If you’ve been following Smaggle for a while, you’ll know that I value order in my life above pretty much everything else. I’m not super weird about it but I enjoy empty surfaces and organised drawers and I spend a fair amount of time keeping things in order. It calms me and I also really like living in a clean and tidy house.
There’s one thing though that seems to be the hardest to control – every few months I find myself drowning in other people’s stuff in my own home. Sometimes it’s my own fault because I’ll borrow a jumper from my mate’s place and wear it home but other times it’s totally their fault. Like when they stop by on their way home from the shops and they leave an umbrella, a hat and a few bags of long life milk in a bag on the floor. Then you don’t see them for a month and that’s a full month you’ve got this annoying bag of their shit just sitting near your front door, pissing you off every day as you walk past it.
As it’s a New Year, lets try to get all those rogue items back to their owners by the end of January. Here are a few ways you can get other people’s crap out of your house.
1. Do a Facebook shout out
I’m forever finding books, CDs and DVDs in my house that I’m 100% sure don’t belong to me but I have no clue who they actually belong to. So I’ll take a photo of the item, post it to Facebook and tag anyone who might be a likely owner of the item. If no one claims it and I can’t find the owner, I donate it to charity. No biggie. Then if someone calls me crying in 5 years time because I never returned their DVD copy of Moulin Rouge, I’ll buy them another one. Hasn’t happened yet though. If someone claims it, I attach a post-it note to the item and put in my Returns Drawer. What’s a Return Drawer you ask? Read on, petal.
2. Create a Returns Drawer
I have a drawer in my house that is full of things to return to different people. Right now there are about 3 jumpers, a couple of Tupperware containers, some books and about half of everything my best mate owns. I used to have a pile of crap sitting next to the door but it made me so angry I had to create the returns drawer so I didn’t have to keep looking at the pile. The beauty about the returns drawer is that it’s usually filled with stuff from people who you see all the time because they’re the ones that are most likely to have left their stuff at your house. If I’m meeting a friend that I see regularly, I check the draw for their stuff and take it with me. Easy peasy. I’ve also been loaned lots of amazing baby stuff for our newborn girl and I have big Ikea bags that I’ve labelled so when I’m done using the thing the person lent me like newborn onesies or a breast pump – I can pop that thing in the bag for the person who lent it to me.
3. Imagine there’s an invisible shit-repeller that is attached to your door
Well-meaning relatives and friends will often clear out their own cupboards and insist that the items they don’t want must immediately find a new forever home at your house. No matter how many times you refuse they will insist that you take the ‘perfectly good punch bowl’ and get some use out of it. My philosophy is that if I’ve refused an item three times and someone gives it to me anyway, I’ve earned the right to donate it on my way home. I have an invisible door shit repeller that doesn’t allow items like this to cross its path. For example 2 years worth of New Idea magazines that my friend’s mum palmed off on me? THOU SHALL NOT PASS! A super ugly, free-with-purchase vase that I tried to refuse as the pushy sales assistant shoved it into my bag? THOU SHALL NOT PASS! Treat items like this as the plague they are and remember the catchphrase… THOU SHALL NOT PASS!
4. Use your words and say no
I live in Fitzroy in Melbourne where space is scarce and the population is transient. I currently have about 6 boxes belonging to various friends in the storage cage of my apartment. This is not a problem at all, because I’m not looking at it. I don’t even know it’s there most of the time. However, I have a friend whose OS boyfriend is storing boxes at his place IN HIS KITCHEN. They are stacked in the corner of the kitchen, driving him mental on a daily basis. Hells no. If you have space and you don’t mind, then fine. If you end up having to make a table out of someone else’s boxes of crap, just so they’ll fit in your house, it’s time to say no my friend. N. O.
5. Be a very vocal minimalist
I get sent lots of products and things to try for the blog – way more than one person can use on their own – so every now and then I put together gift bags for my mates. A few years ago one of my mates politely asked me to stop giving her these packages because she wasn’t using the products and they were just cluttering up her house. How ace is that? I’m so pleased she told me and I took her off the gift bag list immediately and gave the products to someone who would actually use them. Never feel bad about telling people you don’t want them to give you stuff. I’ve been blogging and podcasting for years and I’ve mentioned several times that I don’t really like getting birthday gifts unless they’re useful and/or wine. I’ve pretty much only been given wine for my last 5 birthdays. Mission accomplished.