Hoarding: Use it or lose it

Did you ever watch that show “Hoarders”? Not sure if it’s on anymore, but I confess that the few times I saw it, it made me more than a little uncomfortable. I could see myself going down that slippery slope to hoarding without too much trouble (with stuff that I love, that is — not trash, broken items, hoardingetc.).
I tend to hang onto way too many items: clothes that I loved that don’t (and probably never will) fit, old jewelry that I just can’t give up, and especially items such as gift wrap bows, tissue paper, bubble wrap (you can’t have too much of that, can you?). But, after a certain amount, it makes my poor DH absolutely nuts. Also padded envelopes and mailing boxes, especially the smallish ones that are just right for sending perfume samples. And let’s not even talk about the samples themselves.

I’m trying to be better as I’m getting older, as I’m finding my life to be much easier without a lot of junk cluttering it up. It’s funny, somehow, isn’t it? We spend more than the first half of our lives acquiring things, through college and / or jobs, relationships and families, and then the later years trying to simplify and get rid of a lot of it. I have to admit there are some days when I really wish I’d been born a minimalist.

Anyhow, as this relates to our perfumed world: Are you, or have you ever been, guilty of hoarding your fragrance or body products? I’ve done a bit of that myself, ostensibly saving them for “something special.” And then the special occasions come and go and I either forget about the items or can’t find them in the mad rush to get ready for said occasion. Until, ultimately, they up and go bad, and then it’s too late …

I’m ashamed to tell you guys this, and it makes me want to cry a little, but years ago I had to pitch close to half-full containers of various original Chanel Coco body products because they’d gotten pushed back, out of sight and forgotten about for way too long. Another casualty from back then: A jar of Issey Miyake body cream, although some might say that’s not quite such a big loss, but I did enjoy it at the time. And there are probably several other things that I can’t recall now — or have blocked from my memory.

We’ve all heard stories about someone’s aunt or grandmother who passed away, and relatives cleaning out her house find a drawer (or maybe more) full of unopened boxes of vintage Shalimar or some other scent that she was hoarding away. I really don’t want that to be me.

Of course, it’s understandable to stock up on your “precious,” especially if it’s a hard-to-find vintage, or (shudder) has been discontinued. It’s one thing to actually wear it often, or do you hang onto it just to have it? I’ve done that a bit with some of my vintage Cartiers, and I need to make myself use them before it’s too late.

Any experiences, stories or tips to share? If you have those tendencies, how do you curb them?

62 Comments
odonata9 February 19, 2013

My mom is a low level hoarder (mostly paper items and sentimental stuff - she had a dad who gave away some very special family items, so think she just went in the other direction) and I am trying not to get that way. I also hold on to sentimental stuff (high school notes! yes, I've got them!), clothes that will almost definitely never fit again (but think I will probably finally getting rid of those soon - I'm pregnant, so the chances of ever fitting in to them again is really going down!) and toiletries (mostly hair stuff). I know I'll be forced to get rid of a lot os stuff soon as we live in a tiny house and with twins on the way, we'll need all the space we can get. We used to live in a house with an open closet with built-in shelves in the bathroom and all my friends used to give me such a hard time about how much crap I had and called me the "toiletry queen." I do tend to buy lots and lots of backup hair stuff since I have very particular hair and just about every product I've ever used has been discontinued. I don't feel too bad about my perfume collection as it isn't too huge, but it is still way more than I will ever use. I am an undersprayer by nature, and also my husband gets migraines and scent is often a trigger. So I generally just wear perfume to work. Which is fine, but I'll probably never get to use up all those samples I have - who wants to test something before going to work if it might suck! Oh well.

unseencenser February 19, 2013

Wow, strike a nerve much? I'm constantly trying to balance between having everything I want, and not making myself crazy with too much crap. I use fleurdelys' system of physically capping space for many things, with the difference of changing the system when it's needed. :-/ I'm offloading some bottles I don't use enough but can't bring myself to throw away to less accessible storage, with the thought that in another year, if I haven't bothered to dig any of that out and wear it, it's got to be reasonable to give it away/sell it/recycle it somehow. Or even (shudder) toss it. (I find it tough to get rid of bottles once I've decided they need to go. Obviously I'm not getting rid of vintage Diors or anything, and stuff I don't want to wear turns out to be stuff no one really seems to want to wear!) I just posted about my new sample filing system, which makes me really happy. I find the important thing is to paw through it all periodically, and rotate lesser worn things out and in. I too have been guilty of hoarding body products and had to throw them away, which made me feel sufficiently sad that now I'm mostly not doing it any more (I still have two more tubes of MAC Naked Honey shower gel, though, and I ain't getting rid of them!!! Also one more Kings & Queens Caspar Myrrh shower gel.) On the plus side, I am FORCING myself to use my Amouage Memoir body cream this winter. OH IT'S TOUGH GOING! FORCING MYSELF, I TELL YOU! (If I had to throw any of that away I really would cry.)

