Or woman’s. My DH doesn’t have any clutter – that’s my speciality.
Further to my post yesterday, I’ve been thinking some more about ways to bless others with my lovely things.
Some people view this as being quite cold and ungrateful and, when I first heard of the concept, I was inclined to agree. Someone’s gone to the trouble of choosing you a gift, isn’t it callous to re-gift it? A few years ago I admired a beautiful vase at a friend’s house. It had been a gift to her from a friend. She appreciated the time and thought that had gone into choosing it for her but, unfortunately, it just wasn’t to her taste or style. She felt guilty having it stowed on top of the refrigerator. I sympathised with her as I also had received a thoughtful gift which was gathering dust – a Nigella Lawson cookbook. Now, I don’t have anything against Nigella Lawson and I love cooking but I just cannot take her cookbooks seriously. This stems from teaching Spoken Language at GCSE and one of the categories was TV chefs. “Scatter the onions pinkly” was a phrase in a clip we watched. Was she serious? How on earth could you scatter onions “pinkly”? My friend enthused about how much she loves Nigella at this point and it was like a lightbulb moment. Next time we met, we swapped. I took home the beautiful vase and she took home the cookbook.
2) Think of your loved ones and their hobbies and interests.
I come from a very crafty family and I am guilty of getting swept along with the latest craft obsession. At one point, I had four huge storage boxes full of card-making paraphernalia which just wasn’t getting used, not because I didn’t enjoy making cards, but because I didn’t have time. A friend’s daughter started to get into card-making and so I decided to give her all of my bits and pieces. A short while after that, I was given a card-making book as a present. The person who gave it to me wasn’t to know that I’d just blessed someone else with my crafty stash and the book is beautiful. I kept hold of it, poring over its pages on sunny afternoons, planning to take up card-making again one day soon. Four years later and I still haven’t started making cards again, so I text my auntie (who makes beautiful cards regularly and uses card-making techniques in her scrapbooking) and offered her the book. She was delighted.
At stitch and bitch the other night, two friends were eagerly discussing their new project: quilting. Now quilting is another craft I’d been desperate to try and I’d treated myself to a patchwork quilt cushion kit from The Works. It was only £5 but I’ve had it (out of sight, out of mind!) in a craft chest for two years and not even opened it. I think this will go to B on Sunday – she’ll be delighted I hope!
My grandmother said she wanted to paint and draw when she retired. I gave her my sketching pencils and a watercolour set which hadn’t been used in yonks. She immediately thought to give it to my cousin but I reminded her that she needs time for her, as well as all of us. She’s kept it (to my knowledge).
3) Look out for community projects to support
In my local area there are several residential care homes for the elderly. I’ve recently made contact with one to see if they would like any jigsaws or yarn for crochet.
Doctor’s surgeries are often grateful for (recent) magazines, as are hospitals and dental practices. My local vets sells second-hand books for 50p for a paperback and £1 for hardback book. All proceeds go to a local animal shelter.
4) Support schools and young people’s organisations
Budgets are tight in Education at the moment – my last school (the one without a library) was also struggling to get the necessary art supplies in for GCSE students. I looked long and hard at the cupboard of art supplies my parents bought for me for my own GCSE in Art, which had lain practically untouched since the day I got my results through. I’d not parted with them due to gratitude to my parents and my fortunate circumstances. Listening to my children stressing about where they were going to get 2B pencils from, however, I knew what I had to do. I offered the watercolour tubes and the acrylics and the oils and the two sets of new pastels to the Art department. Letting these supplies go made me feel so much lighter and happier. I hadn’t realised just how much storing these things had been weighing me down.
5) Donate Raffle Prizes
How often do schools have fetes and churches have bazars? That pack of smellies that you were given last Christmas but haven’t opened would make a lovely prize.
My headboard was a gumtree find. I simply typed in my postcode, typed in “headboard” in the search bar and up popped a beautiful wooden headboard for £10, collection only. When my husband and I pitched up to collect it, I was thrilled to discover that it was practically new – the gentleman explained that it had been on their spare bed in their guest room but a redesign meant they were getting rid of it. Now a headboard like that would have cost me £100 or more in a shop but in putting it on gumtree, this chap had helped me, had helped himself to declutter and had £10 pocket money to boot!
Not everything on Gumtree has a price – some are just free to a good home. If you’ve any household items that you may have been grateful to be able to receive when you were starting out, think how someone might feel about that now. Other sites such as freecycle also provide the opportunity to save clogging up landfill and to allow others the chance to make their houses homes, which otherwise would be a costly procedure.
A recent knitting magazine ran an article on how crochet blankets can be of great comfort to the homeless of an Eastern country. I forget the country now but I recall vividly the description of the freezing temperatures.
There are many charities you can craft for and donate to: some abroad, some at home but all will provide much needed support to someone in their time of crisis. My students love doing the shoeboxes at Christmas. Local women’s shelters often run a shoebox appeal. There are ones for African countries and Churches often run these too.
Recently, I’ve noticed that supermarkets often have a “donate” trolley near the front of the store. They appeal for people to purchase a store-cupboard good and place it in the trolley. Now, there’s rarely a time I remember to purchase something but what about when I’m making my shopping list for the week and checking my cupboards. The four-pack of baked beans I purchased last week but have only used one of – could I donate one? The tin of chickpeas I picked up when meaning to select kidney beans – they could be useful whereas I would leave them in the cupboard until past the sell-by date and then chuck them in the bin.
Do you have any good ways to bless others with your lovely but unwanted things? Any lovely stories about generosity you’ve received or witnessed? Let’s be thankful a moment not just for the kindnesses that others have shown and will show us, but that we are able to do kindnesses for others.
Pay it forward!