Day 86I wanted to share two comments from yesterday because they are both good examples of rationalising ones belongings. So here they are along with my own thoughts on the subject.

From Claire

I have been working on Monday’s Mission, glass, for a few weeks now! We moved across country about a year ago and even though I had given away probably half of what we owned we still moved way too much stuff – we had over 80 boxes for 2 people, yikes! I found that kitchen items were at least 1/3 of those boxes. And also that everything glass took up twice the space in boxes because it had to be wrapped and padded. We are in an apartment that we will probably move from in a year, so I want to get our belongings down before we move again. I just added 8 Christmas glasses to the give away. They are wine glasses, we don’t drink, and they have Christmas flowers all over them. Only good once a year. I also added 8 soup bowls/crocks. They are really nice for soup but nothing else. I haven’t made soup in over a year now and don’t have plans to. If I did, I can just use regular bowls. I got rid of about 10 decorative dishes that don’t suit us anymore. They were made to hang on the wall but have been in a cupboard for years. I have 4 glass pitchers, rarely used, so I am parting with one. I still have way too many breakables/glass items for two people! I’m going to keep working on it for sure.

Claire’s rationalising is a good example of realising that items designed for a single use are often just clutter and we don’t really need them. This is especially so when we have more versatile substitutes already on hand. There is also no need to stock your home with items that you don’t use on a regular basis, such as wine glasses when you don’t drink wine. Sure someone may visit with a bottle one day but they can easily drink the wine from an ordinary drinking glass. Feeling that we need to cater to the enth degree to the occasional guest is a recipe for a cluttered home. This includes food items. I recently visited my in-laws in another state. My mother-in-law uses margarine, whereas I use butter (I don’t like margarine) and I love mint sauce with my lamb roast but she doesn’t stock it in her pantry. My toast was was quite edible with the margarine and my lamb roast was still delicious without the mint sauce. Had she bought these items they would have languished in her fridge and pantry for months.

From Vicki K

Ooooh – I am ready for Tuesday. I’ve been making my way through your archives, Colleen, and found a post about gift wrap. Really, I enjoy wrapping gifts but there are some wraps that I’ve had forever because I don’t like them well enough to use! While I was at it, I cleared out all the mashed bows, unusable tissue paper, tags, ribbons, one-purpose dispensers and left only the items I know I will use. Now it is all contained in one small bin – but I will use ALL of it.

And I am going to be disciplined about using up what I have before acquiring more. This part is key in a lot of areas!

Vicki’s example of rationalising is about downsizing a collection of items without compromising on enjoying it. As she says, she “..really enjoy’s wrapping gifts…” but doesn’t need to keep the materials she doesn’t like so much. She also realises that she can still enjoy it with less variety on hand.

I also found this to be the case with my craft supplies. I am enjoying my craft as much as ever these days with a whole lot less stuff on hand. I have a limited amount of space to store it and intend for the collection to remain within those confines. I did the same with my kitchen items, my Christmas decorations, my linen, my clothes and many other groups of things in my home. In fact their are a few areas of my new home that I think could still do with a little rationalising on now that we live in a smaller space.

Is there in area in your home that you need to rationalise in order to reach your declutter goal.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter some paper items ~ Paper is one of the materials that can be really difficult for many people to deal with. Items made from this are either usually loved or hated. Books, magazines, letters and photos can be numerous and cherished, while paperwork is a pain to sort through and deal with. You only need to spend 10 minutes on this so make the most of it.

Eco Tip for the Day

Use only the amount of product required. This could be, hair products, cleaners, paper towel, toilet paper, deodorant and other toiletries etc etc. Using too much doesn’t do a better job it just causes waste.

