How To Handle Gifts From Family And Friends When Your Home Is Already Cluttered

Are you ready to reclaim your space and enjoy a clutter-free home? Even if you have generous family and friends?

So you're decluttering your home, yay! Now come the incoming presents from family and friends.

Then come the holidays, birthdays or just general gifts from family and friends. You find yourself frustrated again by the amount of things accumulating in your home. I have been asked often how to approach this, and while it's a complicated situation to be in. The solution is fairly simple.

Many people believe that accepting every gift is necessary to show appreciation, but that may be holding you back. If you're struggling with maintaining a tidy home despite the generosity of loved ones, this is the place for you. Ready to dive into a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating a clutter-free sanctuary?

First let's start at the core of what your family and friends are doing – expressing love.

If you are familiar with the 5 love languages, it is actually a dialect of expressing love!

When your friend gives you a box of toddler clothes for your newborn, they are trying to help you out.

When your in-laws buy those noisy toys they are wanting to give your child something special. In many cases trying to give the grandchildren the things they couldn't always afford as a parent.

When your family sends care packages full of trinkets and knick knacks they likely miss you. Maybe they are trying to remind you that you matter to them.

We attach emotions, memories, and love to our things. And then we share them with others.

I am not trying to convince you that you should be opening yourself up to receive everything that people want to send into your home. So HOW do we minimize this?

You Need Boundaries and Gratitude

Now, just because you currently struggle with setting boundaries, doesn't mean you can't achieve a clutter-free home. This does mean you need to learn how to say no with gratitude before you can enjoy a truly organized space, but I believe in you.

Let's be specific in planning how you will gain this essential trait:

  1. Assess Your Space: Take an honest look at your home and identify areas that need decluttering.
  2. Communicate Your Needs: Have a gentle conversation with your family and friends about your need for less physical gifts.
  3. Practice Saying No: Start small by politely declining one gift and expressing your gratitude in other ways.

Because I know how important setting boundaries and expressing gratitude is, I put together this free (really free!) guide for you. Use it to communicate effectively and maintain a clutter-free home.

Click here to get my mini course all about setting these boundaries!

More On Boundaries…

If you've been finding yourself drowning in a sea of stuff because you feel obliged to keep every gift, you may want to challenge that thought. Ask yourself, why do I think I need to keep every item gifted to me, and who benefits from this action?

Expanding on this, it's important to recognize that your home is your sanctuary, and it's okay to set boundaries. Politely communicate your need for less “stuff” and more meaningful experiences or consumable items. This way, you show gratitude without compromising your space.

Bonus: I have a mini course on Setting Boundaries around holidays, special occasions and sentimental items that might be beneficial for you. 

Be proactive in requesting the gifts and things your family wants or needs

Here's an example of what the communication can look like. Derrick is really into sport! Gifts in line with that such as a basketball, hoop, books on famous basketball players or tuition payment for club basketball would be great!

Often times we just expect people to know what we want, or don't want. With the way our society is consumer driven,  we often fall back on those consumerist type gifts. Sometimes they will listen, sometimes they won't but if you are consistently proactive in this message, eventually I think they will understand and even come to really enjoy giving your family gifts they know you really want.

Set the tone for the gift giving in your family or friend circle

If you are very direct and upfront about asking what they would like for gifts they will likely feel more comfortable asking you what you would like. People like to be led, so lead the conversations you have around this topic in a bold and appreciative way.

It's only weird if you make it weird and I think MOST people want to have these kind of conversations on some level.

Be the leader. I know for me personally, gift buying for holidays and birthdays is overwhelming and I would much rather someone tell me what they want. For all my fluent speakers in gifts as a love language – please don't be offended by this! I really just am a terrible gift giver!

Get comfortable saying “No thank you”, and “No” to free

Most of you reading this are in the throes of mom life. You have friends, cousins, siblings, grandparents, and everyone else offering you up their baby gear, baby clothes, toys, books and whatever else they are likely trying to purge from THEIR homes.

This is so nice of them, to think of YOU when getting rid of essentials you likely *might need one day. But this is probably the fastest way to inherit clutter.

Just because it's free, doesn't mean you need it. And saying no doesn't make you ungrateful. It makes you the gatekeeper of your home and space. It's easy to say no with grace “Thanks so much! We are already set on everything we need!” that's it! So easy, and still so polite.

Accept that people's gifts aren't responsible for the condition of your home

I  understand how frustrating it can be to be given gifts that you just feel like are contributing to the clutter of your home. However, it is possible to get to a point that your home is simplified enough that holidays and gifts can just be fun. With paring down to your base minimal lifestyle, it is easy to accept a fun toy or kitchen gadget from a friend.

Know that your friends and family are trying to express their love for you when they buy or offer to give you things.  You can say no with a grateful heart and without hurting feelings.

I am happy to say that I have achieved a clutter-free home, and my routine directly influences my ability to maintain this space. And it's because of this:

I have chosen to be a gatekeeper of my home. What I have and keep is MY choice and I can be grateful, while also saying no thank you. Or discarding items that no longer serve me that were given to me. 

Some Advice from Marie Kondo

I like to shake it up with info from all over the web. My favorite organizing guru, Marie Kondo, has some critical advice for you. She says, “The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don't.”

For more great tips like this, check out her blog and books. [link for SEO]

Never Compromise Your Space for the Sake of Others

Your great-grandma means well when she says, “You should keep this, it’s a family heirloom,” but it's another thing that's holding you back. Instead, look for experts like Marie Kondo for guidance. When you're running out of steam working on decluttering, this quote from Marie Kondo may spur you on: “The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.”

Wrapping it Up!

We've covered setting boundaries, creating a daily decluttering routine, and learning to say no with gratitude. Did you follow all of the tips from this post? You are well on your way to achieving a clutter-free home.


Even if you have little time, energy or day to day support