Simple Saturday ~ A fellow 365er wants your advice

I received an email from one of our fellow 365ers, who shall be referred to as O, this week and she would like her fellow 365ers advice on what to do with a certain object she is having trouble parting with. It is difficult, not because she doesn’t want to part with it because she most certainly does but because it falls into the obligation clutter category and it is difficult to know exactly how to dispose of it responsibly. Perhaps you can help her out with a little advice, I have already given her mine. Please see below the story of this item.

O’s Story

Some years ago I took part in a sporting event as a volunteer and it was an amazing experience. Personally, I only need to think of it and I feel the same happiness and joy because I was part of it. I didn’t buy or want any memorabilia then – and this was way before any ideas of decluttering came my way. However, to mark my own and the team’s I was working with involvement, a group of volunteers from the host town commissioned a local artist to make us the souvenirs. You can guess where this is going, right? They were chunky, ceramic plates with the logo and date of the event. My plate is really pretty for what it is *but* it is neither something I’d display as it’s not really my taste nor I’m a fan of the ceramic as such. Nor I like the color of it. So, for the last several years it had been shifted from one shelf to another as I really didn’t want to even look at it for the fear I’d feel guilty I hadn’t displayed it. And I am now in my third home from the moment when I’d been given the thing!

I consider myself reasonably decluttering mature (still a long way to go, but I am on the right track), yet this plate is a problem I want to solve.

I don’t like it and don’t want it. There shouldn’t be any dilemmas about it’s destiny.

But. Part of me, of course, thinks that throwing it away deliberately would offend the wonderful, kind people who gave it to me. Not that they would know, but still. It is a work of a respected and well known artist in the region, and I feel it’s not right from that point of view either.

Yes, if it fell of the removal truck it would have been problem solved, but that did not happen. Thankfully. Yet, I cannot think of any other way to make it leave my life but to throw it away. Nobody would really be interested in it, it’s not really thrift store, ebay or even museum sort of thing.

As I think there are only two options here: keep it forever in the bubble wrap (and be annoyed by the space it takes, however small) or throw it away, can somoene please enlighten me that there are other possibilities – or give me enough encouragement to simply throw it away?

* * * * * * *

So readers please leave your advice in the comments section below.

The Weekend’s Mini Missions

Saturday – Declutter excess gift wrapping supplies. Last week I took the bulk of what I had left ~ gift bags, ribbons and bows ~  to the thrift store. As I have adhered almost religiously to my “no material gifts” pledge I decided it was time to purge these “just in case” items. The bag of bows was sold before I finished my shift.

Sunday – Declutter excess serving bowls. I probably have too many nice serving bowls but one thing is for sure, I don’t need to keep the cheap plastic one. It tends to be the everyday use option while the good ones are saved for when I have guests but you know my opinion on that tactic so out it goes.

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About Colleen Madsen

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


  1. If you still know any of the people that you volunteered with (via facebook or anything else) you could ask them if they remember the plates, what they did with it, and get a feel for it. Then you’ll have an idea of what they’ve done (maybe half of them already threw it away).

    If you still like the memory of it and know a crafty person, perhaps they could make a piece of it into something you would like (perhaps a shard or two as a necklace or pair of earrings or a charm bracelet, or a new ceramic sculpture/vase that uses the broken pieces for texture). If you don’t care about the memory you could still offer it to the crafty person if they want it (but don’t force it on them).

    Perhaps contact the artist if you remember them and ask them if they want one of their old pieces back.

    Put it on Craigslist/Freecycle for your area. Someone may be a huge fan of the team (or for the area that the team is from, though that could be a money-losing endeavor with shipping, but could result in someone appreciating it)

    If after all that, no one wants it, you don’t have to feel bad throwing it away. I personally would send it to a thrift store that seemed like it could sell it (there’s one in my area that half the store seems to be ceramics). Take a photo of it (yes, it’s digital clutter then, but I prefer that). Maybe you could ceremoniously shatter it (I’ve always wanted to throw something breakable at the ground). You don’t seem to particularly want to keep it, so if you’ve tried what you can, it’s fine to get rid of it. Not everything can be saved.

