A thought about gifts

Recall for a moment an event where you received a gift that you really wanted. The perfect give that you used and enjoyed for some time. Remember the delight at the sight of such a gift when you opened the wrapping. Can you recall how wonderful you felt in that moment? Can you also recall the gratitude you felt for the giver? That positive energy returned each time you used and enjoyed this gift, right?

Now remember receiving a gift you didn’t particularly want. Not necessarily something you hated, just something you didn’t care about or have a use for. You were thankful that someone cared enough to give you the gift but didn’t really want to keep it. Do you still have that gift simply because you feel you can’t get rid of it for fear of offending that person? Now consider the negative energy that holding on to this item causes you.

Which of these two energies do you really want to surround yourself with. Be grateful for what you receive but let go of items in your home that do not exude positive energy for you.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter electric cleaning tools that haven’t proved all that effective, are an indulgence or are simply unnecessary. Suggestions ~ Steam mop, jewellery cleaner, home scrubbing tool, steam cleaner, floor buffer, leaf blower, high pressure water cleaner, dust buster, robot vacuum cleaneretc. . I currently own only the usual items, a washing machine, one vacuum cleaner, a dryer and a dishwasher. Aside from the robot vacuum cleaner that I did love and the dustbuster, both of which I now happily manage without, I did not find any of the other gadgets highlighted all that useful and some not effective at all. I did try a steam cleaner to determine how effective it was but found it wanting.

Eco Tip for the Day

If you are one for ironing just about anything ~ sheets, underwear, pyjamas, tea towels etc ~ do yourself a favour and give it up for the sake of the environment. Electrical energy won’t be the only energy you will be saving.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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  • Declutter your mind to declutter you home The hardest part of decluttering happen in you mind. The clutter itself isn't really the problem it is the preconceived ideas we have about what we should, could and must keep and what we […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Colleen! Very few items in our home exude positive energy for me. Some we may need like lights and a few chairs, but the ones that really matter are perhaps a guitar, laptop, a few books, and then I begin to struggle a bit to find more. I suppose this means we still have some items to get rid of;)

    • Hi CJ, that is a shame. Perhaps I got a little overzealous on the positive energy side of that example. I find that anything I love the visual of or items I get lots of use out of to exude positive energy. For example, I get pleasure from my Microplane graters because the work so well and get used often. I appreciate the great design of our seven drawer chest and its four drawer topper because there is a drawer for everything and it make organising in our bedroom so easy. That gives me positive energy. I love the simplicity and style of our glass dining table and its comfy modern chairs because they are just so unimposing in the room. I love my roomy sofa because I can easily curl up in it on the cold days. I love the versatility of my square cast iron skillet that I’ve owned for twenty years and was secondhand when I received it. I enjoy the simplicity of my ordinary white crockery.
      I guess you see what I mean now. However just making that list has got me thinking more about what might be still lurking in my home that I don’t enjoy or appreciate. I’ll keep that in mind while I go over it all with a fine tooth comb in the next few weeks.

      • Colleen – its items that everytime you use you find yourself saying (in your head) ‘I still totally think this works!” or “I can’t believe I still like seeing this every day” or “Best idea ever for (insert title or name) I will do the same again if I have to replace it”.
        Its a happy feeling or a contented feeling that it works well.

      • Colleen! Thanks so much for your kind reply! I totally get it. We are very happy in our home and I do appreciate many of our belongings. I suppose that on a day to day basis, I do not pay them much attention though, so busy am I with the guitar, blogging and enjoying conversation with my lovely wife;)

        • CJ – if you don’t mind me asking you a guitar question………….my hubby has a guitar that we keep in the lounge, if my younger daughter feels like playing, she picks that up as it has a nice tone. Up in our ceiling storage is a full size guitar that we bought for our son some years ago that he mucked around on and eventually lost interest in. Its currently zipped up in a travel bag. My daughter has called ‘dibs’ on it for when she leaves home (she’s currently 15). More than likely it was an entry level guitar. (Courtney’s preferred instrument is the digital piano we bought off Trademe last year to replace the electric keyboard.) Would you leave it in storage for another 3-5 years? Or sell it and get another one down the track? Or set it up next to the piano? Do guitars perish with age? We have a stand too, just a basic one. The digital piano is set up in the garage which isn’t the warmest of locations at the moment. I’ve offered her space elsewhere in the house but I think she likes to be away from everyone when she’s ‘working’.

          • Marvy questions, Moni, and I am happy to offer my thoughts! Guitar strings perish with age, but not the guitar. The exception being extreme heat and cold. So if the storage space is not climate controlled, the neck of the guitar could bow. That is bad to say the least.