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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  • Clutter, why? Clutter isn't about what we have, it is about why we have it.  We acquire stuff for many reasons, aesthetics, functionality, sentimental, recreation and entertainment and even […]
  • Ringing Out the Old and Welcoming the New ~ By Deb J How many of you come to the end of the year with a bundle of paper you need to keep to prepare your taxes or because you have to be reimbursed for medical expenses or for who knows what […]
About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. My husband and I have been hard at work decluttering our home. And having great success! Boy, we sure have accumulated a lot of junk. Today, with it being GLASS day – I opened up our cabinet where I keep our glasses. Managed to pull out quite a bit, although I thought I had done a good job last month decluttering there already. I dug deeper back and found my Chilly Willy glass. For those of you unfamiliar with Chilly Willy glasses, well, let me explain. About 37 years ago, when my husband and I got married, we went down to Hardees for lunch one day and they had some “collectible” glasses for sale (ha ha). I saw these cute penguin glasses – Chilly Willy from the cartoon show. I was in love with Chilly Willy! My husband got me a glass (about $1.50, which was about all we could afford). I treasured that glass. Well, years later, I got sloppy in handwashing the dishes and accidently let the faucet hit it and it broke. Unrepairable. I almost wept, but being an adult, I accepted it. Our daughter saw that I was sad about it, and for a surprise for me, she had gotten on eBay and found one and bought it for me. Surprised me on my next birthday with it. I was JOYOUS! I couldn’t believe I could have another Chilly Willy glass in my life! I was so touched by her thoughtfulness! Tears came to my eyes. Of course, I kept the Chilly Willy glass. And no, it will not be decluttered. I will always keep it. I cannot explain it. I don’t use it everyday, but when I get sick, I want my juice in it, it makes me feel better. I smile when I get my drink in it. It makes me fell better, it makes me feel happy. And that is more than worth the space it takes up in my cabinet. So, that makes it worth it. So I learn everyday what is important. If it really makes you happy, keep it. If you don’t need it – give it away if you think someone else needs it. Use Freecycle if you want (although you do share your private information with other people – your address and such), or give it to the Thrift Shop (but don’t send them things that are just truly junk). Toss the junk. Our home is beginning to feel less like a storage facility for a bunch of junk we bought for some strange reason I don’t really remember,and more like an oasis.

    • Hi Annie, thank you for sharing your story with us. You are so right. Decluttering isn’t about getting rid of the things you love. So keep the Chilly Willy glass and find something else to declutter. I am glad your home is beginning to feel more like the oasis it out to be.

      • Sweet story! Annie, we got rid of most of our plastic cups-even the ones from the hospitals where our children were born, and I thought I’d never part with those, but then we aquired 2 that we are keeping for now (plus a couple our baby drinks from). One was a plastic cup my husband drank from at his grandparents’ home. He used to show it to me often when we visited them. A few years ago, we were visiting, and they gave it to him. That was so special! We don’t know what it’s made from; so we don’t let our children drink from it, and it just sits in the cabinet to make us smile. It is small, maybe we will come up with another use for it, but I’m happy we have it. The other is a big plastic cup we got from a vacation to one of my favorite places. We were so thirsty, and the only drinks were sold in reusable cups with lids; so we got one. It reminds me of that vacation, and I use it; so for now, we keep it.

  2. Hi Annie – I remember Chilly Willy. We used to have those glasses too. 🙂

    I have never reviewed my gift wrap for those that I don’t like. I definitely can get that done and in just a few minutes!

    Over the last several years, hubby and I have been adding to our dishes that we get from Mexico, a very cheery red pattern. We bought the dinner plates and bowls one trip, Mom sent us the salad plates as a gift once, we’ve brought back serving dishes other times. Two years ago, Mom sent us six of the water glasses (which are pottery with the same red pattern). We have other drinking glasses that we use regularly and I don’t know that we’ve used the pottery ones even once! I feel bad for the cupboard space I am wasting, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of those drinking glasses. I could place all of our glasses on the counter and I could maybe find six to get rid of. Hmmmmmm.

    • Hi Michelle, I wonder if you are only keeping those glasses because your mother got them for you. Give that some thought. Glasses are meant to be drunk from. If that isn’t happening them perhaps it is time to rationalise. After all you do have the rest of the set to enjoy.

  3. Colleen, another good post. Again I am contemplating a move for us. I haven’t said anything to Mom yet but I want to go see this place everyone is talking about. We would probably have to have seperate quarters but that might be okay. We would still be in the same area. Because of this I am making a list of the things I think we can take with us so if I decide it is a good idea I can give this list to Mom to look over. One thing that would be good about this place is that we get one meal provided. All this to say that I am so very glad we have already done so much decluttering and I was especially able to get rid of a lot of my craft supplies and get Mom to declutter so much. I think we will have a lot less to deal with if we move.

    • Hi Deb J, I am so glad you are making plans to simplify your lives even further. I hope my mother’s success rubs off on you. She has convince my dad to move into an over 50’s gated community, downsizing from a 4 bedroom, study, large home to a two bedroom, 1 study, easy to take care of home. She has already begun the decluttering process in preparation for the move. They have only put a deposit on the property (it hasn’t been build yet) but that is a start. Now is certainly the time to start preparing. I was thrilled when she told me that my little brother had already come driven the four hours to their home to collect the tools that dad had offered him. I am so pleased for them.

      • How exciting Colleen. I’m so glad your parents are moving into a smaller home. That’s so much better than living with all that space to fill up. I was just told about another place to check into. I’m hoping one of them will work. We really need out of here and where we have no upkeep.

