This is the third in a three-part series of posts debunking the three excuses I hear most frequently from clients for wanting to keep items they no longer use or love. Click here to see the other articles in the series.
The third common excuse I hear for keeping an unloved or unused item is that it was a gift. This is a tough one. People tend to have a difficult time parting with items that were given to them. (As an aside, this has completely changed how I give gifts, knowing that my gift may some day become clutter for the recipient.)
What do I say to clients who tell me they can’t let go of something because it was a gift? The first question I ask is:
Usually that’s enough to help the client release it. If that doesn’t do the trick, I might ask:
That can be very helpful, especially when the gift giver has passed away. (I’m the thrilled recipient of some paintings that my grandmother created, given to me by her nieces when they were decluttering.)
Really, what I find is that the client just needs permission to let gifts go. So let me do that for you right now: You are not obligated to keep an item you don’t use or love just because it was a gift. I give you permission to re-gift it or donate it. Don’t stash it in a closet. And try not to worry that the giver will ever ask about it. Chances are they won’t.