            I would take the guitars to someone who knows guitars and have new strings put on if the instruments are in good enough condition. It only costs $20-25 with the strings included (all 6 strings). Then have them tune the guitar and play it so that it can be determined whether it sounds good. Usually that is all that needs to be done is the restringing.

            Now, as a guitar instructor, the best one can do after that is purchase a guitar stand (about $10, but seems you may already have one) and set it up next to the piano. Otherwise it will probably never be touched. My students that have their guitars out and ready to go and tuned are the ones that can actually play songs and have fun with the guitar. The other parents are kinda wasting their money.

            Hope this helps and please lemme know if I can help further. I love talking about this stuff;) May you and your children enjoy the guitar(s) for the remainder of your days or – at least sell them and go out for lunch.

        • CJ – thank you for the guitar advice. I will get it down and check it out.

  2. Oh, Colleen. I do have those things are are less than positive for me for one reason or another. They are in the closet! 😉

    I’m working to get rid of things, so I can have those few beautiful “things” that help me feel peace. Nothing really makes me feel peace more than fewer “things” though! I could live in a bare house and be happy!

    • Good for you Tammy. I have a few less appreciated items in my closet too. Things I do use but either aren’t so comfortable in, don’t fit well or I just don’t feel good in. I have slowly been swapping them out for items I find at the thrift shop when I do my shift on Wednesdays.

  3. I love my robot vacuum cleaner. It means under the bed gets cleaned (I don’t fit and I’ve manged to not store anything there) and it forces me to keep the floors decluttered. When I’m vacuuming I can just go around the pile of clothes, but it gets stuck! There is a definite difference between the rooms I clean and the rooms it cleans.

    • Hi Kayote, I have to admit, and I have done so here at 365 before, that I also loved my robot vacuum cleaner. I would still be using it only converting it to 240v and buying a new battery wasn’t really financially viable so I sold it for parts. I wouldn’t buy another one because they are so expensive here in Australia but I did love mine while I had it. Like you having it clean under the bed was one of the things I really loved about it.

  4. My favorite gifts are usually consumable ones…coffee, chocolates, wine, a trip to a restaurant, etc. I don’t really need anything that is more permanent and if I do I go out and get it for myself because then I can pick out exactly what I want.

  5. I don’t receive gifts most of the time but if I realize that I will be getting on I try to get the point across that I want Amazon or Wal-Mart gift cards. I get books from Amazon (free ones unless I have a gift card) and we get the major portion of anything else at Wal-Mart. I try to use your idea for people I buy for which is mostly wedding and baby gifts. I try to get something on their gift registry that I know they really want.

    • Hi Deb, I like giving/receiving gift cards too. It’s nice to be able to use them for a guilt free splurge. For our anniversary my husband and I will be going to Olive Garden with a gift card we got for our birthdays.

      • Melissa, you are like us. We almost never go out to eat because it not only costs too much but also because of my eating restrictions. But a gift card to a restaurant once in a while is nice. I think gift cards are WONDERFUL.

        • Hi Deb, Actually we LOVE to go to restaurants, but we are pretty intentional about how we use our money and right now our larger goal is buying and moving into a house in a location much closer to where we work and like to hang out. So, restaurant trips have been reduced dramatically, which makes those restaurant gift cards even more wonderful! Thank goodness we have a library near by because that is how I get my book fix. Not only does it save money, but then there’s no clutter! The books and dvds and audio books all get returned and do not need to take up residence in my home. I LOVE THAT! 🙂

          • Libraries are great. What I like about ours is that we can download digital files to the computer and don’t even have to go out of the house.

    • That’t the way to go Deb J. Most of the people I love know I don’t wish to receive gifts so I don’t have much of an issue with this. However the odd one does sneak through.

  6. I have a few things still that I have received that I really didn’t need or particularly want. I am slowly weeding those things out. Come to think of it, I can’t think of much I have received that has really knocked my socks off. Gift cards are the way to go, no matter if I am giving or receiving them. I love to give restaurant gift cards if I know a person’s favorite place. The only other thing I give anymore are consumables.

    • A group of friends once gave my husband and I a gift certificate to a great restaurant. It was very much appreciated. When a whole group of people do this a fabulous meal can be had.

  7. We’ve just returned from a long trip, birdwatching and kayaking. At our first stop, the friend we were visiting gave me a small illustrated birding journal. It was pretty and I am, of course, mad about birds but I’m not a journaler. At our last stop, I swapped kayaks and paddles with the friend we were visiting and immediately fell in love with the foam grips on her paddle. Sooooo comfortable. The next day was my birthday and she was pleased to give me a spare set of paddle grips which I will enjoy immensely every time I paddle. And I hope she gets the same amount of enjoyment out of a certain small illustrated birding journal…..