shaney February 19, 2013

I am absolutely guilty of hanging on to **more than one**, I'll say, barely-any-left samples that I'm saving for "something special" because I can't just use them already and move on. They are things that are too expensive for me to afford right now, but that I want to acquire eventually...so they just sit there...waiting. Example: Guerlain Myrrhe et Delires. Can't.Just.Use.It.

fleurdelys February 19, 2013

I've managed to keep the perfume collection under control using this rule: It can't expand beyond the top dresser drawer where it is stored. I have mostly full bottles, with some decants and mini bottles. The collection has pretty much reached the limits of the drawer, so no more bottles till some are used up. Sample vials are stored in a shoebox, but that is frequently emptied when I pass the unloved ones along to family members, or when I add them as "extras" in a swap. So far, it's working for me!

Tiara February 19, 2013

I look around some days and think where in the heck does this stuff come from?! I swear paper breeds over night here. The extra perfume (mainly 1ml) finds a loving home with my teen nieces and their mom so that's never a problem. Every year at Christmas after the gifts are finished, I hand over a bag I've collected all year and they're thrilled to have something new to wear. They love being the only ones wearing the new Dior or knowing about Liz Zorn. So cute. Love dinazad's idea of a party!

dinazad February 19, 2013

I don't hoard. Not me. Things hoard themselves... they slip in unnoticed and pretend they've always been here..... But where perfumes are concerned, I have the ideal solution: every two years or so I host a Perfume Bash. I take care of food and beverage (gives me an excuse to cook and bake) and place a big basket in the middle of the room. Everybody can deposit their unwanted make-up, perfume, small accessories etc. in there - and take out whatever intrigues them. The leftovers we give away - to people with little girls in need of "play-time make-up", to people who sell stuff at flea-markets, etc. etc. It's always lots of fun!

Jennifer Smith/Bookwyrmsmith February 19, 2013

Does your Yuck box get MR.Yuck face stickers?

tammy February 19, 2013

I don't hoard my perfume, though I'd say half my 100+ bottles I bought just for the bottle, so the juice is wasted. ( Y'all know who to hit up if you're wanting some Vera Wang Princess, Juicy, stuff like that!) But LAWD, I am such a Bag Lady! I love those cute gift bags, especially, but when CA lost its mind and decided to ban plastic grocery bags, I started hoarding those, too. (I mean, I use them for lots of things, but I saved them all instead of just one or two per trip) And since I have been slowly moving from CA to Arkansas the last 4 years, I have come to dearly love me a good box and you do NOT want to come between me and some bubble wrap or ghost poop! I have gotten much better about sentimental things, which I definitely hoarded once upon a time, but I've gotten much better about that! Or else I have turned into a right cold-hearted bitch in my cronehood and no longer feel sentimental about much. Now, my husband would tell you I hoard papercrafting supplies, but you can just ignore him.

Musette February 19, 2013

Ann, you know how crazy I get when I watch a Hoarders episode. Usually I throw out paper and packing materials (El O usually has a pile of stuff ready for me to whisk out)...and the vacuuming. I vacuum, even if I just vacuumed a couple of hours ago! I can usually manage the perfume armoire okay, as long as it's organized which, right now, it's not. As far as anything in my armoire - anything: I use it with pleasure and abandon! It's the only way, imo! xoxoxoA

Dina C. February 19, 2013

I've never had enough money to hoard luxury items like perfume or body products. I'm the kind of person who gets things home and immediately rips the tags off and starts wearing them or using them. I've recently been de-cluttering my entire home, following the suggestions of organization guru Peter Walsh. He has youtube videos on how to do a 31 day challenge that is very achievable. My only bugaboos are sentimental items like greeting cards and children's artwork. :-) Since I've been doing the perfume hobby for less than 5 years, it's still at a pretty manageable level. And it's the only collection that I have.

Poodle February 19, 2013

One of my resolutions was to try and use up things I have and not buy anything unless absolutely necessary. It's hard. I like to stock up and love a good sale. I've been giving away samples I don't like or need and making samples/decants of things to share with people. I also plan on getting rid of a few bottles that just don't work for me anymore but someone else may love. We'll see how it goes.

