fewest blank sheets of paper to most and use up the nearly empty ones first. If you won’t use them (or you have stacks), see if your child’s teacher would want them or bring them to work, or give them to a child who loves drawing or writing. Would it really matter if a two-year-old scribbled over the pages? No, the pages will get used.
Okay, I’m not talking about the projects you are currently working on. But, maybe, you have a sleeve you knit three years ago that is stuffed in a bag of the yarn needed to finish the sweater. You have a scarcely-started needlepoint, Mason jars (and the paint you were going to decorate them with), etc.
Now is the day to acknowledge that you are never going to finish that project. Maybe it was more complicated or involved than you had hoped. Maybe you bought the materials you needed, but you’ve never done anything with them. The supplies sit in the bag from the craft store, mocking you.
Yes, it’s frustrating to think that you wasted the money on those supplies. Holding onto the items won’t eke out any value. Find the materials a new home – ask on social media or around the office or at your kids’ school if someone wants beads or yarn or ______ and chances are someone will raise their hand.
Maybe you are disappointed in yourself for not finishing so many projects. Take a moment to ask ‘why?’. Were you starting projects when you were too busy to devote time to them? Were you creating things that you saw on Pinterest but realized were more involved than you had the time or energy for?
Maybe you look at this stuff and realize that you want to finish the project(s) … put them someplace where you’ll see them and plan to work on them. Can you do so when watching television? Can you bring them to a sports event your child or grandchild is participating in?
If you can’t find the time or make the time to work on these projects, release them.
If this task doesn’t apply to you: get rid of something you don’t like.
I am guilty of having a lot of pairs of scissors.
Can you live with a single pair of scissors? How many pairs do you need?
I don’t know what your just-in-case item or items are. It could be clothing or a hobby item, or something connected to self-improvement. Maybe you’ve held onto the item for six months … or six years … or, ah hem, much, much longer.
I’ve seen the suggestion that if you can acquire a replacement for less than twenty dollars or within twenty minutes, then you don’t have to hold onto an item out of concern for not having it when you need it … if you ever do.
If you got caught up in the adult coloring book fad, you may have a bunch of coloring books that you no longer use. You could pass them along to some older elementary school-age children or preteens who may appreciate the challenge of the complicated designs.
(Really, I’ve been surprised by the enthusiasm some young kids have for these complicated designs. Yes, they color outside the lines or color over some of the patterned details, but they still enjoy themselves.)
If you find you still enjoy the meditative quality of coloring, there’s no reason to give up on it because the fad had passed. However, if coloring didn’t do anything for you, you don’t need to hold onto these books (or the markers or colored pencils).
You may have purchased a shirt or jacket that came with a spare button. What to do with that button? You may have tossed it into your jewelry box, sewing kit, or junk drawer. Maybe you even have a jar that you fill with buttons.
For a while, my crafting included using decorative buttons and so I filled a jar with all sorts of buttons from plain white circles to buttons shaped like frogs and Christmas trees. When I stopped using them in my crafting, I donated them to an art program where the kids got a kick out of sewing the buttons onto decorative pillows.
Unless you sew, do you really need a bunch of spare buttons? If a button falls off your shirt, would you be able to find its replacement? Toss the buttons, donate them, or find a crafter who would enjoy them.
If this doesn’t apply to you – Pick a time of day when you’d normally scroll through social media and choose to do something else. Take a walk (even if you just go into another room), get a drink of water, color, read.
Susan Caplan McCarthy
I'm Susan, a writer and teacher developing a second career as a Decluttering Coach.