  2. There’s really no valid reason it couldn’t be sold on ebay as one never knows who is collecting artwork by this particular artist. There even may be a collector of funky ceramic plates. You just never know. Try selling it on ebay (larger pool of buyers) and if it doesn’t sell, just give it to a thrift shop. As hard as it is to give up (sounds like because of guilt) you’ll be so glad you did! Guilt is a bigger burden than the plate. I know the feeling. So here’s my encouragement to set yourself free. You can do this hard thing.

  3. Rebecca B. A. R.

    Other than craigslist/freecycle/thrift store options, you might consider donating it to your local library, or to your local historical society (if your in the same area where you participated in the sport). Either place might want to display it, especially if a local artist made it. I would also keep a digital photo of it for myself. If none of these appeal to you, you could always use it under a plant to catch any extra water that runs out!

  4. If someone else lives with you, leave the plate out on the counter and ask them to dispose of it when you are not around. I did this once with a sweet (but dirty) stuffed animal given to me by a student. I kept it though the school year, but after the students were gone for summer, I set it near the trash can and asked the custodian to please make it go away. I couldn’t have thrown it away myself, but I really didn’t want the poor dirty rabbit and don’t think it would have been popular at the thrift store either.

  5. If it’s the work of a well-known artist, is there any chance that artist would want it as a memento? What about the rest of the team you were working with? Explain to them that you really appreciate their thoughtfulness/art/whatever, and tell them that you’d like them to have the plate.

    And if nobody who *should* want it wants to take it off your hands, that tells you that it has no value to them. Why, then, should it have value to you?

    Repeat after me: “It’s not my responsibility to hold onto the world’s garbage.” 🙂

    If it’s usable as a plate, donate it to Goodwill. Somebody will buy it for a quarter eventually. Or if you happen to know somebody that collects work by that particular local artist, donate it to them.

    Either way, get it out of your house before it drives you completely nuts!

  6. Could you use it? If it is big, maybe as a serving plate? And then if it gets broken in the general hubbub of life, well, at least you used it iyswim. Rather than saving it “for best” because you really don’t want to? Then if it does get broken (by accident or design 😉 ) you can always say to people that you took great pride in using it as a memento of what it was?

  7. Not sure if this will help or not, but my husband had an ugly coffee mug that even he hated but felt he had to keep because a family member gave it to him. The husband also has a bad habit of sitting his coffee mug on the back bumper of his truck as he fiddles around getting in said truck. So one day I leave the house & am sitting at a red light in my car when I casually look out the window & what do I happen to see laying in the ditch? Yup, that ugly coffee mug. The handle was obviously broken off & I smiled the biggest smile I could.
    Anyways, a few weeks later I’m in the attic sorting through old stuff to declutter when I come across a handmade “going away gift” that had giving to me by some fellow employees when I relocated to another state. It’s basically an etched glass obilesk that everyone autographed with some special etching tool. Heavier than lead & uglier than a mud fence but still – sentimental & one of kind I suppose. I knew I could never donate it as it is personalized. I knew I couldn’t just pitch it out for guilt reasons. I knew my husband wouldn’t pitch it out for fear I would later hold him responsible for it’s demise & yet I knew I didn’t want to keep dragging that thing around…..then I got to thinking about the coffee mug that ended up broken in a roadside ditch.
    So, I left that decision as to what to do with the obilesk to the gravity gods. I put it in a cardboard box & basically shoved it out the attic stairwell onto the garage floor. If the gavity gods saw fit to take the obilesk – so be it. But if they did not, then I was prepared to try again but from the rooftop next time.
    Well the gravity gods did indeed decide the final fate of the obilesk & a moment of silence occurred right before I broke out in uncontrollable audible cheers!

    • Grace from Brazil

      I got the biggest chuckle out of this! The “gravity gods”, what a hoot. I really thought the same thing but not so creatively. If it broke you would be set free and if anyone asked you then you could say, “Ohhh, it broke!”. I was given a flower vase, totally NOT my color scheme but given from a dear friend who really wanted to give me something that she thought was beautiful. Well, when we moved the gravity gods took it. When it broke my daughter was a bit confused when I did not fuss. I was so relieved. So take it out of the bubble wrap and let it go. (That is if you think absolutely no one wants it.) Jane, this will be one of my new phrases.

