In a moment of temporary insanity in 2017, I purchased a stack of wooden crates filled with vintage 1986 Tennessee Homecoming Centennial Coke bottles. I blame Pinterest and unrealistic optimism about my free time. A family friend and I started planning a seasonal craft project that would make most rational people quickly discount the idea and run. We stormed full speed ahead. Oh, and here are two fun details – the bottles were full of 1986 Coke, and I was recovering from knee surgery. A bad idea? Probably.
Fast forward to 2021. While helping a family member retrieve an item from her attic, I saw the crate with the decorative bottles I had given her. They were in the back, hiding behind more prized possessions. Thinking back, I realized I hadn’t seen them displayed in her home in years. While she may have enjoyed them initially, now they were clutter. Yes, Angie Hyche, relentless declutterer and proponent of simplicity, had unintentionally created clutter in someone’s attic.
The biggest mistake in the Coke Bottle Debacle of 2017 was gifting the bottles to family members, assuming they would find this seasonal decor set attractive and practical without asking. I probably owe them apologies. In retrospect, if I had asked, it might have been difficult for them to be honest for fear of hurting my feelings.
In my defense, I kept a set myself because I enjoy and still use them. You can judge the quality for yourself by the picture, which is a subset of the collection. The point remains that it would have been more thoughtful and logical to make sure recipients had a need, desire and room for them before I lovingly gifted them.
In my experience with clients, handmade crafts and the supplies to make them constitutes a large category of clutter. Read on for four tips on how to keep crafts from becoming clutter in your own home or that of others.
Pause before you purchase
Organizers sometimes call this aspirational clutter. It’s similar to buying weightlifting equipment and never actually lifting a barbell. Resist the urge to buy the supplies until you’re ready to make the craft. I suggest waiting until the very day you’re going to craft. Yes, it’s so easy and time efficient to fill your cart with those supplies while you’re already shopping to avoid an extra trip in the future. And yes, I know there are sales that will save you lots of money if you go ahead and buy the supplies. And these exact supplies may not be available on the day you’re ready to craft.
But here’s the thing – you may not actually complete that craft soon. Or ever. I’ve been there and done that many times myself. And I’ve certainly seen that with clients. Whole closets (or rooms or multiple rooms) filled with supplies for a craft that was never (or rarely) done. Often these are accompanied by a collection of half-finished projects (like the cross-stitch design for a newborn that still awaits completion when the child enters middle school). In the long run, you’ll be much better off if you pause for a moment.
Here’s another excellent strategy to justify waiting. What if you considered letting the big box store or craft store be your storage place? Those necessities will be there waiting when you’re ready. Until then, they’re not piled in a heap in your guest bedroom that has to be moved when your cousin visits.
It’s okay to own a few craft supplies. If you have plenty of room to store them and they’re not cluttering up a space that could be better used, by all means, keep a few. But I recommend limiting the amount to only what can reasonably be stored in a specified area. Keep the supplies organized so you can find what you need when you’re ready.
Designate the recipient
If you’re making this craft to keep, where is it going to go? If you don’t need and won’t use that creation, it will immediately become clutter.
If it’s decor, where will it be hung or placed? Will something else need to be removed or swapped out to make room? If so, where will that item go?
If you’re making it for someone else, be smart. It’s not likely you know someone well enough to say, “If I made this for you, would you like it?” Especially in the South, we hate the thought of hurting someone’s feelings. Plus, you may want to give this handmade item as a surprise. How can you predict success?
It’s time to play detective. Depending on the craft, look at their wardrobe or around their house to determine their style. Do you see similar objects? Do they appear to enjoy hand-crafted things? Is there space for it? If necessary and if it’s appropriate, ask a close friend or family member of the recipient’s opinion.
You might want to consider giving the craft to a nonprofit. Consider the following examples: pet toys for animal shelters, paracord woven wristbands for the military, no-sew blankets for the homeless or nursing homes. The result is awesome – crafters get to satisfy their need to create, and nonprofits get what they need.
It’s a win-win situation!
Plan the funeral before the birth
This sounds a little morbid, but here’s what I mean. Regardless of the destination, except for rare situations when a keepsake is treasured forever, eventually the item you create will no longer be needed.
Whether it’s used for a couple of weeks or several years, there will be a point at which it’s time for that item to find another home. How easy will it be to get rid of that craft? Can it easily be repurposed? What about recycling or donating? Or will it inevitably take up space in a dumpster or landfill? Adopt the strategy of an eco-friendly futurist from the onset.
Call in the troops if needed
What if you already have more supplies than could ever be assembled by a league of crafters? It’s probably time to get some help. Laurie and I would love to help you find good homes for your unused craft supplies and creations and to restore order for what you keep. You can view before and after photos of craft rooms we have organized at this link: https://bit.ly/3zqTCYP.
If your budget is tight, we can give you a step-by-step plan to complete the work yourself. An email (angie @ shipshape. Solutions) or call to Shipshape Solutions (423-567-4273) may be your best decision in awhile!