Too Big To Keep

Storing Large Stuff. Sometimes, an object is just too big to keep.
photo credit: Elephants via photopin (license)

Sometimes, an object is just too big to keep. This happened to me recently. My husband and I were celebrating a milestone anniversary, and he very kindly sent me a large floral arrangement. He sent the flowers in a vase, which is always my preference, since arranging flowers  isn’t my long suit! They were beautiful and I greatly enjoyed them. Here is a photo:

Too Big

Eventually, the flowers perished, and it was time to wash and put away the vase. When I went to the  sink, I realized that it was actually quite enormous. I had trouble washing it because it was so tall, and I started to think, “Where in the world am I going to store this thing?”

The item was a challenge to store because…

  1. It was too tall for any of my cabinets
  2. It was heavy, so it needed to be on a sturdy shelf
  3. It was fragile, so I didn’t want to stick it where it could easily get bumped

As I pondered this challenge, I also acknowledged that since flower arranging isn’t my favorite hobby, the odds of my creating a floral display in this container were slim. I wouldn’t even know where to begin! Yes, I keep a few vases around for when I receive a bouquet, host a party, or cut flowers from the yard, but I wasn’t likely to assemble a display of this magnitude.

This is where the emotion kicked in…

“But, my husband got this beautiful vase for me…

and he paid good money for it…

and he might feel badly if I don’t keep it…”

Do these rationalizations sound familiar?

At this point, I had to take some of my own organizing medicine, and remind myself of a few realities:

First, the money had already been spent. Keeping this huge vase wasn’t going to bring it back.

Second, I had enjoyed the flowers, so the purpose of the gift had been fulfilled. Keeping the vase wasn’t going to make me like the gift more. In fact, struggling to store, clean, and protect the vase might become a burden, creating a negative association with the gift.

All right, I was ready to let it go. Now I had to consider my options:

  • I could try and sell the vase, but it wasn’t of incredible value, and I certainly wasn’t going to pay to ship it anywhere.
  • I could give the vase to a friend or relative, but to be honest, none of them probably had space for storing it either.
  • I could recycle it, but it was in perfect condition… this was a good option, but maybe I could do better.

So are you wondering what I did with my giant vase? Drumroll please….

I ended up taking it back to the florist. Yep, I put the clean vase in my car and drove it back. I thought I might look a little strange walking in with a huge empty vase, but I did it anyway. To my surprise, the clerk was delighted to get the vase back. I started to tell her how I had cleaned it (in case I had missed some protocol…), and she said, “No worries, we will take care of it. Thanks for bringing it back – we will use it!”

I felt great! Not only did I solve my storage problem, but this vase was now going to bring a smile to someone else’s face, and probably save the florist some money in the process.

I tell this story for one purpose: to remind you that you don’t need to keep everything, especially large or bulky items that you won’t use. Large pieces of furniture you were “handed down”, sporting equipment you rarely use, artwork you don’t love, yard tools you never touch, giant stuffed animals you won at a carnival… many items fit this category. Instead of automatically keeping every item that enters your space, give yourself permission to take it back, pass it on, or let it go.

I’d love to hear you have ever gotten rid of something large. How did you do it?

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26 thoughts on “Too Big To Keep”

  1. Recently, we actually got rid of this huge oversized Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal that my husband first got for our first even before she was born. We went back and forth as it did hold sentimental value, but in the end logic won out as she no longer plays with it and it was just too big to hold onto, as well.

    1. Giant stuffed animals definitely fit this category. We had a big hippo growing up, and I totally understand the reluctance to part with it as we had sentimental attachment as well, but they are HUGE and take up so much space. We took a photo and let it go:)

  2. Great post Seana. I usually find when people are moving into a smaller home the large items are the easy ones to let go of because they will not fit, but the everyday bulky things we have are a lot harder to decide on. Thank you for sharing, I know it will be useful to a lot of people.
    Jill Robson recently posted…Did you unplug on Canada Day?My Profile

    1. Good point, Jill. Sometimes the big ones eliminate themselves! Bulky items are difficult for so many people… items like bulk supplies that are big one week and then dwindle over time.