Lynley February 19, 2013

Oh Ann Im with you on the body product thing. Ive been like it for years and keep telling myself Ill use up what ive got before getting any more.. Sometimes I get to the point where Im at a manageable level, but I still have that 'saving it for a special occasion/its too nice to use' thing and even though i know this will result in the shower gel/body lotion going off (or me changing my tastes before I finish it, I finbd I have to work hard at changing this way of thinking :o( To reinforce this, only last week a friend got ready at my place before we went out, and on exiting the bathroom said "so where are the other 14 women you share your bathroom with?!" hilarious only because its tragically apparent I have a problem... :o/

mim666 February 19, 2013

This is a timely piece! We're enduring spring cleaning here, and my extended family runs along the spectrum. I'm definitely hoarder-ish (creative-collector type, I do throw away trash and recycle magazines once I've read them, but if it's pretty or I might use it to make something...) which isn't helped by chronic illness. Sometimes cleaning or even making decisions is too hard, and I have a large box of things that will never fit again which I have been meaning to consign for 3 years...Have another box of fragrant stuff I've been meaning to ebay...for 5 years (have added to it, and also taken away). Now that everyone around me is getting their own momentum it seems easier to get mine. Haven't been a fairy godmother yet but am looking fwd to it--I think I'd have an easier time gifting than trashing even 1/4-full samples that don't work for me. Think it's a lovely idea and thanks to the posse for sharing it! That said, I can justify keeping reference samples/small decants more than FBs I don't enjoy enough. I used to want a variety, especially as I was learning more about perfume, and a great deal or promising unsniffed classic was too good to pass up. If I have a lot I will spray with abandon but will nurse a teeny sample because I don't want to not have it in my scent-palette. But now I think of how my grandmother didn't wear Joy parfum because she was 'saving it' even when she knew she was dying and have come to think of perfume as more of an experience, with my time and enjoyment worth the most. I enjoy trying new scents--but if I kinda like X but really love Y then I should wear Y, even if I own a lot of X, because I have only so many days and I should spend them extremely happy with the SOTD, not kinda 'meh'--X should go make someone else happy. Thanks for the link to the boxes! might try this...

FragrantWitch February 18, 2013

Hello dear Ann! I have been on a general purge mission lately (except for my perfumes) in attempt to declutter my life and it feels really good. My mom is a borderline hoarder and I fear the slippery slope so I am trying to get into some good habits. Also, we are trying to teach our daughters the value of money so also trying to limit what we buy and to use what we have. I do love being perfume Fairy Godmother so always hang on to samples/decants that don't work for me. After all my trash is someone else's treasure!

wooddogs3 February 18, 2013

Your post made me poke around in the back of my cabinet, and I realized that there was a half-jar of Flowerbomb body cream back there. As I learned more about perfume I tended to disdain it, but when I tried the cream again I was reminded that it is genuinely pretty and that my husband loves it. Waste averted.

Farouche February 18, 2013

I've decided to concentrate on the positive side of my perfume obsession, er, hobby. I may have hundreds of little perfume-filled vials, but they are neatly organized, labeled, and tracked on a master Excel sheet. (I did use the word obsessive, didn't I?) And, except for my namesake fragrance, of which I have multiple bottles, I have so far managed to avoid buying backup bottles. So why does my husband shudder every time he sees a "perfume pak" whisk through the mail slot?

zazie February 18, 2013

You are touching a thorny subject, at least for me. I periodically give away stuff that doesn't fit/work/please me anymore, but in some ways my perfume habit has made me a hoarder. Oh, I'm aware I might not be considered as such by the seasoned perfumista: I use all of my fragrances, without considering their relative cost and availability, and I have just these backups (and great excuses for backing these perfumes up): * 3 bottles of Attrape coeur joined my huge lab decant when I learnt about it being discontinued; * 5 Shalimars, 2 ode à la vanille du Madagascar thingies included. However when I look at my collection of roughly 30 bottles I feel bad. It seems too much. I use tham all, but as I'm am an "undersprayer" I buy new bottles faster that my spraying rate... When I see proud bloggers posting pictures of their collections, I don't think WOW; at best I think" what a waste!" before I catch myself and realise I'm looking into a magnifying mirror, and that I could end up just like them, with 50+ bottles of barely used perfume... This makes me feel very uncomfortable, until another side of me starts planning the next purchase: what do I need first, Iris poudre or Encens flamboyant? I wonder if I'm the only one feeling guilty for "hoarding" perfume? For buying so many bottles that it would take 2 years of generous use to empty? And yet being so happy for any new acquisition, that always seems so necessary? I enjoy having options in the morning/evening, when I choose my SOTD/E (actually I NEED options, and lots of them), but when is it time to stop? How do you deal with this issue? Is this any issue at all?

