Sadly, we did not do much entertaining this year. We were home ALOT! COVID took away a part of our lives that allows us to use our most special possessions. I realized most of what fills my cabinets has no value when we did not entertain . How many times did you take out your china this year? How about all of those “family heirlooms” that are only for special occasions? I have an entire kitchen, shelves in my basement, a hall closet, and four furniture pieces filled with items specifically geared for guests. That is a lot of real estate in my home! And for a year, we really had no reason to use it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I want to have guests again and use all of it. Fortunately, COVID made me think about how silly it was that we ONLY use many of these platters and dishes when guests come.
Save the “good crystal”!
Recently, a good friend told me that her family was celebrating the news of her sister’s pregnancy. She suggested to her mom that they take out the “good crystal” for champagne. And her mom hesitated. Was THIS the right moment to use the “good crystal”? We laughed as she told the story. We keep waiting for that special time to take out the “good crystal.” Are we afraid of being too formal? Do we avoid using it so we do not have to do extra work to clean it or pull it out of storage? If a new grandchild is not enough to take out the “good crystal”, what is the point of having it?
Tea Set Guilt
This summer my mom was getting ready to put my childhood home on the market. We were cleaning out old cabinets of china and family heirlooms. She pulled out an old silver plated tea set that was her mother’s. She had been saving it for years. It was not even close to its original shine. The set had irreparable tarnish marks. If it was not for the family history I would not have thought twice about donating it.
We talked about how special it was to her and how she believed it might have “value”. Like many of the items my clients show me that have “value”, I had to tell her its only value was the sentimental kind. She couldn’t bear to donate it. She never used it my entire childhood or adulthood to ever serve tea. It sat in the back of a china cabinet my whole life. Now I felt guilty not keeping it in the family. I knew I had no use for a tarnished silver plated tea set. However, if I took it I would likely shove in a cabinet until my kids needed to clear it out.
My colleague, fellow Livable Solutions professional organizer, Lindsay, was helping get the house sorted and packed up. She said, “Why don’t you let Emily (my 4 year old) use it as a play tea set?” Brilliant! I gave it to my daughter. It gets used weekly and we all get to enjoy watching her use it. Why do we worry so much about keeping these “special” things so special that they become useless?
Everyday is a special occasion
After acknowledging that much of our own china, tablecloths, and platters did not get used this past year, I started making an effort to pull out the china. I used it to have a special meal with my husband. We took out all the Christmas glasses and switched them out for our regular ones for the month of December. I set the table in full Thanksgiving themed and Christmas china for our holiday meals alone with just our kids. Most importantly, I let go of a lot of useless items we would not use when we do entertain again.
Think about how much we keep in our homes for that once a year occasion. How many options do you really get to bring out your formal stuff? This year was an extreme exception. But, if you find yourself never having an “excuse” to use your formal and family treasures its time to reevaluate why you have them in the first place.