    • Deb J – that’s exciting news, have you been thinking about it for a while or an inspired idea?

      • Moni, I have thought of it before but decided against it at that time. It has become more evident that we need to just move. We just can’t keep up with the yard for one thing. We will see what happens.

        • Deb! I can’t wait to hear what happens. This sounds like it could be a good thing? I hope so!

    • Deb J – That is quite an exciting prospect (well, once the work of moving is done). If you end up in separate spaces it will be interesting to see if your Mother is further inspired to declutter, or if she is comfortable just where she is. Good wishes for your planning and decision!

  4. I had a small crate of wrapping paper, bows, gift bags which I have been using, plus a roll of brown paper. About two years ago I started making and using fabric bags and squares (furoshiki) for wrapping. Reusable, pretty, I enjoy making them and I am using some of my (quite small now) fabric stash: win win!

    The other day I realised I didn’t need the rest, so I picked out the best and donated them to our Hospice shop, they were pleased. I have kept the brown paper roll as this may be useful… hmm? If I haven’t used it in a few months it will go too. Now my crate has a few hand made bags and I am happy.

    Oh and we donated a table yesterday! Yay the space!

    • Well done Janetta. Personally I think a roll of brown paper comes in very handy. Good for sending ebay sales by mail and to dress up as gift wrap. I have run out now but if some comes along I use it up while card making. I also use food cartons in card crafting as well.

      I bet that table has freed up a nice chunk of space. Yay!

  5. This is for Michelle: If the red glasses are pottery could they be re-purposed as a home for pencils, pens, flowers craft supplies, etc.? Or just a pretty row of them for decor? They sound so pretty and wouldn’t necessarily have to stay in the cupboard.

    • Well, dang, Connie! I have never thought of them re-purposed. You are a smart gal, just like Colleen. Heck, one would be great as a vase, a pencil holder, etc. Boy, sometimes I can be very narrow-minded, i.e. “this is a glass and I should only drink from it.” Thank you so much for opening my eyes to something else. 🙂

      • I love that idea too! That would mean you could keep just one or as many as you find useful!

      • Thank you! I ask several questions when purging/de-cluttering. (Most of them Colleen has told us often.) I always ask: could I use this in some other way? It leads to interesting decor, storage, organization, clothes, etc.

    • Great idea Connie. They could also be used in the bathroom for rinsing after brushing teeth.

  6. Over the last ten years or so, I’ve grown to despise wrapping gifts, but it seemed like a necessary evil. Our big tub of gift wrap and gift bags was a constant source of stress to me (it was so hard to keep organized when my boys would wrap gifts). Over the past month I’ve been purging items from our house, and I finally hit upon a solution for the gift wrap tub! I got rid of the entire thing (boy, did that feel good!) and from now on, I will give gift cards or cash for gifts. I think it’s a win-win situation: I’ll save on the stress of wrapping and keeping the tub stocked and organized, I’ll save on shipping costs at Christmas time, I’ll save on the stress of having to buy/make all those Christmas & birthday gifts, AND all of my recipients will love them! Who doesn’t love a gift card? 🙂

    • Jamie – that’s an exciting bold move!!!!! I am awful at wrapping gifts, I just mangle them and it ends up looking like a 3 year old did the job. I still have a box of wrapping paper but its now over to my youngest daughter to do any gift wrapping. If a gift HAS to be wrapped, well first stop is to ask the shop if they do gift wrapping. If they don’t, would a gift bag do the trick?
      But yes I’m a fan of gift cards or even better vouchers for experiences, dinners out, movie pre-pay, the list goes on forever.

      • haha, I’m a terrible gift wrapper as well! When my kids were little I used to say they wanted to help wrap, but they are too old to blame now, so I am trying to avoid gift wrap (save a tree) and use gift bags that can be used over and over.

    • Good for you Jamie. If gift giving and wrapping was stressing you out the best thing to do was simplify and you achieved that admirably. I do much the same these days. But for the most part all of my out of town loved ones don’t exchange gifts any more. Just a card and a phone call.

      I for one would rather receive a gift card, cash, a meal out or nothing at all. No wrapping required.

      • I usually wrap gifts in newspaper. I get the newspaper later the same day from my neighbours, so there is always at least one in my kitchen. Either I read it, use it for wrapping/stuffing or it goes into the paper trash anyway.
        Whenever I have to wrap something like books or boxes, I check the newspaper first. There is ALWAYS a cool picture or a interesting layout in it… no need for the gift receiver to keep it, because there is no chance for the wrapping to survive for another go anyway.
        for bigger gifts I use the nice fancy bags that I get from shopping for new clothes.