    • I *LOVE* this idea! Simple and effective and gives you a great excuse (it broke!). I’m still laughing reading the post:)

    • Gravity gods – I must remember this one 🙂

    • Hi Jane – you have given me the best laugh this morning! And nothing like getting a 2nd opinion from the gravity gods.

    • Jane – or…….it could be given to Great-Aunt Lulu’s stuffed gorilla!


      Ooppss, it broke! 🙂 Yay.

      The ‘gravity Gods’ assisted me in the decluttering of a very ugly thing from family members. I was never so happy. *wink*!!!

  8. To paraphrase Robert Wall’s pithy wisdom:

    Repeat after me:
    “It’s not my responsibility to hold onto other people’s memories.”

  9. I paint ceramic plates and I would be happy if someone wanted to throw out my offering, as I think (given I’ve not given anyone anything yet) that once I’ve given it to them that’s it, they can do with it what they want. I still have a plate my mother won once so I know your dilemma. Would you be happy if you accidentally broke it? As that would absolve you!..that’s an indication that it would be better to give it away/put it under plant pots/break it and put it in outdoor pots as drainage, etc.

  10. Debbie in Alberta

    I hope to give you enough encouragement to simply throw it away!

    I believe those that had it commissioned for you were wanting to do it in the spirit of showing you appreciation; but at the same time I believe nothing should be given with strings attached – that once one has shown appreciation for the gift/gesture received – you are free to do with it what you wish.

    Normally I’d suggest you take a photo of it first; but it sounds like it brings up more guilt about the gift than fond memories of the occasion.

    Time to toss!!

  11. Some fabulous comments above that will be helpful I’m sure .Mine is just to say I would wrap it carefully and respectfully and take it straight to the nearest thrift shop .It has overstayed its welcome and its time for it to be moved on as quickly as possible.But it can’t take itself to the shop-you have to do it. And don’t assume that no-one will be interested in it at the thrift shop -someone will want it and who knows for what reason.I’m sure the person who made it would not want it to be making you miserable. It needs to go!!

  12. I like these ideas.

    I’d also say that one of the other recipients may want yours. Perhaps they broke theirs and would love the replacement.

    I echo what Jez said — thrift store. It’s amazing the things people fall in love with/have need for! 🙂

  13. What to do with the chunky, ceramic plate? I’d go for a ritual bless and goodbye ceremony.

    Keep the joy , pleasure and satisfaction but release and let go of all the rest i.e. the holding on and the heavy feelings associated with the keeping of this object. Write a letter of thanks in which you remember and pour out your thanks and gratitude in great detail and then continue to write down in great detail why you are now letting it go. Then burn the letter ceremoniously while saying: ” I thank you , I bless you , I love you and now I release you “. Smash up the plate into tiny bits which can either be mixed with the ashes of the letter and used at the bottom of flower pots or mixed in with soil in the garden, or recycled with other ceramic goods.

  14. I was going to say, take a picture and put it in a tiny frame as a remembrance of the event and then offer it to one of the other participants in the event with you. Someone else might have loved it and theirs got broken. But after reading all these comments about just making more clutter with a photo, I felt a little silly recommending this. The other option that someone here mentioned is to contact the artist and see if he/she would like to have it back. I agree. If it was something he/she felt good about doing and liked the work, he/she might actually want it back. If none of these is a viable option, give it to the thrift store and tell yourself that you enjoyed it for the moment it represented but you have moved on. One thing that I do with odd plates is use them under my flower pots. Eventually, they will get too grubby to bring back in the house and you can toss with a clear conscience.

  15. Well, if it is something you wouldn’t display anyway…then it should be a no brainer. Take a picture or two of it and get rid of it.

