One thing I’ve noticed is a particular problem for women is the messy craft room. Or craft area, or craft stash. Many of us seem to have a love affair with our crafts, and honestly, that’s a good thing. We NEED our hobbies. It gives us a creative outlet, a way to relax, and we love to make beautiful things to keep or give as gifts. That’s all well and good, but that craft stash can get out of hand very quickly.
The problem is there are so many cute things to choose from and we have so many ideas for cute projects to make, that we can turn into semi-hoarders very easily. I’ve seen some pretty funny quotes related to this topic:
I’ve discovered that buying craft supplies and using craft supplies are two completely different hobbies.
My husband lets me buy all the craft supplies I can HIDE.
Crafting – it’s cheaper than therapy (barely)
I like my money where I can see it – right in my craft room (or closet!)
But it stops being funny when you are spending money you can’t afford on boosting your craft stash. Or when your craft room is actually taking over not just the room, but the entire house. Or when your craft room is so gobbed up with STUFF you can’t possibly get in there to make anything. That’s when you need to take some action. And I’m here to help with that.
STOP Buying Craft Supplies!
This one is actually the most important tip. If you’ve gotten into the danger zone with your craft buying habits, it’s time to stop. Here are some suggestions that will help. You can trust me on this that these suggestions WILL work – but only IF you USE THEM! I am firmly in the compulsive shopping category and these are tips I’ve used my entire adult life to keep my overspending habits under control. But even I have lapses once in a while…
- Unsubscribe from every Email you can that tempts you to buy crafts. JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and all of their friends. This will eliminate a HUGE area of temptation.
- It’s hard to unsubscribe from ALL the tempting catalogs and flyers that come in the mail. Instead, you can ask your husband, partner, kids, or anyone who lives with you to fetch the mail and just pluck these rotten apples right out and straight into the trash. Otherwise, you’ll have to just use your willpower to throw them out yourself. Here’s a thought – make a note for your desk. Each catalog or flyer you keep will cost you a $5 penalty IN CASH. No cash = no catalog!
- Stay OUT of the stores. This one is HARD, but it is really necessary. I learned this years ago. If I go into a store – unless it’s selling tires and hubcaps or something I am utterly disinterested in, I am coming out of there with SOMETHING! Usually a bunch of somethings. I will not set foot in Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, or ANY craft store for any reason. I know, I can hear you gulp from here! I can sometimes manage Costco if I go straight to the food and straight back out, but it’s a gamble. If I need groceries, I usually do the online pickup thing or I send my husband or son with a list. Extreme?? Yep. But I’ll bet this one step has saved me more than $10,000 in impulse buys over the years. That is well worth the inconvenience of keeping my butt out of the stores.
- Enlist a buddy. This is another one I’ve used at times. This could be your Mom, your sister, or a good friend who will hold you accountable. You check in with them before you go shopping – confirm what you’re planning to buy and how much you plan to spend. Then you check in with them after the trip and show them your receipt. If you made any unplanned purchases, you have to ‘fess up and explain why you needed that item. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing, but this one is especially powerful and you really get a boost if you’re able to celebrate because you didn’t overspend!
Now that you’ve figured out how to stop the bleeding, it’s time to do a little triage on the stuff you’ve already got. I’ve got some additional tips that should really help you. Here’s a video that I recorded in my Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/AdriansClutterGroup Come join us if you’d like. But I’ll also spell out the tips for you as well.
Strategy #1 – The Pie Chart Method
This is an especially good strategy if you do multiple types of crafts – sewing, stamping, macramé, or drawing. Or if your craft stash is taking over entire areas of the house. For me, growing up in a messy house with crafts all over the house, it can be a trigger for me to have supplies scattered around.
Make a pie chart of the various types of crafts you like to do and have collected supplies for. Determine how much you currently use and enjoy each craft and also a second chart of how much space in the house your craft collection occupies. Now sit with those charts and really think about it. Ask yourself the following questions:
- The crafts that make up the smallest pieces of the pie – do you really want to continue with them or could you let them go?
- The ones that take up the biggest pieces of the pie – are they still valid crafts for you and do you still enjoy them as much? For instance, scrapbooking was huge about 5 years ago, but has gradually waned in favor of other crafts. You’ll want to keep your completed projects, of course, but you might be able to let go of some of the supply hoard you’ve accumulated.
