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Criteria for tossing items when decluttering

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When you are in decluttering mode, how do you decide what to keep and what to toss? Some things are easy (like the Children's Motrin in my cupboard that expired in 2008 :tongue_smilie:). I am struggling most with dishes, platters, serving-type items, etc. How often do they have to be used in order to justify keeping them? It's been several years since I used my punch bowl and cups, but what if I need it? AND, throw in the fact that it, and other items, belonged to my mother, and I get even more confused. :confused:


What are your decluttering criteria?

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I ask myself a few questions....


How does it make me feel when I see it?


Does it have more value as an heirloom, or as cash?


When did I last use it?


If I am saving it for future use, how long will it be before it is actually put back in use?


How easy would it be to borrow this type of item from someone if I do need such a thing in the future?


What kind of freedom will I gain by giving this up?


Is there anyone I know who would value it more than I do? Could I give it to them?

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I make an interim area. That's where I store things that haven't been used, but I still like/want. I challenge myself to use each item 1x within the next 12 months. If it is used, it isn't stored back in the interim holding area. At the end of 12 months, I go without mercy and remove all the interim items and list on freecycle or simply chuck them out.


My kids, they love when I make punch, and we use the punchbowl btw. It's our version of "tea." Normal, afternoon tea. :D

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Another thing I consider is how much space the items take. I'd be a lot more likely to keep a few platters than a punch bowl for the reason, unless I used the bowl more often.


Yes, how much space does it take up is another great question. I'll add one more:


Can I multitask with this item?


I decided to keep my punch bowl and start using it as a salad bowl when I take things to potluck type gatherings. So while I would not use it as a punch bowl all that often, I use it many times a year for salads/side dishes. Keeping the cups and ladle are then easier to reconcile.

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My mom died two years ago and I have the items that were in her curio cabinet. They are not really my taste and I would never want to display the whole lot at one time. I have them in a box and take out a different one each month to put on the mantel.


As far as decluttering in general if I don't like/use/need it I get rid of it. Somethings I struggle with and if they don't go in the current purge, they go in one of the next ones. I try to go through stuff on a continous basis so it doesn't pile up on me.



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I had several sentimental items stored in my dining room hutch. I couldn't bear to part with some of them, so I repurposed them.


Silver Pitcher (wedding present from a beloved aunt who is now gone) - now sits on a shelf in my bedroom with silk flowers.


Punch bowl - like mentioned above, is often used for salads. I got rid of the cups b/c there were only 8. If I ever serve punch I have way more than 8 guests and buy disposable cups.


Great- grandmother's iron skillet and iron corn muffin pan - now on my kitchen wall as decor. I use the skillet once in a blue moon.



FWIW - I think we go through phases of entertaining. In my early marriage I entertained a lot and used my nice serving items frequently. They weren't used for about 10 years, but now that life is more calm, I'm glad I didn't throw everything away.

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Is there someone else who would love it more than I do? (Esp. true for collectables.) It doesn't have to be someone I know - eBay is great for finding that someone!


If I didn't have it, could I improvise?


Realistically, will I use it in a year?


What is the replacement cost - if I do need it later, how much will it cost in time and/or money to get another?


Books - will I *really* read it again? If it was a library book, would it pain me to return it so much that I'd buy a copy?


Does it make me happy to use it?


How much is it costing me in space/time/dust to keep it?


I would personally nix the punch bowl, as I prefer to serve plain juice and/or other options at parties. I really dislike punch; it tends to be full of artificial sweeteners or added sugar or food coloring, which most of my friends are trying to avoid nowadays.

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Something I really had to come to grips with during the year or 2 after my grandmother passed away is that things are just things. We were in the process of moving into a new house and were within a week or 2 of closing when she passed. My dad had passed away a few years before and my parents were divorced. My grandmother had just tons of stuff (i.e. knick knacks, dishes, and lots of stuff like that.) I had a ton of her stuff sitting in the sunroom of my new house for almost a year. I finally was able to get rid of a lot it. There were things that I kept because they had sentimental value to me and there were things that I kept b/c I figured they were worth something (think glass mushrooms, probably close to 100 of them.) I lived with this stuff in boxes for a long time. The last time we moved I finally decided there is no way I am going to take the time to put this stuff on ebay, so I finally just donated it.


I still have some things that were my grandmothers, stuff I really like and really use. I also still have the memories. It is hard to get rid of "stuff" that belongs to those who have passed, but it does make life better.


I hope that helps some. I do have a bunch of jewelry that she had and can use some of it and will pass some of it to my dd.

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I think that it is just fine to keep things that make you feel good.

If you remember a loved relative serving punch, and every time you see that punch bowl, it makes you smile, by all means keep it. But USE IT. Too often we put that kind of thing away for the 'right occasion' and end up never using it. Remember, it's the use of it that you remember. If your children don't see you use it, it won't have any sentimental value for them.


My DH and I have beautiful wedding gift china that we hardly ever use but that I love. About 5 years ago I got out 4 of the dinner plates and we started using them a lot for everyday meals. Not a time goes by that I don't get a lift when I use one of these. Yes, I do put them in the dishwasher. Yes, the trim is getting a bit faded by that. But it's a lot better than never using them at all, which is what would have happened if I only used them when we felt like handwashing them, or if I only pulled them out for a formal company meal.

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