  16. Just toss it already. Like Jane said, it’s yours to do with as you wish.

  17. I had similar item, a large crystal slab “Employee of Year ” award from nat’l company I haven’t worked for since 2002. It now sits as a perch for small birds in bird bath. How I figured out how to move it out of house, I asked myself why was I spending energy thinking about a piece of crystal that doesn’t think about me or even know I am alive. O, may I suggest that you don’t expend anymore thought on an inanimate object, get it out of the house – trash it, make into a mosaic, embed into concrete paving stone… just move it out.

  18. Years ago, I rode the train between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. A Polish immigrant had a ceramics shop. To demonstrate the superiority of his ceramics, he’d pick up a plate or cup and smash it as hard as he could into the ground–and it would shatter into many hundreds of satisfying pieces. Then he’d pick up a similar object that he’d made, smash it into the ground, and it wouldn’t break. At this point, I’d be really curious to know if your piece of ceramic clutter would break or not. Was your ceramic piece as well made as that of the Polish-American who lived in Silverton, Colorado? There’s only one way to tell, and if it shatters into hundreds of pieces, oh well–it was a scientific experiment.

  19. Maybe I’m wrong, but I felt from your wording that you don’t want to put the piece out into society for someone to perhaps notice that you have gotten rid of it. If that is so, I second the suggestion from Amanda (first comment above) to shatter it – ceremoniously … or even surreptitiously in the dark of night!! No one but you needs to know how it met its fate, just that it “broke”. Good luck 🙂

    • Jo, you are right, I don’t want to risk someone ever finding out I got rid of it, however unlikely it is.

      • Then I would say go forth and shatter it, and like Jo said, no one but you needs to know that it didn’t just “break.” If ceremoniously shattering it is too much, then take my advice: Ceramic plates look just PERFECT when they are balanced on the corner of a patio table (or any table) for that matter. *nods and winks*

  20. This is what I did with some unwanted art works that were given to me once – I tracked the artist down on the web (she no longer lived with the brother of the friend who gave them to me) and I posted them back anonymously!

    Some time later I did the same with some jewelery that had been made by a friend that I could no longer ever see myself wearing and that my daughter did not want either. In this case it was not anonymous, but my friend did not mind in the least.

    And once I “donated” (via the post) a non-working cookoo clock that had been a wedding gift to a clock menders shop I passed on my daily bus ride – again anonymously.

    In none of these cases did I feel the slightest regret after the deed was done, but they were items that had troubled me quite a lot prior to that. So ship that plate back to the club, or the artist and never give it another thought!

  21. Think of it as a gift–the thought was what counted. Most thrift stores have shoppers who can afford whatever they want, but just love to find unusual things. I have even heard of collectors of “ugliest things they can find”. So there is no guilt involved in giving away a gift. Someone–maybe Cindy?–wrote “photos aren’t sacred” which has helped me get my thinking straight. Trophies, awards, etc. aren’t “sacred” either. A thrift store donation would be the less thought and effort for you, I think. Forget guilt.

  22. O, you would be amazed how people will buy things in thrift stores you never would have thought would sell. Take it to the nearest drop-off and don’t worry any more. I know a lady who buys things like that and then breaks them up to use to make craft items.

  23. We all tend to “over think” decisions in our lives. A philosophy that I have taught my daughter is, “Do not complicate that which can be made simple”. You just need to stop thinking about it, looking at it, pondering over it. Just make a decision and be done with it. After reading your post, I vote for…..toss it out or donate it.

  24. I learned that if there is something that holds meaning, but you don’t really want/need it any longer, take a photograph of it and let it go. Bring it to goodwill or donate it to a local shelter. And if it’s just a case of possibly hurting someone’s feelings, they’re not thinking about the plate – only you are. Good luck!

  25. Some fantastic ideas and views here, thanks everyone. By all means keep them coming, reading your words of wisdom had turned out to be a very interesting and educational experience.

  26. If you MUST find an event-related home for the item, you could offer it to the sport association or whoever hosted the event, or to the museum or gallery in the host group or artist’s home town.

    My personal recommendation — take up skeet shooting! One little plate is taking up a whole lot of your life. If you toss it, the noise you hear will be all of us cheering.