- Looking at the space allocation – is it fair to the other members of the household? If your crafts are taking up more than say 20% of your available storage space, is that fair and appropriate? Did you even realize that it had gotten to this point?
- Even if you do decide to keep all your craft stash, could you look at storing it differently so it takes up less space? Could you gather it all into one room or one defined area?
- Could you comfortably eliminate a portion of your supplies? Say 10% or 20%? You’d still have 80% to play with.
Strategy #2 – The Time Capsule for your Messy Craft Rooms
This is a wonderful strategy for all those half-finished projects that you have lying about. Nearly ALL of us have at least three or four unfinished projects that we are always promising ourselves to finish. So, here’s how you get them finished. Take all the pieces of it and put them in a box. Tape the box up and put a big fat NOTE on it. Example:
This project MUST be finished by _________ date or it must be given away
Set a reasonable date that will allow you to finish the project, but not a whole lot of time. I’m thinking a month or two. Then leave the box where you will see it every day. You’ll either finish the project by that date, or buh-bye! Out it goes.
This tactic also works with your husband, kids, or partner. If they have a something or other that has been taking up space for an unreasonable amount of time, and they’ve been promising to do something with it, this is a great way to hold them accountable. It is assertive and clear, but reasonable and gives them a clear timeline when they have plenty of time to take action if they value the item.
Strategy #3 – Containerizing
I love this strategy and I use it a lot when I am working with decluttering clients. Let’s face it, your home only has so much space, and barring a move to a larger home, there’s not a lot to do about it. Unfortunately, there is no black hole or quantum universe in your house.
If you have a shelf that will only hold 40 widgets*, you can’t keep 65 widgets there. So you gather all the widgets together in one place and then make an agreement with yourself. This is the place where I will store this type of widget. It will only hold XX number of widgets and if I have more than that, I will have to choose my favorite widgets and let go of the rest. And I can’t buy any more widgets until I’ve used up enough items to make space for it.
* Widget – a piece of fabric, a stamp set, a ball of yarn, a whatever unit of measurement for your craft.
That way the container or the shelf or whatever will set a natural limit for your widgets.
The Post-it Note Method for your Craft Stash
This is the easiest way to decide which widgets to keep and which to declutter. I actually have a whole post about this topic because it’s one of my easiest and most helpful decluttering strategies for every type of item. How to Declutter ANYTHING with Post-it Notes.
But here it is in a nutshell.
- Get 5 Post-it Notes – label them from 1 to 5. 5 for the items you most want to keep (treasures) and 1 is for the items you definitely don’t want (junk) and then there is a whole spectrum in between.
- Quickly sort out your widgets and put them next to the appropriate Post-it Notes. Try to be as honest as you can so you don’t end up with all 4’s and 5’s and no 1’s or 2’s. The 3 category is sort of an undecided area for items you are ambivalent about.
- This will also help you to determine if you have duplicates or many items that are very similar. We tend to buy items because they are similar to ones we already own and enjoy. If you find a lot of duplicates, then decide how many you should keep and discard the rest.
- Once you have the items sorted out, the 1’s could probably go in the trash if they are damaged, broken, or worn out. The 2’s are just poor decisions and can usually go into a giveaway box. The 5’s are the treasures. You’re going to want to store those in a way you can access them and use them frequently. The 4’s tend to be the workhorse items – you also are going to want to store them so they’re easily accessible. Then take the 3’s category and sort them last. Some you will want to keep, but a good portion of them should go in the giveaway or sell pile.
- Then just lather, rinse, and repeat for all your different categories of widgets. You’ll have your craft room squared away in no time!
Be Prepared to WORK!
I don’t want you to go into this with any illusions. These items didn’t just fall out of the sky yesterday and they aren’t going to disappear tomorrow! It’s going to take a significant amount of work to make some headway on your craft stash. I have a couple of rules I follow when I’m doing any significant decluttering – declutter items need to out of your house within 24 hours if at all possible. Otherwise, they are in danger of just becoming a part of the landscape. Also, it helps to go into it with a positive attitude. Look at it as a treasure hunt to find the things you enjoy, rather than a dreaded tasks to accomplish.
If you want some terrific ideas for how to organize the supplies you ARE keeping, I highly recommend this post from Farm Girl Reformed. She’s got some super-cute organizing strategies and products that will help you keep your CRAFT STUFF within reach and easy to use. Check out her post here.