A blog reader wrote me, "What do I do with gifts I don't like? I feel guilty about tossing them. It feels wrong, like I'm being mean to the person who gave it to me."

It's your home and life. You get to decide what to put into it.  

If it turns out you don't like a gift from someone, it's not your responsibility to hang on to the item to make the other person happy. They took a chance that you would like it. If they knew how you actually felt, they wouldn't want you to hang on to the thing. 

Sometimes it can feel like a gift is a representation of another person's love. It can seem like proof they cared enough about you to give the gift. But that's not a reason to hang on to something you dislike. You can feel good they like you, and then donate the item. 

It can help to know too that when we hang on to a gift we don't like, part of us resents the person who gave it to us for putting us in this situation. Every time we see the gift, we feel irritated that the person gave us something we don't like and that we feel guilty about letting it go.

I worked with a client who told me he was worried that if he gave away a coffee maker, a gift from his brother-in-law, which he didn't like or use, the next time his brother-in-law came over he would see it was gone and get upset. I said it's hard to live in fear about someone's possible reaction. Our responsibility is to take care of ourselves. My client thought about it and then said that his brother-in-law probably wouldn't notice, and if he did, he doubted he would be upset. He put the coffee maker in the donation pile.


I wanted to let you know I'll be appearing as the Clutter Buster on the Raising Whitley Show on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Saturday February 15th at 9pm Central. It's a good opportunity to watch a clutter bust in action!