  27. I think the suggestions of offering it back to the artist saying that you appreciated her gift very much but thought she might like to have it, then offer it to the other participants. If no takers, off to the thrift shop. If it doesn’t sell, they will dispose of it in due course.
    Good on you for taking the plunge with this o clutter. It’s got to go!!!!

  28. There are a lot of good suggestions here, but I’ve found that the more you think about it and the more options you work your way thru the more entrenched in your home it will be. I vote that you donate it to Goodwill or your nearest charity store. It was to commemorate a community event, so set it free again into the community.

  29. If the artist is well known then I would think of selling it, either via somewhere like eBay or if this artist has a following and then donate the money to charity, the other option is contacting the club you were attached to and asking if they would like it

  30. I agree with Gail’s comments. Be creative, make it into something else like a Mosaic or use it as a saucer under a large pot in the garden, or make it into a bird feeder. But deep down, you already know the answer or you wouldn’t have agonised over it so much. Take a photo and then just ditch it!

  31. Ahhh, gift wrap. I have a little bit of a thing for gift wrap. I feel guilt over decluttering it when really, I’ve spent approximately $2 a roll and I’d be passing along around 8 rolls. $16 isn’t too bad, eh? But, alas, we get hung up on items $20 or less.

    The bags are even worse. I have two bags stuffed with smaller bags and I don’t even give that many gifts!

  32. Dear O,

    If your plate could talk or sing this is probably what it would be saying:
    “Please release me let me go!! Cos you don’t love me anymore” Nuff said!

    It’s yours to do with whatever you want!! Why the guilt, why the procrastination?? Obviously the easiest thing to do is throw it out with nary a second thought, but yet you still have it tucked away and pricking at your thoughts! You can mull it over and over but to what end. Something is keeping you tied to the ‘Keeping of the object’. If you do not want, need or like it then said object should part ways with your life. You said yourself you only have to think of the event to remember the happiness it brought you.! You can find inventive ways to try and get rid of it but to quote ‘Yoda’ (maybe not verbatim) there is no try there is Do or Do Not. Release it from your life right now!! Anything, no matter the size, no matter how well hidden, is part of your life and will ping around in your head. Don’t make it your ball and chain, there is no law that said you must carry everything around with you. Here at 365 we have all had something that we uummed and aarrhhed about. Mine’s a cupboard full at the moment and believe me it ain’t staying with me.

    In my experience if you hang onto something you just don’t want then you are not freeing yourself up to invite things toward you that you do want. Make the space in your cupboard and your head Now!!!

    If it was really special and something you want to look at for the rest of your life it would be in a place of honour and you would tend to it, but it isn’t and you won’t so off to the universe with it.

    Short version: Oops it fell out of the wrapping onto a hard surface and oh dear now it needs to be swept up and put in the bin!!! Hahahaha wishing you a guilt and clutter free day 🙂 :0 :0 🙂 🙂 🙂

  33. Find a local mosaic artist. I have seen beautiful artwork made from shattered ceramics. Gift it to the artist and let him/her transform it into a new piece of art.

  34. Julia St. Charles

    Give it to the museum in the town where the event took place, the town historical society, or the board of directors of the athletic event. Include an anonymous note: “A limited number of these were made, I can no longer keep mine due to limited space, and I thought you might want this for your collection to remember the event.”

    Decision is out of your hands once they have it.

  35. Dear O,
    I think you have answered your own question in the last paragraph: that you wish to throw it away but lacks the courage to do so. I think the abovestanding comments have given you plenty of options -my personal favorite beeing the “gravity gods”. You have given the question a lot of thought, now Just Do It 🙂 Smash it into the ground or just simply throw it away. There, now you’ve done it. How will you reward yourself for doing it? 🙂

  36. Maybe you can invite a friend over or have your spouse drop it on accident for you. That would solve the problem. Then go celebrate!

  37. I love all these creative suggestions, but I disagree with the “photograph and release” philosophy. It’s ugly. She doesn’t like it or want it, and she’s said that just remembering the event brings her happiness. Why photograph something you don’t care about or value? Then it’s just tinier, e-clutter, but it’s still clutter.

