Cindy has been kind enough to produce another couple of posts to keep things going here at 365less things while I watch my baby sleep. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your good wishes and notes of comfort. Thank you again to Cindy for helping me out at such short notice.
SWAG a guest post by Cindy Bogard
I only recently learned this term – swag. According to the Urban Dictionary it stands for Stuff We All Get, aka everything from the trinkets you get at trade shows to the really fancy gift bags that celebrities get when they attend swanky events. However you cut it, it’s goodie bags for adults.
My husband recently returned from a conference that is famous (at least in our household) for its swag. Some of it is really good (i.e. welcome) stuff, and none of it is cheap. My husband is on board with decluttering, yet he could not resist all this temptation when it was dangled (free!) in front of him. He came home with a really nice cowboy hat (we do live in Texas) and small boxes of three different gourmet foods. These I welcomed, and as far as I’m concerned, this is where the good stuff ended and the cluttering began.
There was also a realistically sized plastic dill pickle that yodels (what in the world??), a very handsome box embossed with the name of the conference and filled with poker chips, dice, and cards (useful, but not to us), a handsome gold-tone pin engraved with his name that commemorates the 15th anniversary of this conference (useless), a belt buckle commemorating this conference from a previous year (useless again, and why did he take it?), a t-shirt commemorating the conference (he has eight of these now but does wear them to work) and a t-shirt with electronics built into it in that can be played like a decent-sounding electronic guitar (truly horrible, but he loves it). In previous years, he’s brought home stuffed animals and sea monkey kits for the girls, a large lap blanket emblazoned with the name of the conference, another cowboy hat, a BBQ tool set, an engraved flask, and more food treats.
When I raised my eyebrows nearly to my hairline and asked what he was going to do with some of this stuff, specifically the yodeling pickle, the pin and the belt buckle, here’s what he said, “The pickle will make a great white elephant gift, but unless I want to make a shrine to commemorate BBQ (the name of the conference), I don’t know what I’ll do with the other stuff.” Hmmm. It’s sitting in a neat pile on his worktable, I see, and I predict it will sit for the remainder of this year, at least.
While I’m being grumpy about my husband bringing home obviously useless things (at least in my eyes), in post 188 Colleen lamented accepting free items that are useful, but that you really don’t need or want. These, too, are abundant in my life. Free reusable tote bags, which Colleen calls enviro bags, are the new rage, as well as t-shirts commemorating practically any event. (My husband owns 50 t-shirts, but that’s a story for another post.) Pens, letter openers, even business cards and literature pressed upon you when you know you don’t want them are all swag, or trash, depending on your point of view.
While I’m feeling very negative about this worthless stuff, I decided to take a 5 minute stroll around my house and see what I could find that was a freebie but is being actively used in our daily life. Surely there would be something. Here’s what I found:
- A chip clip
- A grippy jar opener
- Two mousepads
- Numerous pens and pencils
- A tube of lip balm
- The light on my husband’s key chain
- Address labels and note pads from charities hoping for a donation (although I have so many of these that they’re boarding on being junk)
- A small screwdriver set that’s useful for battery cases and eye glasses
- A coffee mug from my husband’s business (although I’m hoping this will experience “natural decluttering” someday soon)
Although the production of unwanted goods is an environmental concern, in terms of clutter, the problem isn’t businesses offering us this stuff. The problem is that we accept it. My girlfriend DeeDee recently moved to a new neighborhood. She reported, “I declined the Welcome Wagon bag of junk (coupons, brochures, phone book), and they thought that I was so mean!” I reminded her that you’re never mean when you politely decline what you do not want. Heck, it leaves them with more for the next person who might love a sack full of coupons and such.
Next time you’re entering a trade show, going to an open house, or attending a store grand opening, look at what they hand you, and hand it right back if you know it’s not for useful to you.
ITEM 296 OF 365 LESS THINGS
Another useless item that will never be used by me because it can’t even fit a toothbrush in.
5 Things I am grateful for today
- That my house is neat and tidy and I don’t have to worry about it at this trying time.
- Family who surprised us with a visit and helping keep our spirits up.
- The wonderful staff in the ICU look out our my boy
- The nice people we have met who are sadly in a similar situation to ours. It is nice to have someone to talk to who knows what we are going through.
- Any progress our son makes sometime it is one step forward two steps back but he is holding his own while we just keep our fingers crossed.