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How to say 'No' to unwanted gifts

Ok, so we have spent the time and effort on decluttering our homes and getting organisation systems in place……. And then birthdays and Christmas comes around and it feels like an avalanche of ‘stuff’ arrives in our homes. We are of course referring to presents, which we do not want to sound ungrateful for, but also please don't ruin our hardwork decluttering and organising.

So how can we set boundaries or say no without offending people?

Lets start with pre-emptive strategies which we think are the most effective upfront.

Hopefully those close to you will have noticed your efforts in a clutter free and organised home, so will be mindful from the beginning. But to be honest, there are lots of people where they just don’t think like that at all. So here are some things that you can do now;

·       Suggest secret Santa to limit the number of gifts, you are also more likely to get one more meaningful gift that you are more inclined to have in your home.

·       Suggest where people are buying for your kids, that they just buy for your kids and not the adults

·       Create a gift list (on amazon) for example, in the hope that the gifts that you and your children receive are things that are useful/ you will have a home for.

Advocate for clutter free gifts

The best of both worlds, you get a gift to enjoy but you also get to maintain your home, space and boundaries. And remember with perishable gifts like chocolate the quicker you eat them the better….

·       Suggest perishable gifts that will only take up space for a limited period of time, for example your favourite luxury, indulgent chocolates.

·       Highlight the value of experiences and memories over physical objects- comedy nights, concerts, spa afternoon.

As an adult it can sometimes feel like getting a date agreed in the diary can feel like a logistical nightmare. So to be honest we would MUCH rather get a date in to be able to spend quality (un interrupted) time with friends in the calendar, and all the better if it involves doing something fun or delicious food.

·       Monthly subscriptions, for example if you love flowers of coffee there are many services that will deliver monthly through the post, but they aren’t items that will continue to hang around.

If you need more ideas for clutter free gifts then check out our Christmas guide where we share lots there.

Practice saying no with gratitude- what we are trying to say here is that for most people it won't land well when they buy presents if you respond with 'can you not fill up my house with clutter?' so being a bit more tactful might preserve a relationship better.

We have definitely had it where someone has said ‘can I get this for your kids’ and it’s a huge thing. Its hard, but sometimes you do just have to say no. Ellie has said ‘its so kind of you to want to treat my kids like that, and its lovely that you are so close to them that you know they would love it. But honestly, I have nowhere to put it, so please don’t’

Declutter pre Birthday/Christmas

We find it less overwhelming when going to put birthday presents away if space is already clear, if seems to take some of the pressure off. So if you can plan it in before. In Ellie's house Amelia’s birthday is the end of November, so it is really important with the dates being close together to do this.

If you need a pre Christmas declutter of toys, check out our most recent blog post ‘parents ultimate guide to decluttering’

But also remember that this goes both ways- be really mindful of the gifts that you are buying the important people in your life.

Hope this tips help you maintain a clutter free home....

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Whatever your decluttering and organising challenge, just remember, we get it and we’ve got your back.


Ellie & Lucy

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