How Do You Decide Who To Give What?


I have some high quality items that I’d like to offer to friends but I am undecided how to do it. I don’t want to offend anyone by asking if they want my clutter but at the same time, it would make me feel better to have them go to someone I know. I see you gift some items and others you donate. How do you decide what and who to give your treasure to?

Thank you,

A reader, CA, USA.


My reply:

This is a really good question because it is a tricky situation. I have the same anxieties about offering my stuff to people I know. I don’t want to put them in a position where they feel obliged to take something they’d rather not. And I don’t want them to think I’m being superior or viewing them as a ‘charity case’ that needs helping out.

Yet, it lessens the procrastination if I have a good home for them in mind. There are some things I think are ‘too good’ for the donation truck and it does really help me get closure if I know the person I’ve given the item to.

Give them the opportunity to say ‘No’

What I have done with these better quality items is email the person I have in mind to ask them if they would like it. I tell them that it is absolutely okay to say ‘no’ and also that they can just pass the item on when they are done with it. That way I feel I’m giving them two options to refuse – either directly or indirectly (by passing the item straight on.)

Saying ‘No’ via email is always easier than face-to-face so that’s why I choose that route. I am also genuinely not offended if someone says ‘No’ and I hope that comes through in my email, making it easier for the person to refuse if they want to.

Good matching

I try to match up the item with the person to make sure it is something they would like – in my case it is usually toys – so age and gender of a friend’s child is obviously relevant. But I have also given away stuff that is too old for a particular child at the moment but because it is a particularly good item and I know the family’s interests well, I figure that it is a good match and the child will grow into it.

Another place I offer stuff is on our school email list. We are a tight community and I know most of the people there. If I don’t know someone personally who would like my stuff, I will put it on there and likely someone will come to pick it up.

Expressed interest

I’ve had people tell me that when I’m ready to get rid of ‘x’ to let them know. I remember that and contact them when I am about to get rid of something. People drop clues as to their intentions and motivations all the time and I try to keep those in mind. I’ve also offered jewelry, books and artwork to friends that have expressed interest in similar, but not exact, items in the past.

I pay attention when people make reference to either enjoying getting other people’s stuff – these kinds of people often attend garage and rummage sale or buy from eBay. I also pay attention when people say they would never buy second-hand or say they were offended if they were offered something. I file this information away in my brain for future reference and use it appropriately.

I hope that helps.


If you’d like to ask me a question, please email me alison at alisongolden dot com or fill in the form below. I’d be happy to help if I can!

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