How To Tell Your Grandma You Don't Want Her Stuff

How To Tell Your Grandma You Don't Want Her Stuff

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Sarah Rae Smith
Sep 16, 2010

There's a fine line between having a few cherished pieces of previously-owned family treasures or heirlooms and being buried in the stuff your relatives want to get rid of. It's a natural thing to want others to have items you've loved in the past — so they can enjoy them the same way you did — but how do you say, "Grandma, thanks for the depression glass, but I really don't need a 70-year-old collection of bird statues"?

We'd like to say that the words that follow are only a guideline as every family and individual person is obviously different. Some folks really might not have a choice but to take on items from family members (even if you just have to figure out how to dispose of them later on). And for others, there's just no talking down some Grandparents who want to give you their belongings — so good luck with that!

For years, each time I'd visit our Grandparents my husband and I would come home with a car full of assorted items accompanied with the below sayings:

"We hear it's cold in Minnesota, here's 10 blankets from my closet."

"You like crafting, here's a giant box of all my old assorted supplies I don't use anymore."

"You like comics, we found these at the Thrift Store, they could be worth money!"

"I heard you wanted to learn how to knit, here's 40 odd knitting needles I don't need anymore!"

Although we've never faulted our Grandparents for being the most loving people in our lives, there is one small fact they never seem to understand: we simply don't have room to take on more things in our space. Over the years we've worked very hard to obtain said space and after many Spring and Fall Cure's here at Apartment Therapy, we've finally found some!

The only problem with claiming nothing new will go in our much sought after space is that it sounds selfish. After all, grandparents simply want to give you things to furnish your home because they know how much new items cost and they want to share pieces of themselves. They often love that you're into some of the same things they are (especially in the new wave of handcrafting items for your home) and want to pass on knowledge and a hidden stash of things from the basement or garage.

Over the last several years, there are a few phrases that have come in quite handy when it comes to fending off well-meaning and good hearted Grandparents. You don't want to step on any toes, but standing your ground can be just as important.

Here's a few ways to make the let down a little easier:
• "I'm sorry, I just can't. Although I remember [insert loving memory here of item], my place is super small and I just don't have enough space!"

• "It's ok Grandma, I don't need it, but thanks for the offer. If you don't want to keep it stored [insert name of location here] I'd be happy to take it to the Thrift Store for you, I'm sure there's someone who'd love to come across it!" (please note, this one is not for cherished heirlooms!)

• "Ooh, look Wheel of Fortune is on!" (we're only partly kidding)

• "Your house wouldn't be the same without it, it's one of my oldest memories of coming to visit! It should stay right where it is."

• "You know who said they'd like that? Cousin Barb. Man she loves [insert item here], you should ask her!"

• "Maybe someday, but right now I just don't have a way to display it and I would really want to show it off."

Have you encountered the same problem? What's worked for you in the past, share your story in the comments below!

Image: Flickr member greendaii licensed for use by Creative Commons

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