  38. O, there is a larger issue here about worrying what other people think. Why is their opinion of you worth more than your own?? If you’re not happy with keeping it then get rid of it, period. If it were me, I’d put it in the trash bag as it is….just to prove I’m worth more than all the angst it’s causing me! Yes, you might suffer guilt for a day or two but then life with all its busyness will take over and it will leave your thoughts. Trust me, I know.

    A quote that has helped me is ” You’d worry less what other people think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” If people love and care about you they will think, “well, she must have had a reason” and then move on. If they don’t love and care for you they’ll just find something else to complain about you. So, do what makes YOU happy! It’s just a plate, after all.

    • Hi Klyla, welcome to 365 Less Things. I have to say I agree with you and thank you for being honest enough to say so. I have gotten rid of a lot of things during my decluttering mission that other people had given me and not one of them has disowned me because of it. Granted most of them are oblivious to the fact that I have done this but that just means once given they don’t care what I do with my stuff.

  39. Really, I just don’t see the problem. There’s no one to hurt or offend by getting rid of the thing. I wouldn’t labor over trying to find someone who wants it (they probably don’t). I WOULD donate it ASAP. Someone out there will be happy to find it for whatever reason, and someone else will benefit from the donation. It really IS that simple.

  40. Just today, I was rearranging my wardrobe and came across a keepsake sweatshirt which neither ever really fit me (it’s too big) nor do I want to wear it in public anymore. It is still in a nice condition, but due to the print rather nothing for the thrift store either. It went back to the wardrobe as “home wear” again. I’ll put that into the clothing recycling bin tomorrow and you trash that plate or give it away, whatever is easier for you.
    Just as someone else wrote above: memorabilia like that are meant to be a treat and to be something to evoke happy memories and happy feelings. They are not meant to be cluttering up your home. If they don’t make you happy, they have no further purpose and there is nothing left to do with them than get rid of them. Their ONLY purpose is to make you happy.

  41. Pick up plate. Put inside pillowcase. Tie pillowcase shut. Walk outside to nearest concrete surface. Envision something that really makes you mad. Get really worked up. Smash the plate. Open the pillowcase and toss shards. Put pillowcase in wash. Done.

  42. What about giving it away publicly? If the artist is really known in your area you may use next charity event to donate it for tombola or auction. You won’t offend anyone if you offer your holy artwork for helping e.g. disabled, children, …

  43. I like the very first suggestion from Amanda, to contact the group and ask how others have used their plates. If you’re lucky, someone will respond to say that sadly their plate was damaged and they are simply heartbroken over it. And then, kind person that you are, you’ll send them yours.

  44. Maybe make a photo of the plate, and together with some notes about the event its from store it on your PC ….

    And dispose of the plate using one of the methods already mentioned by others 😉

  45. After reading all these comments, I went around my house this weekend and looked for all the “awards” I have gotten from work and realized that none of them really meant anything to me anymore. Most were generic things that did not even have my name on them. So, off to the donation box for the next giveaway. Thanks for the boot in the butt. Our things really do get so entrenched in their place on the shelf that we never see them. I was amazed at the number of prizes I still have.

    • Well done Maggie, you have allowed someone else’s story and the comments that ensued to make you come to the realisation that you had similar uncared for clutter right under your nose. I am constantly on the look out for this kind of clutter and my husband and I often quiz one another on certain items owned by the other that don’t seem to matter much. We often come to the conclusion with a little encouragement from the other that these items can go.

  46. For goodness sake – how long have you spent worrying about what to do with this thing – life is too short. Take it to your local recycling place and let them find a home for it. You will never know whether someone else wanted it but at least you didnt throw it away. Then stop feeling guilty and enjoy the weight lifting off your shoulders

  47. Soooooo, what happened to the plate?

  48. Grace from Brazil

    Would you believe the gravity gods visited my house the other day? I did not even know they were around. I was cleaning my son’s room and a large ostrich egg rolled off his dresser. Now the ostrich egg was a gift, a reminder of a lovely time we had in South Africa BUT it was just one more curio hanging around. When it rolled off the dresser I laughed instead of moaned as I thought of the gravity gods. Yes, I would also like to know what happened to the plate.