  3. Wow, that’s an incredible idea!! Talk about good “recycling” – I wonder if other people ever think of that.
    And the money had really been more on the flowers and your enjoyment than the vase, and you got a photo of it too.
    Tamara recently posted…You Say Stop, I Say Go, Go, Go.My Profile

    1. That’s what I say… success! I hadn’t ever taken a vase back before, but the clerk acted as if this happened all the time, so I guess others have had the same brilliant idea:)

  4. Seana taking it back to the florist was what I was thinking as you were contemplating what to do.

    That’s what made the most sense. Didn’t toss it …. then you would have felt like you wasted money. Didn’t give it to someone (you knew couldn’t say no) … then you would have burdened them with your burden. Best idea … give it back.

    1. Great minds think alike, right Regina? It really made sense… but I wanted people to see that even professionals go through the same stages of contemplation and consideration when shedding items:)

  5. “Take it back, pass it on, or let it go” is going to be my new motto for now! Great post Seana! I have so many things I have asked this question about and I usually end up cramming it somewhere only to never use it again. Well no more! lol Thanks for the idea of taking it back!

    1. Love your new motto… I find it freeing to think about getting objects to a new place where they can benefit someone else. As I always say, “Ownership is overrated.” Enjoy it, and then let it go when you are finished with it:)

    1. Ah, kitchen gadgets — major culprit! Especially the large ones that are only good for a single function… like a ‘hot dog cooker’ 🙂

  6. Wowza! What a great blog post that explores so many levels of what our clients face in making decisions. It’s not only about the stuff, it’s also about the emotions that stuff brings up. Your sharing these emotions and solutions makes me think about how you truly understand your clients.

    1. Thanks so much, Ellen. I’ve definitely had my struggles, just like everyone else. I do believe that the process of letting go gets easier as you “practice”… do you find this with your clients too?

    1. I love your idea for getting rid of the vases. There are a couple of common culprits that people tend to acquire over time… vases, mugs, stuffed animals, coats. It’s great to cull through them periodically, and moving is the perfect time!

  7. Where I live, on the north shore of Boston, it is common warm-weather practice for people in all types of neighborhoods to leave unwanted items by the curb with a sign reading “Free Stuff!” It seemed strange to me at first, but is apparently successful. A bit like a mini yard sale without the price tags! Great post, Seana.

    1. Whether it is a “free stuff” tradition, or a “take it or leave it” location in town, this can be a very effective way to get needed items into the hands of those who want them. We used to have a town pick-up of large items at the same time each year, and treasure hunters would troll around picking up items they wanted ahead of the curbside pick-up day. Now we have a location at the town recycling center called the Swap Shop for thee items. It is very handy. Thanks for the comment, Dallas!

  8. This is a great post! I echo Ellen’s remarks.. so many of our clients struggle with the emotional aspect of letting something go even though they recognize the fact it will be a stretch to keep it. Thanks very much for sharing this.

    1. I think we all struggle with emotional attachment, and then the guilt that maybe we “shouldn’t” get rid of it. At the end of the day, we should never let our stuff have power over us.

  9. Love this post! I have seen many homeowners that want to get rid of large heavy items but just don’t because they don’t know what to do with them. That is where a Professional Organizer comes in, we are here to find creative ways to get rid of large heavy items. =) Thanks for sharing your process and conclusion. Always a pleasure to read and share.
    Sabrina Q. recently posted…Best Times To Clear ClutterMy Profile

    1. Yes, I think many people need help shedding larger items. A colleague of mine and I always say, “If someone will come and haul away your heavy item at no charge, thank them!”

  10. I’m glad you found the perfect solution!

    When we were moving from a house to an apartment, we sold, donated, and gave away a lot of items that were too large to take with us, and we put the rest out for bulk garbage pickup. There was a limit to the number of large items you could put out, but so many people came by and took stuff that we were able to keep adding others to the mix, so by the time the truck came, we were down to the required number!
    Janet Barclay recently posted…What does “vacation” mean to YOU?My Profile

    1. That’s a great story, Janet. Sometimes those “curbside” pick-ups can be really efficient. Always good to check with your town to make sure this is allowed, but it seems like lots of people are taking advantage of this idea!

    1. What was surprising to me was how pleased the florist was to receive it back! I so agree… if I didn’t talk myself out of keeping things, stuff would be piled to the roof:)

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