Elena February 18, 2013

Oh yeah... My parents are terrible housekeepers/mild hoarders, so I've generally had a knee-jerk reaction the other way. I do like to watch Hoarders once a month and then cast a critical eye around the house and get rid of stuff! I tend to save my makeup more than perfume. I have a semi-fancy foundation, and I've just this week been trying to use it regularly instead of saving it (for what? Meeting the queen?) until it goes off. It's those darn Gift With Purchases that get me... and why I have 3 Estee Lauder Sugar Honey lipsticks, when it doesn't look good on me at all. UGH!

Michelle February 18, 2013

I'm in the process of organizing my samples and decants into lab freezer boxes like these: http://www.transglobalsci.com/shc-2.html. The 5 1/4 x 2 boxes with the proper insert hold 144 1 ml samples, 5 1/4 x 3 boxes hold larger samples and spray samples with 81 or 100 count inserts, and 5 ml SKS decants fit perfectly with a 64 count insert. I tend to wear a different scent or two every day, and even ones I love I may only wear a few times a year. If my daughter or a friend likes something I'm not wild about, they can have, but I would rather have a well-organized fragrance reference library then ever throw anything away.

Sherri February 18, 2013

Definitely can see hoarder tendancies in myself, fortunately they are tempered by my hate/allergies for dust and bad smells, love of beautiful things and a dh who is the total opposite and throws things out behind my back. I have about 6-8 FB's in my linen closet that never sold on Facebook Fragrance Friends and I have a drawer for samples that are absolute "no"'s for me I need to send off to a perfumista friend. I enjoy the Fairy Godmother thing because 80% of the time I get a sample--especially the non-spray vial samples--it is either a "no" or I like it so much I'll get a larger decant or FB. So I like it that someone else gets a little joy out of what I already have! I confess sometimes on a cleaning binge I have been known to throw away FB's (I am tempted to toss the new Femme and Madame Rochas--they're irritating me and some Santa Maria Novellas that give such allergy attacks I don't even want to touch them again. However, I have others like six bottles of Shalimar I never wear but treasure nonetheless and refuse to purge (c'mon, they're Shalimar, for goodness' sake! :-) )

rosarita February 18, 2013

I go through cycles where I unload bunches of stuff but somehow things...reaccumulate. I just made that up but you get me. I wear my perfume though, even the best stuff, until it gets to the last few drops and then I can't bring myself to finish it completely because then I won't have it anymore and might not get it again, although there's certainly plenty of other choices. It's hard to cull through my main collections, jewelry and scarves. Even if I don't wear things I like looking at them, and when I say that I hear my grandma's voice saying that she'll give me that brooch soon but she's not done looking at it yet.

patuxxa February 18, 2013

My grandmother was a hoarder. Not as bad as that TV show, but. Bad. And I notice that me and my mom have a bit of a hoarding tendency too...the thing is, I know that when I use my vintage Opium, it's gone. But if I never use it, what's the point in having it? So I really try to dare myself to use all the wonderful stuff I have and just enjoy it!

Lisa D February 18, 2013

Hiya, Ann! I'm slightly embarrassed to say that watching Hoarders does the opposite for me - it makes me feel like I've got it together. With that said, I do confess to holding onto (well, okay, it's clinging) lots of samples, minis, decants and full bottles that I know I'm never going to use. We should have a Posse jumble giveaway - all the scent you can fit into a small Priority Mail box, for the price of postage! At least then, we'd get to set the hoarding clock back to zero when the jumble lot arrived. The good stuff that I like, I try to keep in rotation - but let's face it, I'd have to spritz 102 times a day to get through it within the next decade.:-)

Jackie b February 18, 2013

This sounds so familiar, samples tucked in the Don't like but Someone Might box. Backup bottles of favourites, well they were on special! The only other thing I seem to accumulate are empty boxes. There is almost a sense of anticipation about little containers and you just never know when you need to pack a decorative little something. Yes, I enable myself!

eldarwen22 February 18, 2013

I understand perfectly. I'm always afraid to throw out a decant of anything, even though it is something that I don't like. Someone else might want it or it might grow on me. My latest thing is getting back up bottles of some of my perfume loves. Even though I have thrown out many things these past few days, I get panicky if I gotta consider throwing out decants, except when they are empty from use or plain old evaporation.

spiker February 18, 2013

I know exactly what you mean. I've only been interested in perfume for about 6mos., but already the collection of samples, whether obtained online or wheedled from SAs, is getting significant. And, once I've established that a scent is not something I love, I'm having trouble just throwing it out. Please note - that's only for those not worth sending along - I promise you nothing not readily available for free from Sephora will go to waste. I'm looking forward to the day when I can play fairy godmother. The time is coming when I'm going to have to review what I have and make some hard decisions. piffle.