        • oh I forgot. if I am in my super hyper creative mood, I even start colouring the wrapping with crayons. sometimes not pretty, but always individual. art is not permanent, right? 😉

        • One of the best wrappings I ever got was a road map of the city with the location of our wedding on top. Giver told me shekeeps a couple of road maps and cuts them for the location of the event. It felt so personal.

          • Hi Connie I keep my eye out for road maps all the time for craft reason, mostly card making. I agree they do make great wrapping paper too. In all the years I have been volunteering at the thrift store I have never seen one come through. But writting this has just given me a brilliant idea. The state Motoring Association must trash lots of them every year when they are updated. I must go and ask them sometime.

  7. Jamie, I am right there with you. Gift cards are fantastic! My mom has on occasion and my in-laws frequently give us gift cards to Olive Garden or Cabela’s and we absolutely LOVE those places.

  8. Hi Colleen, I just back from a trip and only took one small suitcase as per usual, this time smaller than the last. I do take a back as well. This time I took even less than I usually do and still had several items I did not wear. I only washed a few basics once. I traveled to England and France and knew the weather was going to be colder than I am now used to in California and that we would probably get rain. I plan to decrease the packing again next time I travel. The more I declutter at home, the more I try think about using items for more than one purpose and what I really need, versus want. It makes traveling and home life easier and a lot less stressful.
    I enjoyed reading the posts when I got back and loved coming home to house in great shape. I now have some ideas of other things I want to declutter, but there is no rush.
    I did the wrapping paper evaluation in Jan, but reading these comments today makes me think I can go back again. I now usually give gift cards, money, wine, or take people out for birthdays etc. I keep a few gift bags, wine bags and generic paper. The other paper items I got rid of was all the junk mail form while we were gone. I have signed up so that we are taken off the junk mailing list, but for some reason I seem to be getting more rather than less! This is a little frustrating
    Colleen, for the eco tip of not using too much of a product. I find that I tend to do this if I want to use something up because I don’t care for it. This is a good reminder. I also use hair conditioner, especially hotel bottles, as shave cream and it works great.

    • Hi Sheryl, well done with your packing efforts. I actually used everything in my bag on this latest trip. In fact I was almost one shirt short but I just got creative in a bid to preserve one clean shirt of the trip home. There is nothing worse than sitting beside a smelly person on a plane.

      Taking care of junk mail is so much easier here in Australia than in the USA. Most of it isn’t addressed to a person and all we have to do is put a NO JUNK MAIL sign on our letter box and it doesn’t get put in. Anyone who gets around that by addressing it to The Resident at our address, soon gets a phone call from me saying to remove our address from their mailing list. This usually works.

      I use moisturiser as my shaving cream.

  9. I occasionally find myself rationalising why I SHOULD KEEP an item rather than why I should get rid of it. I need to work on reversing this in my own head. It is hard, but it should get easier as I keep going right?

  10. I have been on a use it up challenge with my gift wrap (I have a lot of it)but it isn’t going so well. This Christmas I only used a small piece ( leftover from the year before that I had saved off of a larger gift that was still in good shape). I won’t live long enough to use it up at that rate. I like to wrap gifts but don’t buy many gifts (have 3 kids, no grandkids yet) anymore. I will probably buy one small gift each for the grandkids when we have some so won’t use much up then either. I will ask my kids if they want any of it and if they don’t I will find a charity for most of it including gift bags, bows and gift tags. I feel better just knowing it will be going out of here soon. I also have a bunch of boxes I saved for gift wrapping that will go too.

  11. Hi Colleen! Just checking back in and saw my comment at the top! That was a fun discovery! I just remember another unusual “glass” that I gave away a couple of months ago – the tea cups and saucers from our wedding china! Horrors, I know, but we never used them. Maybe once or twice in 20 years. I pictured wrapping and boxing those when we move for the rest of our lives and never using them. Just not worth it to keep a “set” whole.
    About wrapping paper, I was able to unload two plastic bins of wrapping paper and gift bags on my kids before we moved. I took two unopened rolls of Christmas paper with me and that was all. That made me so happy! There was so much wrapping paper in those bins that it was a chore every time to sort through it for something appropriate to the occasion. The kids were happy to have so much free wrapping paper and I am free from having it all!

  12. Hi Claire, I am not horrified by you decluttering the wedding china, I just offered my wedding dress to the milliner at the art space that I attend each week. She seemed keen. I’ll have to talk more to her about it tomorrow.

    Well done giving the wrapping paper to the kids. I have only one or two gift bags on hand these days and only those because someone has given them to me. I may consider letting them go because it is extremely rare for me to give material gifts.