  8. Wow, this is quite thought provoking Colleen! I can relate this to so many things in life, especially people! How often do we look forward to meeting up with someone you know and think of the fun you will have, whilst dreading any contact with another person?
    There is a possibility that I will be going to Germany next month, and my eldest son told me not to purchase him any gifts. I realize he does not want to feel obligated to like what I would give him and would rather have assistance(money) than items. Yet my daughter will expect me to purchase a snow globe from every place I go!
    Sounds like I will have to get this book by Karen Kingston 🙂

    • Wendy F – how cool a trip to Germany.
      The thing I enjoyed about Karen’s book is that I didn’t have to buy into the religious aspects of Feng Shui or the ornamental side but it brought to my attention principles which could adapt nicely into a Western lifestyle, like have nothing under the bed. Feng Shui has its reasons but at that stage it hadn’t occured to me to even look at what was being stored under the bed as it had always been an acceptable place of storage my entire life and from what I can gather in many Western households.
      I think that’s why I enjoyed the book, it gave me some fresh perspectives on how and why and where we keep things in our homes. Didn’t agree with everything but it certainly gave me some things to think about.

      • I love Karen Kingston’s straight forward no nonsense approach. She says exactly what she things without wasting words. That style suits my reading style.

    • Wendy F, drop me a line if you need some guide or travel tips or possibly even a coffee if you happen to be somewhere near me! 😉

    • Hi Wendy, snow globes are fragile and heavy. Perhaps you should put your travelling comfort first in this case and drawer a line when it comes to buying souvenirs. Trust me travelling light is the only way to go.

      • Yes please Sanna! We will be in Krefeld and hope to travel all around by train. So after buying some Neckermann sandals I would love to meet you for coffee!

        • Maybe Colleen can give you my email adress, if you’re interested. Usually I’m not really in that area, but in August I’m in Münster for three weeks, which is not far from Krefeld. It would definitely be fun to meet you!

  9. “If you are one for ironing just about anything ~ sheets, underwear, pyjamas, tea towels etc ~ do yourself a favour and give it up for the sake of the environment. Electrical energy won’t be the only energy you will be saving.”

    Guilty as charged in the sheets, pj’s and tea towel category. I just love the way everything looks and feels when it is ironed/pressed. I think my ‘ohana (family) will bury me with my Rowenta iron, haha!

  10. Short, sweet and to the point. I like it.

    Sadly, I haven’t had too many of those great gifts, except for when I tell them what I want. I figure if I have to tell them, then what is the point? I do have a couple of great memories in that regard though, so thanks for reminding me about how grateful I am for those moments.

    Luckily, I have not had too many issues getting rid of gifts people gave me. Jess struggles occasionally with the obligations, but is working through it and getting better as we reduce.

  11. By the way, I found a new category of gifts: repairs/make-overs. I myself received some complicated alterations of dresses as gifts from my granny – she’d then wrap up the finished altered dress and give it to me for christmas. This year I gave my friend a “balcony make-over” for her birthday, meaning I (and another friend) gave her outdoor chairs a fresh coat of paint and made two new cases for sad looking cushions (I used fabric from my stash for that). She dreads stuff like that and I had fun, though it was work, because I don’t have any garden or balcony and was able to work outside and in good company. 🙂

  12. This is something that I am experiencing at the moment. We are clearing out everything that we don’t love or need. It is shocking how much we had that fell into neither category. Seriously shocking, the first round of declutter lead to a roomful of things and the guilt we felt when we were faced with it all was quite overwhelming. We have a long way to go but our mindsets have moved by miles.

  13. It’s that all important energy buzz, different for each one of us that is really good to tune into isn’t it: it provides so many answers.
    I confess I get a positive energy buzz out of using my steam mop: I love it’s slim line ergonomic design and delicious turquoise colour and uses no chemicals, just water.And it makes light of a chore I used to dread and frequently avoid for months.
    Where as we gave away our dishwasher (which we had got free) as a waste of time and inefficient and we missed the companionship of the two of us washing up. We also preferred to have only 2 plates and bowls and 2 mugs each as that doesn’t work with a dishwasher.

  14. How did you know?
    My well meaning mom just brought over a coffee maker. It was nice of her, and it’s a pretty cool looking thing BUT: I am a french press user. I love the superior flavor, the freedom to use whatever coffee I want, the environmental benefits of no filters nor “pods”, the carefree cleaning, the compact size (it doesn’t have to live on the counter or be plugged in) and the overall simplicity of it.
    She was so proud of it when she brought it, I can tell she thought hard about it. I have used it a few times and unfortunately I do miss using the press!
    I think I may have to hide it away, and just bring it out when she is over… then when she has forgotten about it, I may be able to remove it…. oh the things we do for loved ones…